Mark Dorison

Preparing Your Content for Today

Karen McGrane Keynote - Drupalcon Portland #

Karen McGrane gave a fantastic keynote at Drupalcon Portland this week titled, Thriving in a World of Change: Future-Friendly Content with Drupal. Unsurprisingly, Karen was able to boil down some of the most salient issues that publishers are struggling with, whether they realize it yet or not.

It's Not Just About Responsive #

“Responsive design won’t fix your content problem. This is not a technology problem, it’s a human problem.” – @karenmcgrane #drupalcon

— Mark Dorison (@markdorison)
May 22, 2013

Many of us have jumped on the bandwagon of responsive design (for good reason!), but this is just where the battle starts, not where it ends. Determining how to correctly structure our content is not a particularly hard problem to solve; however, it will take a concerted effort from all parties who have a seat at the table. The details are going to be different with every content library and it will take some work, but what's much harder is the willingness to set out on this journey. Which brings us to...

Team Blob vs. Team Chunk #

“Metadata is the new art direction.” – @studip101 “Metadata is a love note to the future.” – @textfiles #drupalcon

— Mark Dorison (@markdorison)
May 22, 2013

When we talk about blobs vs. chunks, we are referring to the differences between giant blobs of WYSIWYG formatted HTML as opposed to individual fields for different parts of a piece content complete with metadata. Editors love blobs (of course they do)! All those chunked fields are confusing and there is always something that they want to accomplish that it restricts them from doing.

“Content can’t live on pages anymore. We need to manage content packages.” @karenmcgrane #drupalcon

— Mark Dorison (@markdorison)
May 22, 2013

Many editors prefer one giant blob field as they can just drop their content in one field and be done with it. This may even accomplish their immediate goal of marking up the content for what it will look like on the desktop version of their web site. Nevertheless, they are doing themselves a huge disservice. If they don't realize this yet, they will the moment they have the have an opportunity to syndicate or distribute their content to another site, application or service, and all the data is in one giant blob. The fact of the matter is, if they wait to chunk the data, someone is going to have to go back and clean it up, most likely at a high cost. We need to inspire and educate our partners in (content) crime about the rewards that this work will reap.

Future-friendly & Accessible #

"The problem of future friendly content and accessibility are the same thing." @karenmcgrane #DrupalCon

— Larry Garfield (@Crell)
May 22, 2013

Another compelling reason to be on "Team Chunk" is how accessible it will make your content. Screen readers and devices such as the iPhone do an amazing job enabling content for visually impaired users. If your content is structured semantically and without unnecessary markup, this gives you the best chance at delivering your content to clients' devices in the most accessible way possible.

Why the WYSIWYG Needs to Go #

President of the WYSIWYG haters club, @karenmcgrane says “The web is not a laser printer.”

— John Albin Wilkins (@JohnAlbin)
May 22, 2013

If graphic designers can give up pixel-perfect design, content managers can give up WYSIWYG. #DrupalCon

— Avi Schwab (@ajschwab)
May 22, 2013

The battle against pixel-perfect expectations from our design colleagues has come a long way in the past few years, but we also need to be having this dialog with our content managers. It is our job to help our editors understand the great benefits in disconnecting what they see in the CMS from what is presented on a rendered web page. Most of these content workers are working on desktop computers, so it is important to reinforce the idea that the desktop HTML rendering of their site is but one of many potential destinations for the content they manage in the CMS. If you work with content managers that don't show an interest in how their content is going to be presented beyond a desktop web page, you may have a serious problem.

The Part Where We Get Excited #

This discussion is no longer theoretical. We have quickly moved from a world where we may have known strategically that it was a good idea to structure our content well without tactical use cases; now, we can't escape them. As we go about our days encountering screens from the small (smartphones and tablets) to the large (connected televisions, all the way to billboards), we see first-hand all of the destinations that our content needs to travel to. The sooner we get our content structured cleanly and discretely, the sooner we can put it to work. Karen put quite a bow on it with this:

The web isn’t print. We’ve got millennia of history creating print documents where there’s no distinction between content and form, and only about 20 years of web publishing experience. This is a Gutenberg level transition we’re going through here.

What are you doing to help affect this change? I'd love to hear about it on Twitter.


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