This is one of the 52 terms in The Language of Content Strategy published by XML Press in 2014 and the contributor for this term is Michael Boses.
What is it?
A form of structured content that is designed, created, and delivered as discrete components within the content whole.
Why is it important?
Enables device-independent delivery in multiple contexts, at multiple levels of detail, and with varying consumer focus. It allows the content strategist to meet today’s delivery challenges and prepare for tomorrow’s unknowns.
Why does a content strategist need to know this?
Nearly every product that we consume is now offered in more flavors, sizes, and styles than we could imagine just ten years ago. Manufacturing products this way is expensive, but successful organizations have figured out how to adapt. Content is product, and the traditional, hand-crafted development process for content is too resource intensive (creativity, intellect, and time) to be sustainable in a consumer- and technology-driven market.
By analyzing the structure and purpose of content, we can break it down into modular components that can be delivered to any device and easily modified for particular audiences or purposes. Modular content has the following common characteristics:
- Design: What does a module of content look like? One approach starts with the concept of a topic: a chunk of information organized around a single subject. A topic is large enough to be self-contained from a writer’s point of view but small enough to be delivered in a variety of contexts.
- Structure: There is no one-size-fits-all topic. You can create multiple topic types and what will define each one is its internal structure. By aligning the structure of a topic with its purpose, you can create a model for authoring and delivery that is repeatable and flexible.
- Self-description: Modular content is a vehicle that is ready to take your ideas anywhere. Metadata puts gas in the tank. Describing your modular content with metadata will enable real-time delivery based on a set of rules that you define, and change, as necessary.