The term “design” conjures up a variety of concepts for the average reader. Graphic design, industrial design, web design, and user experience design are all terms we’re familiar with. A lot of this design involves content, but when we think of design, do we think of the content component of each of these kinds of design? Do we even think of the design of content?
In design thinking, there is a concept that is built, according to Tim Brown, on three axes: desirability, feasibility, and viability. The core of design thinking is that instead of thinking of a specific product, object, or output, we should use integrative thinking: examining problems and devising solutions, taking into account all the opposing forces to create those new solutions.
Applied to content, integrative thinking means human-centered content, and using the tensions between technology, user experience, change management, and web design to deliver content. In other words, we look at content as the primary object with which content consumers interact, then all the rest becomes a support mechanism – in other words, a content delivery mechanism. That doesn’t mean that content becomes the focal point. Content may be the central method of communication, but at the center needs to be the content consumers – the readers, viewers, listeners, prospects, customers, and former customers that are using our content to understand our stories, our products, and ultimately, our brands.
The ways that content consumers want to consume content is becoming more and more specialized, in more and more channels. The timeline for the divergent ways that content gets delivered has also sped up. After hundreds of years of print, we moved to electronic, then quickly to digital publishing: CDs, ebooks, the Web, DVDs, kiosks, to equipment, in software, mobile phones, tablets, shared, liked, and syndicated, ebooks redux, apps, Google glass – and the list grows.
Now we’re not looking only at ways to deliver content the best way possible under existing circumstances. Instead, we need to be looking at the 5Ws and H of what content consumers need – a convergent approach, and instead devise our solutions based on choices that we create – a divergent approach. The trusty old PDF is obsolete; the trusty old web page is becoming outmoded. Now we have to look beyond the page, beyond the site, beyond the design – we have to look at Big Content as a cousin to Big Design. The
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