by Noz Urbina
Rick Yagodich has set himself a major challenge: bring the market a message that it really needs, but doesn’t really want to hear. Or at least, it doesn’t yet realize it needs to hear it. He has taken on the daunting task of telling those who fund, select, implement, and design configurations for content management systems to do something quite difficult: think of other people first.
If we’re brutally honest, many of us will find it intuitively true that in business we often put ourselves in the middle of the question being asked. Our roles, our backgrounds, our ways of thinking, and our language color our understanding of business challenges and, especially, their solutions. As the saying goes, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But our hammers are simply not good enough. With the diversity of challenges intrinsic to today’s content delivery, they’re no longer fit for purpose (if they ever were).
We’re in an industry where change rains down so hard and fast that looking several steps ahead is the only way to avoid being swept away and drowned. We haven’t managed to get everyone up to speed on fundamentals like structure and semantics, much less domain models, adaptive content, linked data, or augmented reality. Nevertheless, because of the nature of this market, we have no choice but to keep building up our platforms while the change-storm rages.
So far, we’ve been using our hammers as best we could to build a protective shelter, but we’ve arguably had to go about it in a backwards way.
We started at visual web design and SEO, and worked inward. It was like building the roof to keep us dry before building the house or laying the foundations. Inevitably, the results were fragile and imperfect, at best. Many of us got wet – or positively soaked. In recent years, information architecture and user experience have become recognized pillars to hold the roof up. That was good progress, but it still left us exposed. Now we’re finally realizing we need the rest of house to keep us safe, productive, and dry for the years to come; content strategy, semantic structures, smarter content models and omnichannel thinking are all now gaining mass-market understanding and will serve us well.
What we are still lacking to give our content agility – to really keep the house strong over time – is attention to the foundation it is all built on: authors. This is where author experience comes in. At long last, but not too late, organizations are waking up to the fact that author experience must be addressed to optimize our solutions. We’ve lacked a champion of that indispensable class of users who actually create all this “stuff” for us in the first place. Rick has stepped up. This book describes and illuminates a discipline that unites the author experience on one end with end-user experience on the other. He describes how applying this discipline can generate benefits for users of both types, and the organizations with which they’re engaging.
I call Author Experience a “second generation” book about content solutions. While reading it you’ll see that it implicitly says, “For ‘Intro to’s and ‘101’s on the other content concepts there are already books out there for you. To strengthen our house we have new ground to break, new work to do, and new tools to develop.”
At some point you need to get beyond the basics and reach new levels of sophistication, understanding, and refinement. If your strategy in the content world is “Just do the basics and plug the worst leaks,” you’ll quickly find yourself neck deep in issues. The market’s evolving too fast for a keep-up strategy. This book will bring you the knowledge you need to resolve issues you hadn’t fully recognized you had, yet. Read it, and if needed, read it again. Read the footnotes. Take it all in. When you have, you’ll see its real message is simple: author experience is vitally important, it’s complicated, and it’s broken; so now let’s get started on fixing it.
Discussing the consequences of being penny wise and pound foolish in content management, with Rahel Anne Bailie…
Talking about the challenges of dealing with the business’ subconscious mind, with Elizabeth McGuane…
Discussing the benefits of a structured content management implementation on a system upgrade, with Jeff Eaton…