Content Is KING!
Jared Spool's latest email included these notes about content:
Letter from the Editor: Content's Challenges
We just got back from the CHI 2002 conference -- an annual gathering
of people who are interested in the latest research in usability and
design issues. (http://www.acm.org/chi2002) This conference was a
particularly fascinating one, focusing on both new advances and new
One of the issues that kept coming out at the conference was the
focus on how content has changed everything. In the old days, we
never paid attention to content. When we designed a product, like a
word processor, we only focused on how the user interacted with the
product. We never focused on what they wrote -- their content.
But now, browsers don't really do anything without content. What
makes or breaks a web site is the content involved. And content is
How should it be organized? How should it be written? What can we
leave out? What must we include? Does order matter? Does presentation
matter? We're just now getting a glimpse of how much we need to learn
to answer these questions. . .
. . . What are your thoughts about the challenges presented when you have to deal with content? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from
Jared M. Spool, Editor
I took up the challenge and wrote back with these thoughts about "content":
You opened the door by asking about content. Let me tell you about content.
Here's what one blogger has to say:
"Seems to me, the big problem with the word "content" is that the terminology is mostly used by those who are NOT creating the "content" but rather the merchandisers of said "content" The word has a serious p.o.v. problem. . . The word instantly separates the person who creates from the person who profits by the creation." Read the rest at http://halleyscomment.blogspot.com/?/2002_05_05_halleyscomment_archive.html, then see http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/ for Dave Weinberger's take on the same subject.
Technical communicators have known all along that content is king--and by content we mean words, writing, conversation, information, not commodity devoid of its originator. Without it, the Web and other media are just empty containers, nicely decorated but inherently meaningless.
Sounds to me that what you're talking about are issues we tech writers have grappled with for years: organization, navigation, accessibility, readability, meaning. We're just as concerned with usable interfaces as you are, because a well-designed interface doesn't need documentation, whereas a poorly designed interface is nearly impossible to document. And we've learned how to answer questions such as "Does order matter? Does presentation matter?"
No need to reinvent the wheel, just get your technical communicators and information architects involved. You'll be glad you did.
Content IS King!