“We should do a video.” “We need more photos with this article.” “The site is sparse; we should add a few more pages.” How many times have we heard such suggestions? Well-meaning, surely, but not necessarily in the best interest of our goals or our users’ needs. If you think about it, it’s kind of like saying, “We need more hamburgers” without considering whether our audience is hungry or thirsty, let alone whether or not they’re vegetarian.
But Richard Thompson says enough’s enough. In a recent post, he outlined how he is reframing his approach to content in terms of purpose, not format. It makes sense. Once you divorce purpose from format, you are forced to focus more on the “why” and not the “what,” which can help elicit a more thoughtful solution. By not getting hung up on content types, we can pay attention to what the content is supposed to accomplish, then find the best medium to do the job.
By defaulting to formats too early in the creative process I think we straightjacket content. I also think that we underestimate and pigeonhole the audience, assuming that certain kinds of audiences want/will only accept certain content in certain formats.
Source: Letting go of formats by Richard Thompson, Richtext, May 9, 2011