The Internet has changed the relationship of audiences to the information that communications professionals want them to consume. Back in the days before Google and hyperlinks and smartphones with high-end video capability, when cost was a real barrier to producing and distributing media and when “space available” in media outlets was limited, communicators had to carefully measure the words they chose to educate and persuade their audiences. Avoid jargon, simplify difficult concepts, be brief, and eliminate vocabulary beyond a middle school reading level – these were and still are the tenets of public communication, evolved for the era of the trifold brochure or single page fact sheet and audiences that lacked the speed and convenience of tools that could answer their questions on demand.
It’s long past time to let all that go and leverage the boundless Internet to reach audiences who are regularly seeking new information on whatever topic motivates their search. “Dumbing down” content to fit “space available” is unnecessary and is no longer (if it ever was) the way to get your message across for an increasingly savvy Internet generation. Whether they are looking for product reviews, information about a medical test, or background on a political issue, today’s information consumers are more demanding of the information they find and will click until they’ve satisfied their curiosity.
The power of the hyperlink and smart content design can allow targeted audiences to pick their own pathway through the information that they are looking for. Done well, smart content design leads to a more satisfying user experience (UX) and is the cornerstone of effective UX both online and offline. It allows different audience segments to peel away layers of information to the level of detail that suits them, giving them the control to gain the knowledge they want while also steadily providing them the language they will need to more intelligently converse on the subject matter in other environs.
To update an old proverb, “Show a person a concept, and you teach them to see what you want them to see. Allow a person to discover and connect concepts and give him or her the language to discuss them, and you teach that person to think about what you’ve shown them.”
Ok, maybe it’s not as eloquent as the original, but you get the idea. In the Internet Age, making content smarter is essential for an audience that is actively seeking to be smarter.