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It’s time for law firms to take a “future-friendly” approach to content.

It might sound obvious, but it’s worth stating as clearly as possible: The web isn’t print. So why do so many of us still think of content in terms of pages? Using the print metaphor of a page ignores our ever-expanding multi-device and multi-platform world. On many devices, the “page” no longer exists. For digital content to be its most nimble (and most effective), it needs to be broken down into smaller components that are highly structured, separated from a fixed presentation form, and managed appropriately across platforms.

Ban the PDF.

The first step toward achieving a more user-friendly approach to publishing: stop creating PDFs as the primary (or even supplementary) mode for delivering content. PDFs perpetuate the print metaphor and entrench content in a fixed, inflexible format that is not adaptable or scalable across platforms or devices. Assume at least half of your visitors are on mobile devices, not sitting at a desktop, and remember that no one wants to deal with a PDF on a phone or tablet. This simple yet fundamental shift in the way your firm publishes content will set the stage for a successful evolution toward a flexible, more manageable content program.

Structure content assets so that they are both “future-friendly” and platform/device-agnostic.

As hard as it is to get people to read lengthy content on their desktops, it’s even tougher to engage them on their mobile devices. You need to organize your content to make it easy for your readers to engage in more effective, action-oriented ways. As Brad Frost notes, “Get your content ready to go anywhere because it is going to go everywhere.”

This is best illustrated:

content_exhibit

Less is more. Really.

Law is an inherently and historically text-based profession, and most firms have been slow to adopt other narrative formats like video and information visualization. But even without the aid of visual thinkers who can transform text into succinct graphical representations of complex concepts, legal marketers can help their readers wade through the sea of content by borrowing a key concept from academic publishing: the abstract. Creating scannable executive summary “chunks” in the form of key take-aways or bulleted lists helps readers get the gist of a long-form content piece without requiring them to digest pages and pages of text. Rather than dumbing down client alerts, newsletter articles, or white papers, these narrative techniques “smart up” the content and make it more accessible and more inviting.