Live from #UXLX, Day 2, Evening Session: There is something looming on the horizon and, if we don't act accordingly, your brand may be worth only a buck someday, just like TV Guide. In fairness, it was the paper magazine brand that sold for that amount; their database, however, was a prescient parable in Karen McGrane's "Content Strategy for Mobile" seminar.
Why? Because TV Guide asked its editors to put all of its content from Quark files into a database for some unforeseen future purpose. But that's not the point here, the point is where is that future-thinking now? McGrane pointed out that 72% of responsive designed websites actually fully download their content, meaning content is getting lost out there for the mobile experience as it is. What about Smart TVs? What about watches, Google Glass, your car (you can't hear italics, can you?)? What about that digital display in the elevator, over the urinal, or on a Subway billboard? Content need not be made for one thing and one thing only, and let's face it: the client will want to stretch their resources on managing content across several platforms.
The worry, as McGrane explains so well, (only butchered a bit by my paraphrasing), is your content management system, not just the hardware but even in your workflow. "Real usability comes from the workflow," McGrane said to a room full of international UX experts. Clients are hoarding their content for an SEO of yesteryear without thinking about all the structural ways it will be consumed in the future. I agree with this assessment, we in the field of UX must not only champion relevant experiences, but we must work strongly in helping brands evolve their systems to be ready for whatever may come, even things we know not will be. And, accordingly, content strategy must be woven the UX tapestry with nimble content editors imagining flexibility, structuring and independently presenting content in "chunks, not blobs", and thinking less about weight on the page and more about weighting metadata semantically more meaningful.
McGrane quoted Matt Thompson, NPR Editorial Product Manager, "The happier people are the better their content will be, the more content they'll produce." Here cometh the lesson: today's CMS uses tags and IDs (illustrated in the seminar with Time Magazine's Wordpress, for example) in their metadata, adapting one-size-fits-all content for multiple client-side platforms; but UXers and creative technologists must steer usability with server-side meaningful encoded metadata and accessible structural content before the only value it has is worth less than a glass of corner-stand lemonade.
(written also for Atmosphere Proximity BBDO Blog)