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Book Review: Content Strategy for Mobile

Did you know that by 2015, more Americans will access the Internet through mobile devices than through desktop computers? This prediction by the International Data Corporation underscores the importance of getting content right for mobile devices.

If you’ve been tasked by management to make your documentation compatible with mobile, first of all, don’t panic. Secondly, grab a copy of Karen McGrane’s book, Content Strategy for Mobile.Useful and filled with pragmatic advice, McGrane’s book offers specific instruction on how to get content to render appropriately on mobile devices.

McGrane is no stranger to designing content for multiple platforms, having been the National Lead for User Experience at Razorfish and now as Managing Partner of her own user experience consultancy, Bond Art + Science.

Whereas some content strategists believe providing less content on mobile platforms is the recipe for success, McGrane is adamant that designing for mobile doesn’t mean that you serve up less content. “It’s not a subset of your desktop website,” she emphasizes.

Instead, she recommends creating adaptive content, or content that is flexible and can adjust to different screen sizes and present itself in different variations based upon the platform needs. She cites National Public Radio’s COPE model for content creation: Create Once, Publish Everywhere. Instead of revising content on every website and instance where it exists (and potentially missing a spot or two), all of the content resides in the content management system and is dispersed to the platform in different forms.

“With adaptive content, your goal is to create a flexible base of content with a variety of uses and contexts,” says McGrane.

The nitty-gritty of adaptive content includes creating content in different formats and in various sizes, depending upon which platform is being used. The key to determining which content to serve up for the right device lies in the metadata. And it’s crucial to rethink your workflow with your team members. “Your content isn’t going to take care of itself,” she says.

McGrane goes on to detail the process of creating adaptive content, including how to conduct a content inventory and audit, how to structure your information architecture, and how to reconfigure your workflow. All in all, it’s a no-nonsense guide to repurposing your content for all platforms, including mobile.