By Dennis Clemente
“We don’t need more content, we need content to do more,” says Sara Wachter-Boettcher in the launch of her book, “Content Everywhere: Strategy and Structure for Future-Friendly Content” at Ogilvy One Worldwide at 48th St and 11th Avenue.
Her statement comes in the wake of how the web is evolving, but content, like responsive web design, is playing catch up with fast-changing technologies.
Locked into inflexible pages and documents, most content is far from ready for today’s world of apps and APIs and multimedia devices in various shapes and sizes. Many questions arise, “Should we do a website, app or a mobile site?”
Says Wachter-Boettcher: “We can’t create more content for all of these devices and channels. We’d go nuts trying to manage and maintain all of it. Instead, we need content that does more for us–content that’s structured and defined so it can travel and shift while keeping its meaning and message intact.”
It looks like things will only get worse before they get better. Why? She cites how different devices try to show us websites but they turn out to be inaccessible, broken, missing, or even useless. On top of that, organizations face many challenges they need to address internally. These include:
1. Mass-production mentality. Content-producing people are not tied to a business strategy and the company’s goals and visions. There has to be a content strategy that bridges the gap between the vision and execution.
2. Compartmentalized teams or silos. Departmental walls are often up, even hostile to others when they should be working together and thinking of customers first. Department teams need to come together.
3. Obsession with control: Stakeholders don’t get digital and user control terrifies them, especially if the organization isn’t built for change. Rather than adapt, it’s stuck. An organization needs to be adept at change.
Once organizations can reconcile the fact that structure isn’t arbitrary, Wachter-Boettcher says they need to break things down. They need to do a content audit and find patterns and have these patterns establish content types toward building a structure. Structure helps content move.
She says think of content like water, flowing everywhere it needs to go, but having infrastructure. “Start with the content, break it down into chunks, look at the interconnection, not just the hierarchy,” she says.
Giving her audience some glimmer of hope after some harsh reality check, Wachter-Boettcher offers some must-dos:
• Make mobile an entry point, not the end point.
• Don’t sell solutions. Invest more deeply.
• Incorporate people in your work from the start.
• Do less, facilitate more.
• Iterate. Implement incremental changes.
For good content strategy, she defers to NPR and its COPE strategy. (http://blog.programmableweb.com/2009/10/13/cope-create-once-publish-everywhere/)
Visit Wachter-Boettcher’s website at http://sarawb.com/