I recently did a training for a government organisation who is turning its massive website responsive. This is a short summary on what I believe is most important to plan for when you go responsive when it comes to handling your content, and some common misunderstandings I’ve seen around.
Making content accessible across all platforms is a democratic issue
First, I sometimes hear the opinion that going responsive is something of a “luxury upgrade” to meet the demand of mobile addicted youths. Nothing could be more wrong. Among poor countries or even poor minorities in rich countries, using the internet via smartphones is often the only way for them to access information. Why? They don’t have a computer, cannot afford internet access in the home, or simply don’t have a home. That’s why making all content accessible across all platforms is a democratic act, especially important for government agencies to consider.
Forget mobile first - think user first
Don’t fall into the trap of planning the content based on the different devices your content will be on. Think about what the user actually needs, what he/she wants to do with the content, and work from there. Here you can find great input from how your current site is used. Look at what pages and services are accessed the most, what keywords are most used in search and use this data when revising and updating your content.
Short, snappy, content is better content - for all platforms
If you have hundreds of pages of outdated, long, texts, these will be a painful experience to read on a mobile platform. And, sorry to break this to you, they are equally boring to read on desktop. That’s why you need to do a proper content spring cleaning before launching your new site.
Start with a content inventory, revise what needs to be updated and get to work. The poster child for public responsive websites, gov.uk, have some great advice on how better writing makes a better UX experience. Revising all content on a site is hard and tedious work, but incredibly important. Going responsive will not magically solve a content problem. The reward will come - you will think that you’ve made your content more palatable on mobile platforms, but the truth is that short, snappy content makes for a better experience on all platforms and cater better to more types of users.