Most marketing and content teams face intense pressure to produce high volumes of high quality content. The tactics and formats can span an immense range. On any given day, a team may be working on landing pages, website copy, technical documentation, videos, graphics, blog posts, and more.
A company’s success depends on this content, but producing all of it while maintaining a high level of quality and consistency is a formidable challenge.
Over the last decade, the concept of intelligent content emerged as a way to provide customers with the most relevant and personalized content, while reducing the strain that producing that content places on marketing departments and content teams.
Since its inception, intelligent content has grown from an abstract idea to an evolving suite of strategies, practices, and tools to help teams create marketing and technical content more efficiently.
In this post, I’ll provide a quick overview of intelligent content, and then show you some simple, easy steps you can take to start implementing intelligent content practices.
Intelligent Content in a Few Words
As founder of the Intelligent Content Conference, Ann Rockley has the foremost voice on intelligent content and how companies can put it into practice. Rockley explains, “Intelligent content is content that’s structurally rich and semantically categorized and therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable.” With this both specific and broad definition, Rockley offers helpful guideposts, but sets almost no boundaries. For someone new to the idea, this makes knowing where to start a little tricky.
Simply put, intelligent content practices produce more of the effective content that drives and delights customers without adding a huge burden to your content team. At its heart, intelligent content is modular, structured, reusable, format-free, and semantically rich. Rockley and Scott Abel, another pioneer in the content management field, explain what each of these mean in this excerpt from their book Intelligent Content: A Primer.
Creating truly intelligent content might sound daunting. Teams must hash out and put in place infrastructure, systems, and strategies to create, deliver, and manage content intelligently. Fortunately, you don’t have to get to full intelligent content implementation to reap the benefits. It takes just a few intelligent practices to make your life and your team’s easier.
Ways to Make Image and Video Creation More Intelligent
Create a common intro sequence for videos
Marketing, technical documentation, and customer support teams often make a lot of videos. That rings true at TechSmith where we make tutorials, one-off support videos, and product marketing videos daily.
We use a quick intro sequence on our videos that displays the video title. This simple touch helps viewers become accustomed to the rhythm of your videos and know what to expect each time they watch one. A common introduction grows trust and displays a higher level of professionalism.
Here are the intros we use for Camtasia and Snagit tutorials, side-by-side.
Notice how the intros—while not exactly the same—share a number elements and the same basic structure. Both display the product icon and name with the tutorial title below. Additionally, we use the crosshair motif in both intros and then animate it to advance the action. The Camtasia intro was made first and it inspired the look of the Snagit intro. The intro was reconfigurable, a hallmark of intelligent content.
Think about areas where you can version content to fit different purposes.
Now, to make the intros even more useful, we made them available to everyone on the team. This meant packaging and sharing the assets with the new Camtasia 2018 Library. The Library makes it easy to create reusable content packages and allows you to export and share them as a single file.
Take a look at this tutorial to learn how the new Library can help you create more intelligent content and speed up video creation.
Give SUI a try
If you haven’t yet heard the term SUI (sue-wee), you’ve at least seen the design style in the wild. SUI stands for Simplified User Interface and is a method of using shapes and graphics to approximate a particular user interface. With SUI, only the most important details are maintained in a graphic or video. Words, some buttons, and design flourishes are removed to make it easier for a viewer to interpret and remember what they are seeing.
The image below displays the actual TechSmith Camtasia 2018 interface on the left and then a SUI version we use for certain tutorials on the right. Notice how you easily recognize exactly what the SUI graphic depicts — even without most of the finer details.
Most importantly, SUI produces modular, reconfigurable, and reusable content.
We often use Adobe Illustrator to create our graphics, but TechSmith Snagit also works. Our source files remain editable, so we can always return to them if we need a new, slightly altered graphic.
Over time, we have built up a library of SUI graphics for our products, computer operating systems, and other interfaces that let us create new graphics quickly.
Traditional screenshots and screencasts can quickly become out of date as interfaces are updated. SUI increases the longevity of content because SUI graphics usually require minor tweaking, if anything at all, when interface changes happen. The time savings here can be pretty big.
Finally, SUI creates opportunities for reuse, a key aspect of intelligent content. Graphics created for tutorials are often used in marketing materials or blog posts. Over time a graphic made for one purpose will find numerous applications and save different people in different roles time, while helping them create stellar content.
For more on SUI and how to get started, check out this blog post.
Create template resources
Most brands strive for a consistent look and feel in all marketing, technical, and customer communications.
Having fonts, colors, and content structures follow the same patterns sends a powerful and important message to current and potential customers: We have our stuff together.
Intelligent content makes it easy to maintain consistency across projects. Create template materials for your content creators to use when making technical documentation, help articles, sales resources or marketing content.
Themes make it easy to follow brand guidelines. Themes are packages of colors and fonts that can be shared by colleagues. The best way to do this is to create a theme for each set of product or brand colors and the necessary font. Then, export a file that can be imported by any colleague. Check out the tutorials below to learn how to make Themes with Snagit and Camtasia.
- Snagit: https://www.techsmith.com/tutorial-snagit-quick-style-themes.html
- Camtasia: https://www.techsmith.com/tutorial-camtasia-themes.html
Intelligent content…and beyond!
Hopefully you read that last header in Buzz Lightyear’s voice. I say “and beyond” because the idea of intelligent content continues to develop and grow.
This post offers a few simple entry points to help you make content more efficiently and add a touch of intelligent content principles to your workflows. As you study the concept, you will likely discover new and powerful ways to implement the ideas and strategies into your work.