Understanding and utilizing adaptive content modeling

The Astoria Portal operates in a world of web architecture that has become increasing democratic, making common knowledge of previously arcane terminology and concepts.

The Astoria Portal operates in a world of web architecture that has become increasing democratic, making common knowledge of previously arcane terminology and concepts.

The Astoria Portal gives end-users the ability to interact with content managed by the Astoria Content Management System.  The Astoria Portal is a web site customized to match the client's expectations for user experience.  Not long ago, discussions about site design and user experience would involve arcane terminology and technical jargon.  Today, the world of web architecture has become increasing democratic, so that discussions about Astoria Portal use terms and concepts that are increasingly common knowledge. With the increased emphasis on user friendly web interfaces, the average consumer may have a solid grasp on the concept of "responsive design." Yet adaptive web design – and its sibling, adaptive content – remains a relatively unknown aspect of new technology.

In truth, adaptive design is one of the most important drivers of innovation within the world of content management. Rather than simply offering the ability to flip between mobile and desktop optimization, adaptive design allows for content to be reconfigured at will, taking the burden off designers as the focus shifts to more impactful content.

"Adaptive content is completely flexible on the back end."

What's the difference between responsive and adaptive?

While there is overlap between the concepts of responsive and adaptive design, "responsive" suggests design that fluctuates between a fixed number of outcomes and focus on fluid grids and scaling. With adaptive design, the possibilities are virtually limitless. This is enabled by a fundamentally modular approach to content and data, allowing for a completely device-agnostic content model.

"[Web site] CMS tools have largely been built on a page model, not on data types," Aaron Gustafson, coiner of the phrase "adaptive web design," told CMSWire. "We need to be thinking more modularly about content. We need to design properties of content types rather than how it's designed."

Embracing omnichannel 
What does this mean? Adaptive content is completely flexible on the back end, with a solid model able to publish across an infinite number of channels – a highly desirable ability. This is because most enterprises are fundamentally operating in an omnichannel world already, with the final hurdle being effective personalization. And what's the end-game of adaptive? SES Magazine recently found that eCommerce sites featuring personalized content were able to increase conversion by up to 70 percent

With responsive design, some content may be reconfigured in response to the device it is viewed on, but in general the content is static. Adaptive design allows for new levels of personalization, with machine learning giving an enterprise the ability to analyze a user's habits and taste and present customized, on-demand content matching their preferences. The key isn't just content that looks different – it's content that is different, depending on the device and the viewer. This is a valuable capability since device usage itself implies different behavioral patterns. 

"The key isn't just content that LOOKS different – it's content that IS different."

A 'multi-year journey'
The issue for many enterprises in embracing adaptive content, of course, is implementation. Not all portal systems driven by an XML content management system can easily convert from a static content management system to a dynamic one.

"For many organizations, especially those in business-to-business or those with large, complex or regulated content sets, implementation will be a multi-year journey, with many iterations and evolutions along the way," wrote Noz Urbina in Content Marketing Institute. "Organizations struggle to transform themselves to keep pace with communications options and customer demand. Delivering major changes in two years might mean having gotten started two years ago."

The major push of conversation is the ability to create data hierarchies that can exist independent from the eventual design functions. Rather than creating content with the end in mind, this requires strong hypertext conversion and structuring, as well as the integration of analytics and content building apps. Yet in committing to this conversion, the possibilities of how content is presented and its effectiveness could be limitless.

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