Scott Abel delivered his keynote It’s All About Structure! Why Structured Content Is Increasingly Becoming A Necessity, Not An Option in his usual style: Provocative, but relevant, fun and fast-paced (though he said he was going to take it slow). He even channeled George Carlin’s routine on Stuff: “These are ‘MY Documents’, those are YOUR documents. Though I can see you were trying get to MY Documents…”
His style doesn’t translate well onto a web page, so I’ll restrict myself to his 9 reasons Why Structured Content Is Increasingly Becoming A Necessity:
- Structure formalizes content, so it can guide authors who need to make fewer decisions when writing it. It also guides readers who can find more easily where the relevant information is in the whole documentation structure or within a topic. And it guides computers which can extract relevant information automatically and reliably.
- Structure enhances usability by creating patterns that are easy to recognize and easy to navigate with confidence.
- Structure enables automatic delivery and syndication of content, for example, via twitter – and you’ll be surprised occasionally when and how other people syndicate your “stuff”.
- Structure supports single-sourcing which means you can efficiently publish content on several channels, whether it’s print or different online outputs, such as a web browser, an iPad or a smartphone.
- Structure can automate transactions, such as money transfers, whether they are embedded in other content or content items in their own right.
- Structure makes it easier to adapt content for localization and translation, because you can chunk content to re-use existing translations or to select parts that need not only be translated but localized to suit a local market.
- Structure allows you to select and present content dynamically. You can decide which content to offer on the fly and automatically, depending on user context, such as time and location.
- Structure allows you to move beyond persona-ized content. This is not a typo: Scott doesn’t really like personas. He thinks they are a poor approximation of someone who is not you which is no longer necessary. With structured content (and enough information about your users) you can personalize your content to suit them better than personas ever let you.
- Structure makes it much easier to filter and reuse content to suit particular variants, situations and users.