Structured content: what does it mean and how do I do it?

Posted by on Sep 19, 2013 in Content Strategy | No Comments
Structured content: what does it mean and how do I do it?

It’s time to set our content free: to allow it to live anywhere, appear on any device and in any format, without “breaking.” As content strategists and developers, we need to start liberating our content — and the only way to do that is to put more structure around it.

There’s a lot of good thinking about structured content. If you are just learning about structured content, we’ve put together a list of great resources to help you learn more about the concept and begin to put it into practice in your own organization.

Books and ebooks on structured content

Content Strategy for Mobile by Karen McGrane
“If there’s one things we should have learned from the web, it’s that user behavior evolves more quickly than businesses realize. User expectations evolve and move forward, and only later do organizations hurry to catch up. If you’re wondering if you’re going to need to invest in getting your content on mobile, quit hoping you won’t have to. Your customers are already there.”

Content Everywhere by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
“Too often, today’s content is fixed: stuck to individual pages or in device-specific applications. But as connected devices get more varied, robust, and ubiquitous — and as users expect to find, relate, and share content in more and more ways — we need content that can go anywhere, its meaning and message intact.”

Nimble by Rachel Lovinger
“But libre, liberty, freedom. This is what content needs in order to survive. It must be free to go where and when people want it most. It must be free to be read or viewed on a wide range of portable and networked devices. It must be free to mix and mingle with services, social networks, apps, and content from other sources. In a highly connected world, content that’s trapped in a silo is basically invisible. And invisible content might as well not exist.”

Articles and blog posts

“COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere” by Daniel Jacobson, National Public Radio
“But to truly separate content from display, the content repository needs to also avoid storing “dirty” content. Dirty content is content that contains any presentation layer information embedded in it, including HTML, XML, character encodings, microformats, and any other markup or rich formatting information. This separation is achieved by the two other principles, content modularity and content portability.”

“Content Modelling: A Master Skill” by Rachel Lovinger, A List Apart
“More and more I find that the content model is one of the most important content strategy tools at my disposal. It allows me to represent content in a way that translates the intention, stakeholder needs, and functional requirements from the user experience design into something that can be built by developers implementing a CMS. The content model helps me make sure that the content vision becomes a reality.”

“When Editors Design: Controlling Presentation In Structured Content” by Jeff Eaton, Smashing Magazine
“Sadly, a common response in projects on a deadline is to give up on well-structured, reusable content. If the editors want control, let them jam HTML blobs into their stories — they can sort out the details! To avoid that chaos, some teams go to the opposite extreme. They pile dozens of custom fields onto each content type to capture every possible presentation option, or they give editors a menu of carefully tailored visual templates to choose from for each post … Both of these extremes can make cross-channel reuse more difficult because they all treat design-dependent information as an integral part of the content.”

Presentations and Workshops

Before You Touch the Tools: Strategies for Adopting Structured Content – Rahel Bailie

Modeling Structured Content – IAS13 Workshop, Mike Atherton

Content Modeling (Preview Version) – Cleve Gibbons and Rachel Lovinger

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