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Karen McGrane on adaptive content, mobile design, and her new book


For more than 15 years, Karen McGrane has helped create more usable digital products through the power of user experience design and content strategy. As Managing Partner at Bond Art + Science, she develops web strategies and interaction designs for publishers, financial services firms, and healthcare companies. Karen is also on the faculty of the MFA in Interaction Design program at SVA in New York, where she teaches Design Management, which aims to teach students how to run successful projects, teams, and businesses.


You're about to release a new book on content strategy. What's it about?

Karen McGrane, Bond Art + ScienceIt's called Content Strategy for Mobile and it will be published by A Book Apart. I discuss the challenges that we face getting our content out onto all these new devices and platforms. To succeed, we have to start thinking Content First. How should our content be structured so it can be reused more efficiently? How do we think about design when we know our content will appear in many different form factors and screen sizes? I discuss why it's so important for organizations to commit to publishing all of their content to mobile (at least, all the good stuff) and how they should think about changing their editorial process and content management workflow to support that.

When do we get to read it?

It goes on sale October 30.

What is your talk at FOWD NY going to be about?

My FOWD talk is called "Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content," and it's the talk that formed the genesis of the book. In the talk, I give case studies of how traditional publishers are dealing with the challenges and opportunities inherent in multi-channel publishing, and discuss how their challenges presage the changes that most other organizations will feel over the next few years. Then, I outline my approach to what I call "Adaptive Content"— an approach that encourages content creators to develop structured, presentation-independent content.

How is content strategy changing, and how can designers, developers and strategists keep pace?

I really believe that mobile is a catalyst that will change the way we create, manage, and maintain content. We're not going to be able to focus only on the final design and presentation of the content—we will have to improve our internal processes and content management systems in order to support it. Mobile is a daunting challenge, I don't deny it! But it's also a huge opportunity—maybe the best we'll see in our careers—to sweep away outdated content, outmoded processes, and unusable CMS tools. Everyone who's involved with creating and publishing content, even people who are more focused on design and development, will benefit from working with adaptive content.

Are there any other speakers at FOWD New York you're excited to see?

I am! I just saw Chris Coyier speak at Breaking Development in Dallas, and he was a kick-ass speaker—not to be missed. Lis Hubert is doing both a talk and a workshop—she was a "Rising Star" last time around, this time she's just a Superstar. And I wouldn't miss Edward Boatman of the Noun Project—such a fantastic organization and resource for designers. People can see his session talk, and I think they might even still be able to get into his full-day workshop on icon design.

Name: Karen McGrane
Title: Managing Director, Bond Art + Science
Talk Title: Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content
Where: Future of Web Design, New York
When: October 22-24, 2012  

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