This article was written by Cale Maxwell, a friend of Coltrane, and expert project manager.
If you are about to rebuild or create a new website STOP what you are doing and read this…
Before you do anything think about your content and where it might potentially end up. Ask yourself, will you only ever be using this content on your desktop website, OR could you possibly re-use this content on a mobile website, app, tablet app, blog, kiosk, in-store display or even in print based marketing. If any of these platforms feature in your 5 year roadmap think very carefully about how you structure your content. It is difficult, time consuming and can be quite costly to try and retrofit your content for these devices.
Plan your content with the expectation that it will exist in multiple contexts. You are no longer writing an article for one medium. Think COPE. Create once, publish everywhere. Your content should be at the centre of your digital eco-system and should be adaptable.
The idea behind responsive design is centered around the fact that there is no perfect format to display information anymore. The perfect format is now dependent upon how, where and what device the information is being accessed from. This is also true for content. Responsive design using adaptive content is the only responsible way of ensuring that an experience had on one device, translates to another.
In order for content to be adaptable we need it to be flexible and contextually appropriate to a range of different environments. This can be achieved by stripping the content back to its roots. Think of content as words on a page, without the device specific styles and display issues we associate with content management. When we do this we can then pull content into any platform and address presentation issues within the platform rather than at a content management level.
In its simplest form an adaptive content strategy may involve stripping down your content so that where possible it will be stored as “plain text”.
You could focus on separating it into fields such as HEADINGS, SHORT DESCRIPTION, LONG DESCRIPTION, TAGLINE etc. A move advanced approach might include incorporating meta-data that can tell the device/platform how to display your content. For example a page with a portrait image may reference a different template to a page with a landscape image.
When next working on your content think about other locations/mediums where it could be used. If you can use a particular piece of content somewhere else, don’t save it to a database as one large “page”. Pull it out, break it up and save it as bite sized chunks.
This article is the first of the content series, and skimmed the surface of planning content for multiple devices and audiences. Content strategy is a complex beast and there will always be restrictions on what you can/cannot achieve. No one knows where the content is going better than content managers themselves. Simple changes can lead to large changes in efficiency.