Content is king, but where's the proof?
May 25, 2005 at 8:46 AM
It seems like everyone is on the content kick again. First D. Keith Robinson's post on the Content Brief and then Amy Gahran's post on the Content Strategy. It's interesting how so many people can talk about content and why it's important (it is the king, you know) but yet it remains to fall on the deaf ears of executives and decision makers. Look around the office, how many content people does your company employ? Unless your in the news or media industry, probably not a lot of any at all. Well, Keith Robinson, Molly Holzschlag, Kevin Smokler, and myself will be giving a presentation on this very subject at WebVisions 2005 in Portland. So what's the catch? We're going to show you the proof. More information to come, keep watching this space.
You know what I find interesting is that not only does it fall on the deaf ears of decision makers, it often seems unimportant to those who produce sites as well. I feel that if you really want to be a great designer, producer, developer, IA -- you should really have a good grasp on content and content strategy. It'll help you get things done, keep you sane and probably make you a more valuable asset to the people who pay your salary.
Very true Keith. There is nothing more beautiful than a site designed specifically with the content in mind. It's like a product that fits perfectly in a package that was designed for it.
Nick, for those of us who are chained to the office chair and are unable to attend WebVisions, can you provide a sneak peak at the presentation? Show me the proof. :)
If we do have slides (and we probably will) I will be posting them to the presentation page on my personal site after the conference.
I think this problem is also due to the fact that communicators have not fully embraced their roles as content strategists and managers on the web. I think there is confusion within many organizations as to where those important roles lie on the org chart. This problem seems to go back to the old question "What is the ideal number of people/roles on the Web team?" You always see "Programmer" and "Designer" on the list, however Communicators are often left off of it.
Krista — I'd argue that all those roles have the responsibility of communicator but maybe editor or copywriter is the term? Certainly in advertising the writer is a distinct if not dedicated hat.
Krista, the folks at STC would be proud. Anyway, I agree with your points here, compromise often results in not hiring a technical communicator or content producer/manager. Interestingly enough technical communicators have been around for a long time, back when they had to transcribe all of the hardcopy that had been stacking up over the years... now's it's totally off the radar.
The message is that the message is wrong for decision makers. "Content is king" is a nice mantra: great for designers to know, but it says absolutely nothing about the stake that the decision makers have in the project. Instead, what are the implications of "content is king" for decision makers? How does that change their role? I don't know, but I do know that watching APIs blossom on the Web is like growing a field of content for harvest. When decision makers realize that APIs (and interfaces built on other people's APIs) are where the money is, they might change their tune, make marketing change their tune, and possibly even the CEO.
Joseph-- I agree wholeheartedly with the points you make in your article. All the members of the team are communicators on some level. (I do agree that Web projects in general would be more successful if all the team members kept communication front and centre, but then again, I'm completely biased. ;) ) I was thinking more about after the site launches and beyond. That's when I see the Communicator taking up the role of content generator/manager/strategist to ensure the site is dynamic (frequent, relevant updates) and that the content continues to evolve to meet the site goals and ultimately the customer's goals. I see the Communicator pulling in the Programmer, the IA and the Designer in as required to help the site evolve, but in between full scale redesigns I see the Communicator bearing responsibility for ensuring the site stays vibrant.