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Press Publish 2: Karen McGrane on building a strategy for mobile

The content strategist and UX designer says that mobile will be the fulcrum to push smart publishers to restructure their content for a multi-platform future.

It’s Episode 2 of Press Publish, the Nieman Lab podcast! My guest this week is Karen McGrane. She’s a content strategist and user experience designer who’s worked with a number of media companies — The New York Times, Condé Nast, The Atlantic, Time Inc., and others. (She was the design lead on the Times’ 2006 redesign — which, with a few accumulated tweaks, is still the basis of what NYTimes.com looks like today.)

Karen’s got a great new book out that I’d recommend you check out: Content Strategy for Mobile.

I think a lot of people would benefit from reading it — it’s not a technical book about building a mobile website. It’s more about the backend than the frontend; it’s about how publishers should structure their content — from workflows to tools to processes — to enable that content to flow across multiple platforms. In other words, if you view your task as optimizing for iPhone screens or Galaxy S III screens, you’re making the same mistake as when you optimized for desktop browsers. You will have to deal with new platforms in 2013 that you haven’t yet heard of, and being agile with your content is more important than picking a platform or two and building for them.

Karen and I also talk a bit about the basics of content strategy, new startups like Circa and Summly, responsive web design, and the possibilities (and absurdities) of responsive text. Hope you enjoy. (By the way, Wednesday is the day I’ll be aiming to put out a new episode each week.)

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Show notes

Karen McGrane
@karenmcgrane
Karen’s book, Content Strategy for Mobile
Razorfish
Content strategy
Karen’s “Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content,” An Event Apart Boston, 2012
The Daily
Blobs vs. chunks
Tumblr
Patrick LaForge: “Writers wonder why editors trim stories in the online report. Answer: Reader patience online is even more precious than newsprint space.”
Highlights from NPR in Karen’s book
Smashing Magazine: “Is There Ever a Justification for Responsive Text?”
Frankie Roberto’s demo of responsive text (resize the width of the browser window and watch what happens to the text to see)
Inverted pyramid
Karen’s “Your Content, Now Mobile,” A List Apart
Responsive web design
Circa
Summly

                                   
What to read next
library-shelves-of-academic-journals-cc
John Wihbey    
When journalists factcheck politicians (or don’t), how to flag bad behavior on social media, and getting past slactivism: all that and more in this month’s roundup of the academic literature.
  • http://www.dominickbrady.com DomBrady

    This is great stuff.  

  • http://www.niemanlab.org/ Joshua Benton

    Thanks — glad you like it!

  • xiangqin652

     http://al.ly/qxA

  • http://jacobwalsh.com/ Jake Walsh

    Enjoyed this discussion, especially your thoughts on responsive design.  I agree with you – the best option for content-heavy sites is probably a hybrid approach.  Article pages should be responsive, while the homepage, topic pages, etc. should be built with custom mobile templates to optimize download speed and ease of navigation.

    By the way, you and the Nieman lab folks should try a fun drinking game.  Listen to this podcast together and take a shot everything you say “Right, right” or Karen starts a sentence with “So…”   Play with caution…I blacked out at some point and woke up 4 days later wearing a dirty leotard in east Guadalajara.  No idea how I got there.