Designing with Content
This module explores the importance of considering content – in all its forms – as a core element of any piece of interaction design that can, itself, be designed. As content strategist Karen McGrane puts it: “Well-structured content is the backbone and starting point of all successful web designs and user interactions.” Through an emphasis on developing strategic approaches to content and its generation, students are introduced to additional possible career pathways, including that of the content strategist.
As designers on the web we are tasked with managing and manipulating content. This module gives the student a thorough understanding of how to structure and manage content in both a theoretical and practical sense.
We introduce students to a variety of sources of content, including: self generated content; client-supplied content; user generated content; and content dynamically retrieved from external sources (OpenWeatherMap, Google Maps, YouTube, Twitter…) via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
Students undertake a series of exercises, which include: identifying content types and taxonomies; designing content systems; considering future, as yet unimagined content delivery platforms; learning the principles of programming; and exploring Content Management Systems (CMS).
In short, the module prepares the student for the contemporary challenges facing interaction designers working in a brave new world of content in all its manifest forms.
The essential aims of this module are:
- To introduce students to the idea that content can be derived from a range of sources, ranging from the controlled (e.g. copywritten) to the uncontrolled (e.g. user generated).
- To gain an awareness and understanding of content strategy as a discipline.
- To enable students to design and structure a given set of content into a coherent system.
- To investigate concepts relating to structured data.
- To become familiarised with basic concepts of database design.
- To begin to work with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
- To build a working example of how content is stored, retrieved, and edited on the web.
This module focuses on equipping students with an understanding of how content can be shaped as a core part of the design process. Students are supported through a weekly lecture programme, coupled with practical exercises, that are designed to broaden their knowledge and understanding of what content is, where it might come from, and how it might be designed.
Through a series of practical exercises, students are taken on a content journey, from creation, through shaping it, to giving it form. Lectures are complemented by supporting seminars and practical sessions where students gain experience with the necessary tools and skills to firstly create original content, before giving it structure, drawing relationships between different content types, before, finally, shaping it and giving it form.
Indicative lecture content includes:
- What is content and why is it important?
- Who makes content? Who is responsible for content generation? (Equally, who is to blame when content isn’t delivered?)
- A Content Out Approach
- Structuring Data - An Introduction to Taxonomies and Systems
- Chunking and Adaptive Content
- Delivering for Unknown Future Delivery Platforms
- Introductory Programming - Manipulating Data
- An Introduction to APIs
- Installing a Content Management System (CMS)
- Putting it all Together
- Kissane, E., 2011. The Elements of Content Strategy New York: A Book Apart.
- Murphy, C. and Persson, N., 2013. The Craft of Words: Part One - Macrocopy. Penarth: Five Simple Steps.
- Murphy, C. and Persson, N., 2013. The Craft of Words: Part Two - Microcopy. Penarth: Five Simple Steps.
- McGrane, K., 2012. Content Strategy for Mobile New York: A Book Apart.
- Powers, D., 2010. PHP Solutions: Dynamic Web Design Made Easy . Berkeley: friends of ED.
- Code: IXD301
- Year: 2
- Semester: 1
- Credits: 40
- Delivery: Lectures, Seminars, Workshops and Self-Directed Study
- Co-requisites: Creative Entrepreneurship
- GitHub Repo