Content Systems

The popularity of Design Systems has given way to increased productivity and connectivity to teams across organisations. The need for consistency, re-use and standards, amongst a plethora of other good reasons to invest in one, is a fine display of the value a centralised repository will bring.

When I tackle product and design problems, I like to approach with a holistic view to consider the overall system. This goes far beyond the style guide for web & apps, but into voice & tone, brand guidelines and pattern libraries. I have been thinking a lot lately about content systems.

COPE

Content should be created once, published everywhere. Easier said than done, given the variety of platforms that have their own formats, dimensions and unique requirements. Added to the variety of methods it takes to capture and produce content.

I’ve read a mountain of books on content strategy and most of the time, they are talking about writing. The very first and most important piece of content that should be worked on. But videos, photographs, illustrations, and so on, all require a unique set of skills to deliver. Even if you can give the work out to endless pool of talent, where do they get their direction from and how do you keep your content feeling the same, easily identified as your brand identity and voice?

System Thinking

Much like design systems commonly used in product design, a system of guides, patterns, and assets can be identified. This will speed up production and keep consistency across the mediums and the channels they will eventually live on.

Problem

I’ve often seen marketing teams pull the trigger on a campaign and then think their job is done. The production teams run around endlessly trying to obtain the latest assets. Present work and have marketing heads blast them for the wrong logo usage.

Solution

Off the top of my head, if I think about video for example. You could create your 4K YouTube template, complete with titles, visual aids, and audio. Add in intros and outros created for one project that will work across multiple projects. Then add in a LUT and an audio plugin. The list goes on. These are all unique to your brand. Share them centrally, instead of having individual contributors have to figure this out.

You should be looking for every opportunity to streamline your production and keep consistency priority. Content Systems offer a centralised repository where you can store assets for reuse, and guidelines for usage, standards, patterns and procedure.

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