Adaptive Content for a Future-Proofed World | npENGAGE

Adaptive Content for a Future-Proofed World

By on Oct 19, 2012


My last post was a quick introduction to Mobile Content Strategy. It really just skimmed the surface of adaptive, mobile-friendly content though and since then, I’ve been busy creating and delivering a whole presentation on the topic. If you missed my session at BBCON, I thought I’d share some quick highlights…

Session Description

With the multitude of web-connected devices around us and in development, it’s becoming too difficult to anticipate what screen sizes to design for. The answer to this dilemma is to start thinking differently about content. It’s no longer just text and images appearing on a web page so why are we still writing like it is? This session will explore ways to model your existing and new content so it can grow and adapt with your organization and your end-users into the unknown future.

Adaptive Content Defined

  • Content that is structured so that a single item can be displayed across a multitude of devices in a multitude of formats (i.e. desktop web page, mobile web page, mobile app, tablet web page, tablet app, etc.)
  • Not the same as Responsive Design but it is a necessary component or starting point for creating a successful Responsive Design.
The same content item from NPR appearing in iPhone browser, iPhone app, Tablet browser and Tablet app

Adaptive Content Illustrated via NPR

Why is Adaptive Content Important?

  • Content is King! It’s how you communicate all of the great work you do as a nonprofit.
  • Your constituents access your content from a variety of devices and contexts (see infographic below). They should always have a consistent and pleasant experience.
90% of people use multiple screens sequentially

Source: Google/Ipsos/Sterling, 2012

Where do we start?

  • Content Strategy: COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere)
  • Select a CMS (Content Management System) that allows you to define custom content types and fields.
  • Identify a Content Strategist who knows your content, knows your platform and can develop a future-proofed structure or model for your content.

A Future-Proofed, Adaptive Content Model

  • Web Writing for the 21st Century: Be concise and make your key point within the first 3-5 words.
  • Beware the WYSIWYG: Only use the WYSIWYG for the meat, or substance of your content. Extract any data you can into separate fields in your CMS to allow for more flexible displays.
  • Consistent Substance: Users will want to see the same substance (i.e. the same article, story, etc.) once they drill down into your content no matter what device they’re using so keep it consistent. Never truncate or show less for mobile.
  • Meta Data for All Devices: Make sure your Titles, Descriptions, Images, etc. will render well or resize for different screen sizes.

Those are the Cliff’s Notes! If you want to see the full presentation, check it out here. Please feel free to ask questions or share your own stories about adaptive content in the comments!


Lacey Kruger, principal information architect for Blackbaud, designs online properties for nonprofits that delight and inspire. Whether a full scale website, a campaign site or a peer to peer fundraising site, Lacey guides clients through a research-based and user-centered approach to design. In her 15+ years at Blackbaud, she has developed a deep understanding of nonprofit web presences. That knowledge, along with her years of experience in information design, have established her as an industry expert.

Lacey has written a Blackbaud eBook, “A Guide to the Nonprofit Web Design Process” and her article, “Designing Nonprofit Experiences: Building a UX Toolkit” was published in User Experience magazine. She has presented at industry conferences including bbcon, IA Summit and BIG Design.

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