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.