The Homepage Exception

Structured, automatic systems are great at managing content efficiently—but not so great at accommodating human changes in that content. On the other hand, free-for-all WYSIWYGs lead to inconsistency and breakdowns. Stakeholders and content administrators need flexibility and control, especially where the all-important homepage is concerned. What’s a website to do? Johanna Bates suggests embracing a people-friendly homepage solution within our robot-driven architectures.

Crafting a Design Persona

Every product has a personality—but is yours deliberately designed? Meg Dickey-Kurdziolek shows you how Weather Underground solved its personality problems by creating a design persona, and teaches you collaborative methods for starting a personality adjustment in your company.

Approaching Content Strategy for Personalized Websites

Experience management systems are making it easier than ever to customize content for your visitors—but are you using your newfound personalizing powers for good (or for creepy)? Colin Eagan shows that personalization can be done, thoughtfully, using the same tools you would apply to any content strategy conundrum: by asking why, being deliberate, and putting users first.

What Really Matters: Focusing on Top Tasks

Every piece of web content is important—or so every stakeholder insists. But what happens when dozens, even hundreds, of different tasks battle for space on your homepage and in your navigation? It’s time to make some hard choices about what does and doesn’t belong. Gerry McGovern demonstrates how to zero in on the tasks that matter most to your users.

The Core Model: Designing Inside Out for Better Results

We’ve all fallen into territorial arguments about what content belongs on a site’s homepage. It’s the most important part of your website, after all—or is it? Ida Aalen shows us how to circumvent these turf wars with the Core Model approach, starting with a workshop to get everyone on the same page about what really counts as important—to your users. By identifying the core elements of your website as a team, you’ll make those smaller decisions about page design and content placement a lot faster, and without getting political about it.

The Specialized Web: Working with Subject-Matter Experts

Content strategists often rely on the specialized knowledge of subject-matter experts (SMEs) to get the job done. But that job isn’t always straightforward; it’s complicated by different perspectives, communication styles, and project goals. Amanda Costello shows us how people skills—and the right mindset—can lead to better collaboration with SMEs and a smoother process from start to finish.

Training the CMS

Launching a site powered by lovingly crafted content models is a joy. But what happens in the weeks that follow, as authors start entering new content into the CMS? If you want to keep your well-structured content intact and on strategy, a training PDF won’t cut it. Let Eileen Webb show you what will: getting editorial guidelines where your authors need them most—in the CMS itself.

Gardens, Not Graves

The stream is great for showing timely, scannable content. But solely organizing by reverse chronology leads to a dire loss of context. What can we do to make content easier to understand for those coming across it for the first time? Allen Tan explores methods for turning our untended archives into lively, flourishing spaces.

The Battle for the Body Field

As we attempt to combine multi-device design requirements with complex, media-rich narratives, we’ve hit the wall. The chunky, fields-and-templates approach we’ve developed can’t save us from the mismatch between our content and HTML’s descriptive tools. The good news is we don’t have to convert all our projects to XML to learn from the XML community’s wisdom. By using custom elements and properties to represent content’s meaning, transforming it into HTML on output, and ensuring that editing tools share the same vocabulary, we can publish structured content that supports the needs of today’s editors and art directors while also making our content safe for future generations.

Responsive Design Won’t Fix Your Content Problem

For years, we’ve told clients to serve the same content to every platform. We explained that Responsive Web Design allows content to squish itself into any container. Is it any wonder, then, that the belief has slowly grown that RWD can act as a substitute for actual content strategy?