DrupalCon Content and Marketing Track Highlights Symbiotic Nature of Content and Technology

path to city of Oz

For years, I’ve sometimes felt like a content nomad in this digital world, preaching a message of the importance of content as the foundation of all digital experiences -- a message based around delivering the right message to the right people in the way that best suits them.

Like a modern-day Bedouin (although my colour preference leans towards purple rather than blue), I’ve left behind those wandering ways, have settled in one area and found a place, at Digital Echidna, where a commitment to content has been integral to our work. We’ve recently doubled down on that commitment with our UX specialization and integration of that certification throughout our staff.

And now, like a digital oasis, I’m finally finding a place for me at DrupalCon NA! This year will be my first time at the annual event and I’m excited to be attending the first ever Content and Digital Marketing track.

I will also be spending some time on the tradeshow floor, ready to talk shop about content strategy and UX. If you are going and want to meet, find me - or any one of the 28 fellow echidnae also attending the conference - at Digital Echidna's booth, no. 708.

Back in the early days of my career, I worked for a company that naively thought we could “catalogue” the Internet. Yes, at LookSmart, someone thought having humans individually review and curate search listings was a sustainable business model. And, honestly, it was tough. As team lead, I frequently had to help my staff uncover new ways to find content. At the time, finding 50 websites for restaurants was a challenge (unless you found one of those sweet webrings, sometimes housed at the bottom of a Geocities site).

Today you can likely find 50 restaurant websites just within your neighbourhood. The Internet has changed, our needs have changed, and content matters more than ever before, which is why I’m thrilled that DrupalCon is dedicating an entire track to content and marketing.

Back in the early days (think, mid to late 90s), we could wander the digital desert, desperately trying to find a drip of relevant information. Today, information comes at us like we’re taking a drink from a firehose. So the challenge today isn’t getting information to the desired user -- it’s making it stand out from the crowd. And the best way is to align that content with your users’ needs.

Some of my first blog posts with Digital Echidna, back in November 2012, were in a series I called Digital U for a Digital You. It was a five-part series that offered advice on how to identify your customers and their needs; how to establish your brand identity; how to set online goals; how to understand where your limits should lie; and how to use your knowledge to chart a path towards growth.

Those ideals remain true today. The foundational elements haven’t changed, but the tactics that we use to reach those goals have been refined and adapted. The message is still foundational, but the medium changes -- mobile use and smart devices have forced us to rethink how content is presented. And that’s one of the things I love most about my job: while the need to learn, grow, and refine our practices is constant, the foundational elements -- honesty, relevancy, and providing users value -- have remained constant since before I got into this business (and will last for generations after I’m gone).

The inclusion of a Content and Marketing-focused track for DrupalCon is extremely important. A CMS is nothing without its content; but content has no impact if it can’t be successfully delivered. You can have the best message in the world, but it means nothing if it’s not reaching the desired audience. Conversely, your website can be slick as all get out, but if the content doesn’t align with the end user’s needs, then none of it matters.

Content and technology are symbiotic in nature. Understanding how to maximize the impact of both can have exponentially positive benefits for your organization. I’m excited to be a part of this track at DrupalCon and I look forward to the future growth and integration of this message.

Content matters -- both in creation and delivery. And appreciating that will lead to greater services, products, and systems that ultimately will benefit the end user.

You know… delivering the right message to the right person, in the way that best suits them.

See you in Seattle next week.

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