In a recent board meeting, I was asked by a Trustee, “Is there any item that has been discussed today that can’t be delivered due to technology?” After some thought, my answer was an emphatic, “No!” Of course, I qualified my answer with, “We can develop all of these ideas and increase the ‘Wow’ of each of these projects exponentially. However, none of the delivery mechanisms (technology) will mean anything without content!”
I’ve seen a number projects utilizing incredible technology delivery methods fall flat – they do not meet the expectations of the creators. More often than not, it’s not actually the technology that has failed. It’s the fact that an immense amount of effort was put into the technology without an at least equal amount of effort being put into developing the content to be delivered by the technology that constitutes a failure.
What makes a website successful? What makes a good exhibit? What makes electronic signage effective? The content. If users of a website don’t find the content they are looking for, the bells and whistles will not be enough to keep them on your site and, more importantly, keep them coming back. The learning experience of the exhibit is why the majority of visitors show up to see your exhibit – not the delivery mechanism. People stop to read electronic signage to receive your message (aka get information) not because it has flashy lights. Sure, the sizzle and pop of these delivery mechanisms grab their attention and get them to stop, but what keeps them there? What makes it worth their while to stop? The content!
When working with clients (internal or external), I stress this – “Content is King!” If a client is asking for a particular technology, I immediately ask, “What results are you hoping to get? What do you want your viewers/customers to walk away with?” Make sure the content is well thought out.
Just as important, make sure there is a Content Development Plan in place. A lot of projects come out of the gate with awesome content but lose steam as time passes. A consistent and deliverable content plan is a must. This plan should have a timeline, a responsibility matrix, a budget, etc. Developing content is not easy – it takes a plan, dedication and resources.
The combination of solid content and good implementation of technology can do wonders for any type of business or project. One without the other will likely fail and not give your clients the results they are expecting. Technology is often blamed for the failure of projects (sometimes justifiably so), but don’t let your technology take the rap for a lack of content.
Technology is only the knight in the fight for our visitors. Content is King.
Paul Parrie is the Associate Vice President of Technology at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, LA. Paul has over 25 years experience in Broadcast Media, Information Technology, and Media Creation.