Universal content : WTF is that?

The Future.

In a world where content is king, content has become ubiquitous. And that requires different thinking.

We call this DIGITAL FIRST, rather than pigeon-holing into device-specific containers in the way MOBILE FIRST does.

Well-structured content is at the heart of good design, and how the content adapts to different media types (web sites, Twitter, forums, comments, email etc) is as relevant as it’s ability to adapt to different devices.

These media containers have different rules and purposes but the last thing you want to be doing is creating unique (specialised?) content for each container. There might be the odd case where you may wish to optimise the content for a specific container, but generally you should aim to support all of them.

This means using a structure to your content that works with all forms of containers. From 160 characters on Twitter to multi-thousand worded digital services such as Wikipedia.

Usefully, its pretty straightforward enough to create adaptive and responsive design, especially if you’re using a modern web framework such as WordPress. But having responsive design baked-into the web platform doesn’t cure the problem of managing content.

The content therefore must have a structure that meets the needs of all digital mediums. Hence digital first, think about the content not as a single piece of narrative but as blocks of content that elegantly break up into nice digestible chunks.

Creating a digestible structure helps both the reader and the medium to chunk the content is a friendly manner. That doesn’t mean we forget mobile-first, oh no – we need to be mindful that mobile devices are the single most common digital device but other exist as well.

Create the content to work on any device, and you have universal content. But watch out, the world is changing faster than you can possibly imagine.

Know with certainty that if you design for today’s devices then you will create problems down the line. And we also know in the next 5 years that every new device manufactured and sold for more £50 will be connected to internet.

That means there will be ten times as many internet-connected devices out in the wild over the next 5 years than were released in the first 20 years of the web (75,000,000,000 say some observers).