AEA12: Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content

For years, we’ve been telling designers: the web is not print. You can’t have pixel-perfect layouts. You can’t determine how your site will look in every browser, on every platform, on every device. We taught designers to cede control, think in systems, embrace web standards. So why are we still letting content authors plan for where their content will “live” on a web page? Why do we give in when they demand a WYSIWYG text editor that works “just like Microsoft Word”? Worst of all, why do we waste time and money creating and recreating content instead of planning for content reuse? What worked for the desktop web simply won’t work for mobile. As our design and development processes evolve, our content workflow has to keep up. Learn how to adapt to creating more flexible content.

Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content
Karen McGrane

The real challenge with mobile is the content.

NPR vs Conde Nast

Conde Nast’s Approach

Conde has been building custom iPad editions. They basically took a big picture of the magazine and publish it for the iPad. That’s not a mobile strategy. They are harkening back to a time when they were in control and understood.

“The golden age of PDFs on the iPad.” Paul Ford, @ftrain

NPR’s Approach

COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere. Content can be published in a CMS and distributed via the API to multiple channels.

Business Value? Over the last year, NPR’s total page view growth has increased by more than 80%. The API has allowed for this growth.

The future of adaptive content.

What is adaptive content?

  • Intelligent
  • Nimble
  • Structured
  • Flexible
  • Agile
  • Semantic

You know from the beginning that the content you create will have to be published to multiple channels / platforms.

Intentionally designing to accomodate this from the start.

TV Guide realized that they were not in the magazine business. They were in the content business.

TV Guide decided that the writers would write three descriptions of each show; short form, medium form, long form descriptions of each show description. They didn’t know why but they knew that if the content was locked up in print then it wouldn’t have any value.

The publishing assets of TV Guide were sold for $1. The value was in the data.

TV Guide got this right

  • Multiple Sites
  • Meaningful Metadata (category, title - searchable in a database)
  • Written for reuse

Why are news organizations the innovators? They already have structured content.

  • Hed
  • Dek
  • Lede
  • Captions, Cutlines
  • Nut graf

The coupling of content and form. We need to get past the idea that there is a tight connection between the content and the form.

A de-coupled system separates storage from publishing. A coupled system forces you to recycle content for non-desktop platforms (mobile, tablet, app).

The Primary Platform

We assumed hat there is a primary place where the content lives (the desktop browser).

“Thinking about where content will “live” on a “web page” is pretty 1999. - Lisa Welchman, @lwelchman

Write for the chunk, not the page
Demystify metadata
Better CMS workflow

Truncation is not a content strate…

Blobs vs Chunks

CMS has to have structured content, not just a blob of content. Communicating meaning is not limited to styling (bold, italic, etc).

  • Metadata programmatically builds pages.
  • “Metadata is the new art direction.” - Ethan Resnick, @studip101
  • Metadata helps prioritize content.
  • Metadata supports designing for context.

We need a better CMS workflow. The workflow needs to meet their needs. If it were the flow of checking out, we would scrub out every bit of friction during the checkout process.

We won’t be able to tackle multi-channel publishing until we tackle the workflow. Real usability is predicated on the workflow.

“The happier people are, the better their content will be, the more content they’ll produce.”

Use mobile as a wedge to drive a sea change in thinking about content and workflow.

The more structure you put into content the freer it will become. - Rachel Lovinger, @rlovinger

Separation of content from display. For real this time.

Design with and for structured content.

You are in the content publishing business.

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About The Author

G. Brad Hopkins's avatar
  • G. Brad Hopkins
  • About Me: I bought my first computer - an Apple Performa 6320 - when I was in college and have been building websites ever since. These days I spend most of my time writing code and helping to bring interesting projects to life.
  • @gbradhopkins