Following her talk on “Orchestrating Content” at BDConf 2014, TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner got a chance to interview Sara Wachter-Boettcher, an independent content strategist who designs systems for “flexible, adaptable, future-friendly content” and focuses on creating mobile-ready content. She’s the author of Content Everywhere and the Editor in Chief of A List Apart. They discussed a broad range of topics surrounding the Internet’s seemingly insatiable need for ongoing content creation.
What is Content?
“When we talk about content on the web, I’m really talking about substance.” Wachter-Boettcher knows that online content takes on dozens of different forms, from words to images to video or audio, but it’s the substance within the content that matters. In other words, what tells the viewer/listener/watcher something important? What connects with them?
She also points to the web’s most basic and widely used content: words. “It’s a visual medium in a lot of ways, but we spend a lot of time sharing words online, and I don’t think that’s going to change.” Because written content is so necessary and so pervasive, she points to “writing problems” as often the most significant challenges content-creating organizations face in today’s connected culture.
That’s also why her content strategy sessions often focus on written content, because it’s often the first and most frequent content organizations share online.
What is the Value of Content Today?
Wachter-Boettcher gets straight to the point when asked a question that could have many answers: “The value of content is that we’re able to have relationships.” She cautions organizations to remember that everything they create is meant to connect with “a user, a reader, a customer, a human, a person.”
Within that framework of being able to communicate one-on-one, she lists content’s value as being seen in informing and educating audiences, as well as solving their problems. Substantive content isn’t created because an organization believes it needs more and more content to market itself. Rather, content with substance has value because of the help it provides to the reader.
How Should Organizations Change Their Thinking about Content Creation?
In the rest of her helpful interview, Wachter-Boettcher shares the top mistakes that designers, developers, and organizations tend to make when it comes to content creation, like:
- Creating purposeless content, i.e. filler content
- Displaying disorganized content
- Maintaining useless legacy content
- Making content inaccessible on multiple devices
- Not thinking through the company-wide ramifications of a content-based decision
Using Coca-Cola’s content marketing as an example, she also speaks about the near-future of content creation and why “more, more, more” isn’t the right approach.
Listen to the full TechnologyAdvice interview below. Her thoughtful answers will likely cause content creators, designers, and developers to ask themselves more questions, but such questions should help them to create meaningful content that connects with their audiences on a broad range of devices, now and into the future.
This interview was conducted by Clark Buckner of TechnologyAdvice, an Inc. 5000 company that is dedicated to educating, advising, and connecting the buyers and sellers of business technology. Clark hosts the TechnologyAdvice Podcast, and also keeps tabs on news and events in the company’s tech conference calendar. Tweet him a hello or connect with him on LinkedIn.