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A Reflection on Karen McGranes DrupalCon Portland Keynote

I just finished listening to the DrupalCon Portland’s Wednesday keynote presented by Karen McGrane about UX experience and content for all devices. Watch the keynote here.

What I took away from her talk was, we need to start thinking about our content in a way that can be used in many places and not just thinking about the one spot we want it in at this very moment we request it. Wow is this really a new way of thinking? I’ve been working with Drupal for the past 5 years starting with Drupal 5 in 2008. At my last job prior to Acquia the team I worked on built all our sites on Drupal 6 exactly how Karen was recommending, but the end users weren’t ready for that approach. We built a content type that would create just a page full of meta data related to each one of our products. Some example fields we used were; image fields to upload the product box image at every angle, 150 character product overview field, 300 character product overview field, feature list field, benefits field and so on. This node was then used to populate views and template files that created our product pages, store pages and paid search landing pages throughout our website. Those fields were then able to be edited in one place and changed everywhere. We didn’t build the site responsive at that time but we would have easily had all the content available to use however we wanted if we did.

Karen McGrane

This worked well for us as site builders but was a constant frustration for end users and content editors because they would want to change the content in the feature list of just 1 page and get frustrated when I would explain that if you change it here it will change in all other places it exists and that’s not how they wanted to edit. I now realize we were ahead of our time with this. We got through it by re-iterating to the content editors that those fields were used in more places than that one page they were looking at and eventually it got easier. Although I believe now they ripped and replaced this content strategy back to the end user desired static content pages. I felt validated with today’s keynote and that this can be done, I did it already. This makes me excited to start thinking about the content strategy and information architecture for acquia.com moving forward. Let me know if you’ve done similar approaches to the one I explained before, I would like to know other methods before I build my next plan of attack.

Follow @karenmcgrane or follow me @katefogarty

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