Understanding Content

For a small business owner looking to keep his or her loyal customer base and potentially expand it, or a team member tasked with re-vamping a company’s web presence, understanding content strategy is crucial in accomplishing these project goals.

Content Strategy for the Web and Content Strategy for Mobile cover similar topics with a similar process that can influence the management of such project goals. Each book begins with a framing of the situation at hand, be it “bad” content or determining what mobile means, and moves into analyzing content: what type it is, where it is, and what it does. After which, solutions to accomplish goals of websites and mobile apps are explored in detail.

The sections outlined in the Content Strategy for the Web are:

  • Reality
    • Now, Problem, Solution
  • Discovery
    • Alignment, Audit, Analysis
  • Strategy
    • Core, Content, People
  • Success
    • Persuasion, Advocacy, Hero

In Content Strategy for Mobile, chapters are:

  • Your Content, Now Mobile
  • Content Before Platform
  • Adaptive Content
  • Strategy and Planning
  • Writing and Editing
  • Information Architecture
  • People and Process

Section and chapter titles of each illustrate the point above about similarity in flow of the material. This similarity indicates that developing content strategy follows a logical order regardless of the vessel the content will be going into.

Both Content Strategy for the Web and Content Strategy for Mobile discuss, whether explicitly or not, that before creating a content strategy, one must first reconsider how we think about content, what it is, and how people use it.

McGrane first writes about the reality of mobile and misconceptions surrounding its use. Three common misconceptions are that mobile should be designed for task-based functionality rather than information-seeking content, that designing for mobile can be an excuse to make it inferior, and that getting all content onto mobile is not necessary.

McGrane debunks these misconceptions in detailing the importance of understanding content types, how to launch a plan to implement or create that content, and what it takes to maintain it and keep it useful.

Content needs to be adaptive, responsive, and structured – all descriptors that give content a kind of vibrancy and the idea that content will be in flux, evolving, and not static.

This initial step is essential to creating a successful content strategy, particularly when considering the misconceptions that McGrane lists that people often have about mobile. If the type of content that is needed is misunderstood, or how people will use that content, or whether or not all website content also needs to be mobile (yes), the content will suffer and results of the work won’t be half as fruitful.

McGrane also describes the necessity of content that is “ready to go anywhere,” further adding to the idea that content, whether on a website, mobile, or elsewhere, is dynamic and has movement and significance of its own once created. McGrane uses the word “automagically” to describe responsive content, content that can reformat itself for different screen sizes or platforms and showing particular content depending on the interface, device capability, bandwidth, or user context.

Content Strategy for Mobile offers a content concept that will be useful in developing content strategies as technology advances and the fluidity between content channels/vessels increases.

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