Content Strategy

Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits


Why “Content First” Makes Sense

Mobile first is the battle cry of many an organization today. The phrase make me grit my teeth to the point of pain. Here’s why.

I’ve been in the business long enough to remember when content was created in a “print only” world.

Then, it became print first, with substantial post-production work being done to create a version for online help. As a technical communicator, we had thousands of pages to maintain, and the conversion quickly became a tedious chore.

Eventually, the light went on and we flipped the paradigm, generating help-first content, with print becoming the secondary output. It soon became output to web, online help, and print. Then came ebooks (not the ebooks of today, but those of the early 1990s), and we were challenged to output to web, online help, print, and ebooks.

Technology was keeping up with needs of content but just barely. At some point, there was a joint realization that technology was moving too fast to place any one “first” in the middle. There was a push to create a system that would make content ready for any new thing that came along.

Now we have the mobile. And next year? Who knows. Trying to keep up is a mug’s game. You can’t keep pace – technology is moving too fast to continually be reworking content.

Technical communicators, often charged with writing the “dull” content, have figured out how to beat the system. (With thousands of pages to maintain, they had to!) Rather than focusing on any output, focus on the content. Then transform the content to whatever output is needed – even ones you may not know you need yet.

Download “Content First” Slides


Download: Multiplicity – Content Overload Hidden in Plain Sight

These slides are yours to use in your presentations to get across just how many actual deliverables can move through an organisation, and illustrate how necessary it is to have a content strategy to handle them all.

These slides summarize and illustrate concepts Noz and Rahel have both discussed on their blogs, and support the in-depth text of Chapter 16: The Nature of Content where we discuss “multiplicity”: the common state of having multiple stakeholders, outputs, channels and audiences involved in a content.

An modern organization can easily execute tens of thousands of publishing actions every year across their teams and departments. All this publishing, and the net effect on users, is often not visible to team members, managers and decision makers, because all the different moving parts and activities are spread out across time and space.

Publishing activities – digital and print – are grouped and managed within the boundaries of separate projects, channels, budgets and areas of the organizational chart.

In our projects, new and updated pages per year can easily exceed 100,000, multiplied by print and web this means nearly a quarter of a million pages needing (re)publishing with increasing demand for more versions of the content for specific audiences, and more formats.

Download “Multiplicity” Slides

See also:



Download: Yes Virginia, Even Chalk on the Sidewalk

Here’s our holiday gift for you:

Our first two downloadable slides for use when making the case for content strategy.  These slides look at the endless possibilities of semantic content and multi-format.

Enjoy and have a great break!

Download “Yes, Virginia” Slides