Recently, OMB released M 17-06, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites and Digital Services, which provides agencies with requirements, standards, and best practices for federal websites and digital services. This new policy might have some of us reflecting on our websites and applications to make sure we are in compliance. This task might seem overwhelming, but the following methodology might just serve as a much needed guide. Recently, we interviewed Sara Wachter-Boettcher, author of Content Everywhere: Strategy and Structure for Future-Ready Content.
We recently interviewed Sara Wachter-Boettcher, author of Content Everywhere: Strategy and Structure for Future-Ready Content. Sara, a frequent conference speaker, runs a content strategy consultancy, and is the co-author of Design for Real Life. She has extensive experience consulting with major brands, universities, agencies, nonprofits, and others to make their content more memorable, manageable, and sustainable. How would you describe structured content? Most content on the web is unstructured, meaning it’s just a page with blobs of text on it.
Structuring your content for portability across media platforms gives your agency the ability to not only place your message on other properties, but gives you the assurance that your information will always be up-to-date across multiple platforms. This ability is never more important than during an emergency, whether it is a natural disaster or a health crisis such as the Zika virus disease. Three members of the Open and Structured Content Working Group discussed all things structured content during the “Creating Portable Content with Structured Content Models” webinar earlier this year.
As I begin to wind down my time at The Content Corner, I have realized that one of my biggest content concerns uncovered during my tenure is digital sharecropping. The recent announcement from Facebook that they will soon open their Instant Articles publishing capability to everyone was reason enough for me to revisit the topic of owning and controlling our content one more time. While I dislike the term digital sharecropping (coined by Nicholas Carr), I haven’t found a better or more succinct explanation for this ongoing drive for private companies and platforms to own our content (while we do all the work).
We are pleased to announce the beginnings of a new Syndication.Net/Sharepoint module for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Syndication Storefront. The collaborative effort between HHS and National Institutes of Health’s (NIH), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) teams will eventually enable .NET content management system users to publish content directly in the HHS digital media syndication storefront. How did they do it, and what’s next?
A recent DigitalGov webinar on syndicated content and the recent achievements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped open my eyes even wider to the possibilities of open and structured content. By offering critical health information via syndication, CDC and other Department of Health and Human Services agencies are helping resource-strapped local agencies share critical Web content with very little effort. APIs and Syndication Structured content and APIs form the core of any open content platform, whether it be syndication or other types of data sharing.
With 14 test cycles under our belt, the Federal CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program has heard one recurring theme from our testers—”there’s too much information!” While both desktop monitor and smartphone screen sizes are growing, there is still no comparison. At our desks, many of us are using a 24 inch (or even bigger) monitor. How big is your smart phone? Way smaller than a desktop monitor. The user will have a radically different experience on a desktop, and they are usually expecting a different experience.
Several months ago I discussed the concept of a world without Web pages and the importance of structured content and thinking about content, not pages. This week, I’m taking that discussion further by discussing the importance of modularity in Web design and how that complements our efforts to create more structured and reusable data. Break It Down One of the critical aspects of our current efforts in structured data and adaptive content is the reductionary process.
For the past several weeks, I have been inflicting you with my recent dive down the rabbit hole of natural language generation and the larger discipline of natural language algorithms. Most of the focus has been on the power of natural language generation and how it can help you rapidly produce content on a wide array of topics in an easy to read format with little effort on the part of a human.
Nearly half of companies recently surveyed said that automating content creation would save their content marketing teams the most time. We’ve already covered Natural Language Generation (NLG) algorithms and how they have made some forms of automated content generation a reality already, such as for sports recaps or financial data reporting. Let’s take a deeper look at how NLG can help your agency rapidly deploy new content and provide a more personalized content experience for users.
England’s Government Digital Service (similar to our own U.S. Digital Services and 18F) did a study of how content on their websites is consumed on mobile and non-mobile devices and learned several key points for a future-focused and mobile-friendly government organization: Mobile platforms account for the lion’s share of most of their content (see their graphic above), so being mobile-first and at least mobile-optimized is mandatory. More intense, complex tasks are still frequently started on desktops, but young and less affluent users expect to be able to do them on their smartphone.
Over the past several years, DigitalGov has been extremely focused on structured content, content models, and their role in future-ready content (and rightly so). A shift of focus back to the content itself as opposed to where it will be published is critical for agencies as we aim to reach as many customers as possible, regardless of what device or screen they are using. Making the end user an extremely high priority in our content publishing is also important, but there are several other user groups that we need to make sure aren’t lost in the shuffle:
Content models provide an opportunity for agencies to structure, organize, distribute, and better publish information in multiple forms and on multiple platforms. Federal agencies discussed why content models are important for future-facing content in our What Structured Content Models Can Do For You Webinars in May and June. The point—with good content models, a single piece of Web content becomes an adaptive information asset that can be leveraged anytime, anywhere.
Structured content and open content models can help you create content that is platform-agnostic, format-free, and device-independent. This was the theme of the “What Structured Content Can Do For You: Article Model” webinar last month. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG25vyQ5Jps&w=600] Using a content model is less about how you are crafting your message and more about how the internet is going to react to your content or how you can manipulate it, according to Holly Irving from the National Institutes of Health, Russell O’Neill from the General Services Administration, and Logan Powell from U.
Smartphones, tablets, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, not to mention your agency’s desktop website, are all clamoring for information, but sliced and diced in different ways. How can you make your content adaptive for efficient delivery to all of these mediums? Structured content and open content models can help you create content that is platform-agnostic, format-free, and device-independent. We’ve created two open and structured content models that we want you to use and adapt.
Structured content refers to the concept of organizing and treating digital content like data. It’s a way of publishing content as modular, discrete pieces of information that are tagged with machine-readable descriptions. Structured content has the potential to transform how people find, understand, share, and use government information. Why Structured Content Matters Most digital content published by the federal government is still found on static HTML Web pages. This unstructured content doesn’t always adapt well to smaller screens, and it’s harder to discover, share, or reuse the information.
A case study on how the Department of Education used the Drupal content management system (CMS) to publish press releases as structured content to automatically generate listing pages and reduce errors and posting time. The Challenge The Department of Education was posting press releases using a system that posted them as static HTML files. The site design required press releases to be linked from several different pages, but the system was not designed to create those links automatically.
_ Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention._ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses content syndication to share important health information with a variety of federal public health agencies, state and local public health departments, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and commercial organizations. Why We Did It CDC developed content syndication to give our public health partners and other interested parties the tools to deliver credible content directly to their visitors.