In the third of our five-part series on adaptive content, Noz Urbina looks at how adaptive content is changing the way content professionals work, the kind of skills needed and where the new generation of content modellers is coming from.
Whose job is it?
Adaptive content has greater and lesser impacts along the entire content production life cycle. Within a team there is sometimes a dedicated content modeller but this isn’t a usual job title. Content strategists with the right skills and training can often model content, as can the up-and-coming ‘content engineers’. You might be able to see how those that do editorial and template design work would be good at modelling content as well.
Although it may not be a dedicated job title – yet – content modelling is a fast-growing field that lives on the borderlands between content strategy, information architecture and data modelling.
It’s less techie than data modelling but definitely still needs an analytical mind. It’s more detailed and has to be more technically aware than the work of many content strategists, but it still must take into account ease of use by authors, governance, and commercial concerns such as maintainability.
When does content modelling take place?
The biggest impact is at the two ends of a project: initial planning and analysis, and the actual publishing stage. These two extremes should handle the complexity so it doesn’t fall on authors and creators in the middle.
Up front, the ability to adapt content to nuanced personas implies doing more research, analysis and planning more time for creation or validation of content types and models.
During creation, we want to avoid loading the authors with excessive complexity but they will need to care and engage.
Helping content creators adapt to adaptive content
There are many ways to reduce complexity for content authors but, essentially, tools and guidelines should make the creation of content as straightforward as possible. Using visual feedback for what content is tagged as what (without being visually overwhelming), templates that are clear without being rigid, and the ability to preview what different personas will actually see, are all important.
If you’re writing a piece, for example, for five different audiences that could be in five different life cycle phases (or regions, etc) then you have 25 different potential combinations. Being able to preview at least a few of these to make sure your content is appearing sensibly really helps authors transition. Conversely, authoring all those combinations creates a significant requirement for work on the system’s author experience.
You can sell any increase in work to authors with the benefit of having to not rework the same content for every channel and audience by hand (and then handle all the updates when something changes). If you are an author, you can also consider the improvement in user experience that your content will enable if this extra investment is made.
Delivery systems have to be capable of then detecting all these parameters and processing the content. Again, the solutions here are myriad. There are no best tools or process flows, just ‘most appropriate’ ones.
Your next steps
In our final post, Noz will be looking at where you can skill up in adaptive content. He’ll also be posting a list of useful resources from podcasts and articles, webinars to workshops. Or you can read all five adaptive content posts in the series.
For a deeper understanding of adaptive content for content creators, Noz is also holding a series of training workshops in the UK and the USA this autumn on Content Personalisation Workshop: Adaptive Content Modeling – to explain the trend, and why it is increasingly on the radar of both businesses and content professionals alike.
Firehead readers can get a a 10% discount offer for any Urbina Consulting-run workshop (this doesn’t include workshops run in conjunction with conferences or third parties). Register with the code ‘UCNW10’ and you’ll get an extra 10% off entry (right now that means London but not New Orleans).
Noz Urbina is an author, content strategist and founder of Urbina Consulting.