Content Strategy is having a resurgence in support in this industry recently. It is an incredibly important notion that is met with mixed views. Like there was with UX, there are equally naysayers calling it a fad and dismissing it entirely. I believe that the revolutionisation of content is an incredibly good thing, if not one of the most important to occur lately in our industry.
As a designer, I of course view design as being incredibly important. Good design can make a huge difference to how a website is perceived and used, but without content there isn't even a reason to view the website in the first place. Removing content from websites would leave the internet an art gallery, designs without objective.
On the other hand, content without design can still be incredibly valid. There are many websites that have existed for decades that have never been pretty, yet continues to be used by billions. Look at eBay, Google, or Craigslist to get an idea of what I am talking about. Content is the core principle behind the web - it is was the reason it was created in the first place - and it is the reason that people continue to use the internet everyday.
Adaptive Content only shares little resemblance to Responsive Web Design and mainly in name. It is foolish to consider them sisterly ideas without taking proper time to read about them. The idea is not that sentences change and words disappear when you resize your browser to what you see on your mobile phone. The idea is that that creating multiple lengths of the same content on creation, means that the content can reach further corners of people's lives.Â What Adaptive Content suggests is that the content should be set up in multiple flavours in the first place (usually within the CMS) so that a developer can use it in various ways for use on the main website, or on the iPad app, or on your phone, your TV, the monthly newsletter. Rather than replicating content for each of these different places, the content is set up once - perhaps in chunks, or with shorter and longer versions - so that there can be a conscious decision for each instance of the article.
We have practiced this for years in multiple forms. We create a blog post, and often choose a more abbreviated teaser for a blog article excerpt. We shorten it even more for meta tags to whet the appetite of anyone using search engines and draw them in to read the full story. The title alone often isn't enough to summarise. This is merely a further extension of that.
So that you are not wedded to the design decisions made by an earlier platform. You are not wedded to the design choces made by print. You are not wedded to the design choices of the desktop. Instead, you can choose how you want it to be designed for your platform. KAREN MCGRANECompanies that commission Adaptive Content will have the ability to repurpose their content in multiple ways. It will allow them to choose what their visitors need to see in whichever context or device is appropriate. It also sets up content to be much more flexible for the future. After all, what the company needs today may not be what it needs tomorrow.
Karen McGrane (found via Relly Annet-Baker) did a great talk on this. She explains how even many years ago, TV Guide had the forethought to ask their content writers to create multiple short, medium and long forms of their episode blurbs. At the time it may have seemed like a lot of extra work, but this now means that those blurbs can be used all over the place in whatever length is most appropriate for the context. When their magazine fizzled due to the digital revolution, they started to license out their content to the likes of TiVo and effectively created a whole new business. There may be a lot more uses for that content in the future too.
Very fundamentally; better, more flexible content, means more options and wider readership.Â More options means better websites for clients and more money for our businesses. I truly fail to see what the issue is, and why anyone could see a downside to Adaptive Content. It's all about having more flexible content, to power your design decision and if that makes my life easier, and my work betterâ€¦ I'm behind it 100%.
Content Strategy is an important job that we need to be promoting. To change analogy, think of a Baker. Without the Farmer to sow and harvest the wheat, he is but useless. Content is to wheat, as our profession is to baking. Without it, we're making useless inedible paste.
To suggest Content Strategy or Adaptive Content is a fad, is to downplay the importance of content. Basically, it is suggesting that the fundamental building block of the internet isn't all that important.Â