9 May 2012
Jesse Grimes
Jesse Grimes

The content delivery challenge for mobile

During the late-90s and early-00s – before CMS solutions were widespread – the creation and maintenance of content in the hard-coded website world was inefficient and labor-intensive. And although today’s CMS’s revolutionized content management, they still suffer from a flaw brought about by technology adoption: They can’t easily support a responsive design approach and deliver common content for both the desktop and mobile platforms. How can this multi-channel approach be delivered?

Following on from our recent post on the challenges of content strategy in the age of mobile, Karen McGrane tackles the same issue, and comes to our common conclusion. Simply put, having to maintain both a desktop and mobile website is a nightmare to be avoided. But the thorny issue here?

Most websites simply don’t have a content management backend that will support populating different design templates with different content. Content assets (like text fields, images, and supporting files or media) are usually locked to a specific output format or design. That wasn’t a problem until now, because no one expected the WCMS to have to support publishing to different channels – the desktop web was all there was.

The fact that the WCMS works this way is no mere ‘implementation detail.’ Unfortunately, it’s fundamental to the way content is published on the web today. We’ve got to fix this if we’re going to deliver optimised experiences on desktop and mobile.

Responsive design, alongside a mobile-friendly content strategy are the answer:

  • Quit thinking you can just guess what subset of content a “mobile user” wants. You’re going to guess wrong.
  • While you’re at it, quit thinking your current mobile analytics will help you make the right decision. Today’s crummy, crippled mobile experiences are inadequate environments for evaluating what people really want to do on mobile.
  • Focus on getting all of your desktop content into a format where it can be comfortably viewed on mobile devices, whether by creating a new set of templates for mobile, a responsively designed site, or some combination of the two (say, keeping your current desktop site and building responsive templates to cover the range of phones and tablets.)
  • Once you have all your content on mobile, gradually figure out how to prioritise information differently. For example, your homepage for mobile might be different from your desktop homepage. But base that on real data about how people are using your full set of content on mobile – don’t just assume you know best.
  • If you discover that some of your content just isn’t useful to anyone – it’s outdated,  badly-written, or irrelevant – then take this opportunity to clean it up. Desktop users will benefit too!
  • Fix your CMS. If you’re imagining a future where you can publish different content to mobile vs desktop, you’ve got work to do to make sure your tools, processes, and workflow will support that.
Source: A separate mobile website: no forking way (Karen McGrane a.k.a. @karenmcgrane)


Content strategy (20), Mobile design (8)