Designing for Change

Mitch Joel wants people to "Design A Better Website" but is it more important to design content for change?

By Jay Stephen Gilmore
May 15, 2013
Designing for Change

Mitch Joel wants marketers (and everyone else who cares about content) to think about designing a better website. In his latest post (also at Huffington Post) he explores how publishing and media companies are starting to find their feet on the web that's digital first and moving away from the boundaries of the old ways.

It's easy to forget as people who work on the web all day, despite all the progress of the 20 years of the world wide web, that we're still muddling and bashing around to figure out how to make the web and all it's facets, it's own distinct thing with it's own conventions that aren't transplanted directly from other formats and media. Media companies, like Fast Company, The New York Times and Reuters, as Joel describes, are starting to come away from the mold. They are working and create web experiences that enhance the user's experience with the content and, more importantly, embrace the reality that how we consume and interact with content and media has changed drastically and will continue to do so indefinitely.

In his article, Joel mentions Fast Company's experience in relaunching their site recently—though I suspect he read this article about shifting toward long-form, or as they put it, "slow-live blogging." Coincidentally, I read this article the previous evening after seeing it in a Tweet from Karen McGrane (Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content) in which she noted the CMS was a limiting factor in the ability for FastCo to adapt to change.

This idea of being adaptable to change is nothing new to MODXers but the tools many organizations choose is done so to satisfy an immediate need without considering how those needs will change over time. Will it be easy or even possible to change with the existing tool? How hard or expensive will it be when things change?

Jon Marks' bold set of suggestions on how to avoid the pitfalls of CMS selection applies whether you're a small or large organization. He boils it all down in his final sentence as follows:

So it is as simple as that. Read your Darwin again. Change happens. And it will keep happening at an ever increasing rate. Pick something that can change with it. Make portable content and portable technical assets. Don’t make monoliths. —Jon Marks

So to circle back to Joel's article title "Designing A Better Website," instead of designing a better website (yes, there may be a website (whatever that is) in the mix) lets design our systems, content structures and experiences with change at the center.

What do you think? Are you just building websites, or something more future proof. Using MODX in the first place helps but what strategies and tactics are you using with your clients to ensure the will be ready for what comes next?