A short while ago, I attended a Content Strategy event: nine people each gave a five minute talk – an intense format that can throw up some real gems. On this occasion, the gem came from Chris Atherton (@finiteattention), and is a concept I can only describe as the principle of Bridging Content.
The background to Chris’ presentation: design agency Numiko was selected by the UK government’s Time to Change initiative to build a digital engagement strategy aimed at younger people. Considerable research was done with the target audience: both with and without direct exposure to mental illness and its impact. According to Chris, this resulted in thirteen – yes, 13 – personae. Read more of this post
You’ve shelled out the money – six figures very likely. You have the license. The wonderful CMS they sold you is yours to use. So, what are you going to do?
In other terms
I am no musician. My fingers do not obey my instructions when it comes to evoking the melody. But, I wanted to learn. The piano is supposed to be a fairly basic instrument; maybe not the easiest, but the notes are all laid out in front of one is a fairly obvious way.
I went into a music store and asked a salesman which piano I should buy. I was honest about not having a clue; not knowing how to play. But I have a good ear for sound. I know if I like the tone of something. All smiles, he took me to one special piano he had; I closed my eyes and listened while he played. The piece was hauntingly beautiful – a minute and a half of lively bounce. Chopin, he told me; Étude Op. 10 n. 5. A piece that demonstrated no lack of skill.
Sold. I handed over my money and awaited delivery.
Was I ever in for a shock? A week later, the very piano the salesman had played me that demo piece on arrived and was set up in my living room. I lifted the lid to see what my new toy sounded like in my home – and discovered that half the keys were missing! On the right half of the keyboard, there was only the single white key; an F. Read more of this post
At CS Applied last month, Rahel Bailie held a workshop where she explained the work she has been doing on the City of Vancouver’s web site. She outlined a triage approach to content auditing: what to keep, what to discard, and what needed reworking.
The model is beautifully simple. And if done right – with sign-off from the powers – it provides a perfect tool with which to test new content people come up with. Anything that fails the test would not have survived the original triage, so should not make it onto the site.
The four levels of the value proposition
What is the goal of your site? What are its goals? This is described in lofty terms; it is board-speak. It may be to sell more product, to service a community or to provide thought leadership. This is the answer to the Why of your site’s existence. It is not interested in implementation or approach; it cares only for concepts. Read more of this post
The two days (1-2 March 2012) are wrapped – it is time to take stock of the learnings that came of them.
If I had to choose one word to sum up CSApplied2012, it would be intense: pretty much a non-stop roller-coaster of information and ideas; inspiration and levity. We managed such a flow of real-time tweeting that the event hashtag - #CSA12 – peaked into the top ten Twitter trending topics world-wide and draw the attention of the spam-bots. A quad-stream format meant there was more than enough content to keep anyone busy, and sometimes too many choices to make: does one go for the technical stream, or the localisation? It’s a hard life trying to take it all in.
As with my CS Forum write-up, I will go for recurring themes rather then a blow-by-blow account of the sessions I attended. Read more of this post
I have been told, over and over, to keep the systems I design simple. The mantra is familiar; we all know it well: KISS – keep it simple, stupid.
Everyone and his half-brother is quoted saying something of the sort:
“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Now, I have a big problem with how many people choose to interpret this concept of simplicity. There are several ways in which KISS can be applied.
KISSing the system
This is the aspect of KISS that people like Jobs have referred to: it is about reducing the set of requirements; eliminating second-tier functionality.
KISSing the system is about identifying the tasks that really need to be supported, and eliminating the rest. If you can halve the number of tasks the system supports, thereby halving the overall complexity, while maintaining 90% of the user-task needs (i.e. the retained tasks are used more than the discarded), your return on effort will increase.
Of course, just because a task is not frequently performed does not mean it is not critical (e.g. a purchasing process involves putting items in a cart, and a check-out; just because the average shopper selects five items before checking out does not mean we can do without the less-used step). Read more of this post
Is your content having an identity crisis? Does it know what it is?
When elements of content become individual entities, separate from the environment in which they are presented (which is the whole point of a CMS, but that’s another story), the need for awareness of these dependencies becomes critical to the “management” part of the CMS.
Most vendors will tell you that their systems are aware of content dependencies: if you create a new page, with an image in it, publishing the page will also publish the image. Hey, the page is aware of what its dependencies are; what more could you want? Read more of this post