Part I: Content—Is It Really ‘King?’

Part I: Content—Is It Really ‘King?’

Apr 17, 2012

“Content is King” is a well-worn meme that has been transmitted as received and accepted wisdom across the Web for so long and so often that people often repeat it without considering that the idea behind the phrase just might be completely misunderstood.

After all, if even the best content on the Web cannot be found, then it rules an invisible (and inaccessible) realm.

By comparison, in an increasingly ROI-oriented world, “conversion” (e.g., sales, lead generation, even captured email addresses) is certainly a major contender to wear the Web crown—or at least be recognized as a real power behind the Web dominance throne.

Content with your Content?

Content has been described simply as “the stuff in a website.”

Web content is the textual, visual or aural content that is encountered as part of the user experience on websites. It may include, among other things: text, images, sounds, videos and animations.

In “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web,” Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville write, “This may include documents, data, applications, e-services, images, audio and video files, personal Web pages, archived e-mail messages, and more.”

Content can mean blogs and microblogs, e-newsletters, e-books, e-zines, e-vites, white papers, articles, case studies, testimonials, webinars/webcasts, videos, magazines, (custom print and digital), mobile apps, online media newsrooms, content platforms, online games, infographics, web forms, wikis, guest books, polls, etc., etc.

Many people involved with creating and managing websites are now touting “content in context” as it relates to the overall customer experience—content plus design plus ease of navigation plus interactivity plus ease of communication and other features.

If the goal of using the Web is to find what you’re looking for—or if not that then something as equally compelling in the process—then content cannot work alone.

Too big a job.  Too much information (TMI) – according to WorldWideWebSize.com, the Indexed Web contained at least 13.23 billion pages as of Wed., August 31, 2011.

So, where does the help come from?

“Content is King, Search is Queen and Filters Are Their Offspring,” wrote Raymond Blijd in the January 26, 2011, Intelligent Solutions Blog.

“One obvious filter is to ask a person – usually a peer or colleague,” says Blijd. “Filters currently serving this purpose at a grand scale are Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Facebook overtook Google as the most visited site in the U.S. for 2010.”

Blijd also advocates bookmarking.  Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to organize, store, manage and search for bookmarks of resources online. Unlike file sharing, the resources themselves aren’t shared, merely bookmarks that reference them.

The main message in his post addresses content providers, who fight in the digital space for user face time, which makes it increasingly difficult to be exceptional.

“Although good branding and premium authors help you stand out on a bookshelf, additional features on top of content will tip the scale in a digital environment. Content providers should therefore move towards providing solutions instead of just information.”

Since few people possess programming schools, an entire industry has risen up to help meet this need.

Content Management Tools

Digital information has a definite life cycle—from generation to publishing to sharing to management to updating to archiving.

A content management system (CMS) is a collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a collaborative environment.

A Web content management system (WCMS) is a software system that provides website authoring, collaboration and administration tools designed to allow users with little knowledge of Web programming languages or markup languages to create and manage website content with relative ease. A robust WCMS provides the foundation for collaboration, offering users the ability to manage documents and output for multiple author editing and participation.

A great deal of Web content derives from content management systems that are used to organize and facilitate collaborative content creation.  This includes open source software like PHP: Hypertext Processor, a general-purpose server-side scripting language originally designed for Web development to produce dynamic Web pages.  This blog that you’re reading right now is created in WordPress, an open source blog tool and publishing platform powered by PHP and MySQL.

Here is the 2011 Top 10 CMS Vendors list from Business-Software.com:

Watch for this comer in 2012 — Cadence9 – http://cadence9.com

Content may or may not be king, but making it easy to find and use, relevant and up-to-date throughout your organization and by your customers / stakeholders is surely an important source of Web command and control.

Next week:

Part 2: Content “Curation”