The Future Looks Bright If You Use Adaptive Content

I recently wrote a blog post on branching content , and now I’d like to explain the solution that will keep your audience happy in terms of content representation. Just for a moment, let’s imagine that all of your clients, regardless of whether they’re desktop or mobile, receive the same content on all platforms. This content is well-designed and properly structured: it works cross-platform. If you want to emphasize certain content for a specific group of users, you can do so effortlessly with the help of adaptive content.

Image credit: Intermission Studios

Adaptive content offers flexibility on all screen sizes and devices. But what’s its secret? Maximum structure for the content through attached metadata. Every time your content is opened, metadata provides the answer to the question of how it should look.

Adaptive content is made up of five major elements:

  • A Content Management System (CMS) that involves writers in creating content variations within one framework instead of tying together different content types from specific pages.
  • Content that can be spread regardless of display and device type, thanks to its structure.
  • Content that exists independently and that can be used again regardless of the platform.
  • Metadata that creates queries for the content in order to decide how best to fit it into a particular display.

When working with adaptive content, you need to keep in mind that it goes far beyond mobile. Remember the previews, videos, and articles you opened inside Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn? This means that your branded content needs to be ready to go everywhere–forget about your web page. Smart phones are dominating right now, but what if Google Glass becomes the number one gadget for everybody? Have you thought about how your content will look in it? Or maybe how an electronic assistant like Siri will read it out loud? Or on a TV set used as a monitor? Or on a kitchen table that could potentially become a giant tablet surface? Content doesn’t just live on one particular platform; it goes to a variety of platforms.

For example, the beautiful parallax Jeff Bridges also moves in the mobile version on Squarespace. The functionality of the website is identical. Therefore, the mobile version doesn’t lose anything when compared to the desktop version–the opportunity to support a costly promotion campaign with Jeff Bridges is also available for mobile.

If we look at the blog in both the desktop and mobile versions, we see that the content is the same as well.

Though there are small differences on each platform, that doesn’t mean that the content changes. The same content package implies a unique user experience on each platform, depending on what kind of textual or visual information is more reader-friendly on it. Each content delivery tool automatically decides how to represent the content, using the attached metadata. As a result, all the possible variations of the user experience are similarly great. It works the same way for mobile apps: you can download the content from the very same package, and there won’t be any duplicated work.

I’ll get deeper into each element of adaptive design in my next articles. But first, I’d like to know if you’ve tried adaptive design. What do you think are its most important elements?