Book review: Content Everywhere by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
The aim of this book is to equip anyone working with web content for the challenges of the multi-device, mashable, social media-curated online world.
The full title is Content everywhere: Strategy and Structure for Future-Ready Content, and it probably helps to think of it as a workbook to find ways to enable your content to be re-used and connected across your site (and used in other systems and websites) whilst minimising the demands on web publishers, who – as we all know – are people who are very pressed for time!
Making your content work on all platforms
It’s about making content that can work on desktops, mobiles, tablets, big screens and elsewhere but also work on different pages in different sections of your website, automatically displaying different bits of the content in each scenario according to the rules that you’ve set.
This means finding ways to free content from its silos. For example, on page 12 she writes:
The more you strive for a perfect page, the more you limit yourself to just that page.
Wachter-Boettcher takes readers though the process of transition. She looks at deconstructing your content – understanding the content concepts and types and identifying all the necessary elements in a content type – then takes you through how to create a new model designed to configure content so it better serves your business needs.
Keep in mind the key aspects
One example is of a recipe: though it may seem obvious what elements a recipe needs – such as the name of the dish, the ingredients, the equipment, the method, – for this business – a health food store – the recipe supports a strategy to build customer relationships and trust (and thus sell more groceries) so for them the nutritional information in the recipes is really important.
Each chapter considers key aspects of web publishing stuff you’ll need to keep in mind but they’re handy introductions not in-depth explanations: before you realise you’ll be talking metadata, semantic mark-up, content rules, APIs, content shifting and information architecture.
But it’s not all mechanical: the step-by-step approach is punctuated by short interviews with leaders in their fields, including this:
You must be able to consider both the underlying structure of the content and the “gestalt” – the shape or form – of the overall effect. Done well, the viewer doesn’t focus on those parts, but is left only with the sense that the composition ‘lives.’
R. Stephen Gracey, content strategist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Quoted on page 34/35
A rather inspiring reflection – for this content geek anyway! – on finding the beauty in content modelling.