Why Content and Structure Don’t Belong Together

By James Knutila on Friday, August 30, 2013

Why Content and Structure Don’t Belong Together
Can you name the number of devices your website can be viewed on? How about a year from now? One company found 11,868 devices in July 2013 -- and that’s just Android. Getting your website to work well in the multi-screen world is a daunting task. Responsive and adaptive design can help, but they will only go so far without a future-friendly approach to your site’s most basic element: content.

The Content Problem

Too often, content is created for device-specific formats and features. The costs of maintaining unique web experiences quickly becomes unsustainable over time. For example, let’s say you have a website created with an existing CMS, and you want to adapt your content to the latest and greatest tablet screen. A simple cost equation:

Number of pages x hours per page = total time to adapt content

Let’s say your site has 15 pages, and it takes 3 hours for a developer to adapt each page:

15 pages x 3 hours per page = 45 hours

That’s a week of valuable development time. Now repeat for each additional device profile.

Most content management systems only make things worse. Many CMSs mimic word processors, created with ideas borrowed from print publishing. Responsive and adaptive techniques won’t work properly if content is tied to outdated structure.

The Content Solution

Unfortunately, there's no such thing as responsive content -- it remains static. The best we can do to prepare our content for the future is to make it flexible and free of structure. A good content strategy focuses content to work in as many different contexts as possible.

Content needs a CMS that allows this flexibility. A future-friendly CMS stores content separately from presentation and structure, so that it is flexible enough for future devices.

The right approach to content will mean the difference between a future-friendly website, and one that costs time and resources to maintain on next year’s devices. Manage your content so that’s it’s flexible and free of structure, and you won’t have to worry about what devices come out next year.

Image via Drupal

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