Sparks from a sparkler

Content Trends for 2014

It’s hard to believe that 2013 is almost over. As is traditional this time of year, pundits start releasing their “Year in Review” articles and start telling you the content trends in 2014 to pay attention to.  Don’t worry, I am not a “talking head” but do want to share with you some of the trends I think will impact our industry from resources I’ve been following throughout the year, including my colleagues. (This is the CliffsNotes version of what to expect in 2014 for those who did not grow up in the Wikipedia generation).

Mobile Web

Let’s start with the most obvious trend, mobile. Clearly, we must be serving content on all mobile platforms to effectively meet the demands of web users today. Responsive web design should be the standard – really, the bare minimum – that all companies should be supporting to accommodate the multiple mobile devices that continue to swamp the market. For more insights into Mobile Web Development, check out Thomas Higginbotham’s recent blog post.

Content – Less is More

Fundamentally, content will still be king or queen (depending upon your gender) but must continue to be in delivered in multiple formats: blogs, white papers, case studies, articles, webinars, and events.  or a quick checklist for 2014 content planning, check out Steve Walker’s End-of-Year Planning from a Content Perspective.

I believe that less will become more when it comes to content in 2014.  Think about it: We now want details as quickly as possible and statistics show that we increasingly want that data on a mobile device. As such, content authors need to get to the point as quickly as possible or risk losing the audience before the bottom of the scrolling window.  Furthermore, Google will start emphasizing context over content. Page rank is now less about keywords and more about context. Also, content curation, or what could be called RSS 3.0, will rise in 2014 with the use of mobile devices. The short story is that everyone reading this can add a new “Skills & Expertise” to their LinkedIn profiles because users will become curators of data and information based on your individual needs. Mobile applications such as Flipboard and Curator (yes, sometimes the best ideas are really that simple) will allow you to arrange content according to your interests.

My last thought on content is based on an old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I agree with Jayson Demers that “visual content will increasingly become a critical piece of any solid content strategy.” More than 90 percent of web users are looking for content on mobile device, so an engaging photo is more likely to capture someone’s attention and compel them to want to read more.

Translation

Translation, the first cousin of content, doesn’t get much love on websites. Times have changed and we clearly live in a global market where the exchange of ideas and content happens in real time. Yet, I find more and more websites increasingly ignoring the need to display content in multiple languages, thus decreasing the user experience.

Fundamentally, technology, like machine translation (MT), has simplified this process but, at its core, MT should not replace human translators. A quick search of “translation” in the iTunes store shows more than 100 applications based on translation, with dictionaries and other tools. Thankfully, SkyNet did not become self-aware like in the Terminator movies and the machines are not in control.

If you are interested in how to get started with globalization, please check out Steve Walker’s Ten Steps to Smart Globalization Projects – Part 1  and Ten Steps to Smart Globalization Projects – Part 2.

Search

Finally, search and where search is used will be key in 2014. As mobile devices like smartphones and tablets continue to take over and free Wi-Fi is offered increasingly at public locations, there will be an increase in voice-activated searches from mobile devices and the need for long-tail  keywords.

If you aren’t familiar with long-tail search, there is a good article by Brian Gardner that I encourage you to read. As Brian outlines, long-tail search refers to search terms that contain three or more words. This leads to more quality traffic for your website, especially when Google-suggested terms/search don’t show up using voice commands.

On this, the final Friday the 13th of 2013, I look forward to the upcoming holidays where we all get a chance to reflect on the success (or failures) of 2013 and recharge our batteries for 2014. So, to put a nice bow on it, I recommend that decision makers in IT, marketing, or management take time in early January to determine how these four trends – mobile web, content, translation, and search – will impact your organization’s business goals in 2014.