Regardless of the medium, content will always rule. We’ve heard that in some form or another a lot over the years and it still holds true. My kids are still of the age where I read to them almost nightly. I’ve read lots of new (to me) books and some of them are good. But what I really get a kick out of is reading things I remember from my own childhood. I love it because it brings back a rush of memories and sometimes emotion. It’s just fun to see my own kids really dig something that I remember and love from decades ago. It’s not the wrapper or cover that it comes in, it’s the story, the pictures, the content that is special.
With the emergence of new technology and our focus on new uses and applications, I still find that the things that provide me the best, most interesting content are what I gravitate to. I have a bunch of apps that provide utility and those are great and useful things. Some are just tools, but some provide great and useful content, it just so happens that it’s served up on my phone, not in a book or on a web site. Presentation is important and making the content viewable and useful is paramount to the success of just about anything. However, beautifully designed or crafted things (TV spots, web sites, emails you name it) that are void of substantive and meaningful content, content that tells a story or connects in some, way just don’t last. We watched the original Star Wars trilogy recently in our house and that has really stood the test of time. Some of the special effects are dated (although still holding their own) but the story is just solid. The kids had no idea that the first movie is now 34 years old, they didn’t care. They were entranced by the characters, the story and the idea of it.
In advertising we talk of telling stories and content strategies. We talk about “breaking through” and having staying power. All of those things are true but the root of how to achieve those things is content. It can be a video, a game, an app for your phone or an article, blog post or Tweet, the form is far less important than the content. Sometimes the form is part of the story – or at least adds to it and that’s great too. That’s where innovation really comes in. A few of us were reviewing some old design documents and came across a series of template designs for a client from 12 years ago. We chuckled at the design some and pretty much laughed at the names we gave the templates, but you know what, that product, that program was a huge success and the content was the reason. The designs were fine at the time and the blending of how the content was displayed was more than serviceable, but we sold that thing like hotcakes. I recall that the feedback was because of the usefulness of what was there. It was simple, easy to use but the content carried the day.
Keep working and pushing the user experience. Make it work for the consumer. That is incredibly important. But also make sure that the content is given its due as well. Take time to think through what you want to say, how you want to say and what you want people to do, feel or say after consuming it. Technology is the conduit but the content is what connects.