Adapting Intelligent Content

Once you implement intelligent content and establish the delivery of a consistent experience across multiple channels, you might start thinking about something even more advanced.

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Ondrej SirockaPublished on Feb 28, 2018

In my previous blog post, I talked about intelligent content and what it means, why it matters, and how to build it. Today, I would like to show you how you can take your content to a whole new level by complementing it with an adaptive element.

What if you could treat your visitors separately? What if you could create multiple content variants and utilize them based on a visitor’s context and preferences? It definitely sounds tempting, but the question is: How can I do that? What factors are relevant for content consumption and should be taken into consideration when tailoring the content?

To answer these questions, we can take a look at the definition of adaptive content, which is basically an extension of intelligent content. In terms of adaptive content, we tend to define three categories of elements or factors that you might want to be aware of.

Three Factors of Adaptive Content

The first one is Device, which means you might want to tailor your content to specific channels or platforms like a mobile app, website or even a refrigerator in a tech-savvy household. Or you might want to alter the content to a particular operating system or even the capabilities of a device.

A second way of tailoring information is directly to the Person themselves. This can be done using data processing of the user’s tracked behavior or personal information provided during registration like age or gender, and so on. And based on this, you can tailor the experience for every visitor separately.

And finally, you can target your content based on Context. And by context, we mean determining the user’s current environment such as time, location, or velocity, based on the sensors of the user’s device. Definition is literally limited only to the data obtained from the device itself; don’t confuse it with situations where a user intentionally provides you with this kind of information as an input.

In short, when we talk about adaptive content, we can think about it as a combination of omnichannel delivery, personalization, and contextualization. And just to be specific, omnichannel in this context means a unified user experience across multiple channels or, said from a different perspective, content management for multiple platforms from one place. So it’s something superior to another popular term, multichannel, and shouldn’t be interchanged with it.

Adaptive ≠ Responsive

After hearing the definition above, people very often tend to start thinking about responsive content, which is a very common misunderstanding. You can deliver responsive content to multiple types of devices, and you can probably personalize it too. So what’s the difference?

As you can see in the picture, the main contrast is in the delivery. While with responsive content you are trying to fit one content version to all channels, with adaptive content, you are managing and providing multiple variations of the same content based on the targeted platform. And thanks to this, you are able to support not only the website channel, which applies to the responsive content, but also anything else like VR glasses, mobile apps, Alexa or Google Home Echo platforms, and so on. If you’d like to find out more on this topic, we have explained this principle of reusability in our article about intelligent content.

We know that responsive is currently the most common approach and companies today usually have some kind of responsive website, so does it mean they have to throw it all away and create everything again from scratch in the adaptive way? Not necessarily. We can’t actually say that adaptive is better than responsive or vice versa as these two approaches can, in fact, work together and be mutually beneficial.

Today, you have so many variations of output screen resolutions your content might appear on, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to go adaptive at all costs and design a separate content strategy and website layout for every single one of them. That would be a nightmare!

Instead of that, it’s a much better idea to start with adaptive content and create a responsive website on top of one version of that content. Moreover, since you have all the content stored in the adaptive (or intelligent) way, which means it’s suitable for omnichannel delivery, you are already set to distribute it to other channels too. So as you can see, adaptive and responsive approaches can cooperate together and create a very effective combination for your multi-platform experience.

How to Build Adaptive Content?

We already know how to implement intelligent content, which basically covers the omnichannel part of adaptive. Most headless CMSs are specifically designed for building intelligent content, which means you can do structured content by defining your own content types, their elements, metadata, relationships, and so on. Thanks to that and the support of a modular approach, your content will be reusable and presentation independent.

How about the other parts, i.e., context and personalization? The majority of those CMSs let you integrate with a third-party service or your implementation to take care of those. I wouldn’t say it’s wrong, because most headless CMSs are tailored to be integrated with other platforms and live in a world of microservices.

However, you should know that there is an alternative way, and that’s Kentico Cloud. Because Kentico Cloud is the only headless CMS on the market that allows you to perform real-time personalization without integrating any other tool, it’s included out of the box. You can find out more about this feature on our website and we are going to provide a showcase on our blog very soon. It will cover real omnichannel personalization scenarios across multiple platforms such as Alexa, a mobile app, or an in-store kiosk, including implementation and content modeling details. Stay tuned!

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Ondrej Sirocka