The content manifesto

Ten principles that can bring about better, more strategic content. And change the world.

We are at a unique juncture of digital technology and socio-economic change.

There is a huge opportunity for organisations of all shapes and sizes to move away from a transactional model, to form meaningful connections with people and to make a contribution to improving the planet.

This is also an opportunity to have better, more efficient, more effective, more satisfying businesses, which people believe in and want to work for.

We believe that content sits at the heart of that opportunity.

1.

Content comes first.

We believe that websites, apps and systems should be built around content, rather than content created to fill boxes. That means that we are neither technology-first, nor channel-first, nor visual design-first.

We believe that words and pictures are the vital touchpoint; the embodiment of the relationship between organisations and people.

By starting with the content and building out, design and technology will be more appropriate, people will work together more harmoniously, and the outcomes will be better for people and for the organisation.

2.

From transactions to connections.

We believe that the world is moving from a broadcast to a conversational paradigm, that it is the century of the citizen. Content is at the nub of this shift to a less top-down, less hierarchical world.

We believe in moving beyond thinking about users to thinking about communities and partners, and beyond thinking about content as marketing.

Customers, supporters and users will increasingly choose to form relationships with organisations that go beyond the transactional, who strive to create advocates not parrots. Those that don’t will be left behind.

3.

Content can change the world.

We believe that content can help create a better planet. That all organisations should have genuine planetary and humanitarian concerns. We believe that everyone has sociological, political and ecological responsibilities and that organisations have an opportunity to make the web and the world a better place through their content.

Organisations of all sorts are in a great position to improve the state of the planet and the people who live on it. By doing so they also improve themselves.

4.

Staff are also humans.

We believe that being user-centric means considering internal users as well as external users and that their wellbeing is crucial. We believe that the internal user experience is as important as the external one. We believe in investing in systems, interfaces and environments for content creation and maintenance.

Happy staff make for effective organisations.

5.

Content is a garden.

We believe that content has a life cycle and should be nurtured, from digital cradle to digital grave. We believe that caring for content is as important as creating it. We believe that maintenance systems and ways of thinking need to change in order for content sustainability to happen.

Tending the garden results in better quality fruit and a tastier, more nutritious user experience.

6.

Consistency counts.

We believe that editorial standards matter. That having a style guide, and sticking to it, is vital. We will abandon our pacifist beliefs to stand up and fight for semicolons, for en-dashes and for lowercase job titles.

Consistency creates firm ground for people to stand on.

7.

Accessibility is for everyone.

We believe in content that is usable, transparent, understandable and natively digital. Content that is inclusive and open to people of all shapes, colours and sizes. We admire honesty and humility. We decry bombast and obfuscation; we abhor jargon and acronyms.

Explaining complexity in simple ways is a sign of intelligence. Doing so openly and transparently is a sign of humanity.

8.

Content is everywhere.

We believe that content is everywhere, from blog posts to button text to videos to privacy statements. We believe in integrated, adaptable content. Siloed press releases and PDF research reports are outdated concepts whose day has passed.

Taking a wide, holistic view of what content is opens up a more satisfying, unified, effective user experience.

9.

Beauty matters.

We believe that aesthetics matter, that elegant typography is vital, that images are not decoration. We believe that beauty and usability and accessibility are perfect bedfellows. We believe in ergonomics and craft, that content is design is UX.

Customers and users will become advocates, fans and activists for organisations and for causes if content is beautiful.

10.

Content is worth doing properly.

We believe in properly resourcing content for everyone’s health and happiness. We believe that good content isn’t cheap, and that good content people are worth their weight in platinum.

Too much content is suffocating, for users, creators and maintainers. Time invested in quality content will reap great rewards.

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