Content Before Process

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How many times have you begun to brainstorm a new creative project (or started writing a creative brief for a project) by starting with the question, “How can we use X to convey Y?”

It could be something like, “How can we use video to introduce our company?” or “How can we use a graphic to explain this data?” or “How can we use Facebook to reach out to customers?” Most projects begin this way, and on the surface it seems like a pretty reasonable question. Everyone wants to know how to use their available tools most effectively, and what better way to figure that out than to start asking these questions right away?

But let’s take a look at that statement again: “use their available tools most effectively.” What are we really looking for here? The right tool for the job. So why are we making assumptions about the right tools with our very first question? By limiting our exploration of methods at the beginning, we are potentially missing a more effective method of communication for our data or information. Or worse, we could end up shoehorning our content into a process or method that is ill-suited to the task.

So the real questions is not, “How can we use X to convey Y?” but “How can we best convey Y?” And the answer is, “Whatever tool is best for the job.” Video? Graphic? Blog entry? Newspaper article? Interpretive dance? Your content will inform your process, not the other way around.

Unfortunately, the benefits of a Content Management System like WordPress, with its pre-built content templates, image sizes, and ease of standardizing the publishing experience, can also make it very easy to fall into this same trap. Luckily for us, WordPress is also extremely extensible, so when it makes sense to share your content on the web, there is probably a great solution for that!

How do you deal with this question in your own projects?

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