This is going to be one of those ‘when I were a lad’ style posts :)
Back when I first started doing this webby thing, in the days when even IE6 was a distant dream (well a couple of years away anyhow) and FrontPage was the (*cough*) ‘CMS’ of choice most in-house web folk found themselves either working for the IT team or, as was my case, dropped into a traditional print Publications team. Here you were dismissed as the poor relation to the important work they did and anyway the web was a fad and would soon go away :)
To be honest I was quite lucky in these early days – I was mainly left alone to do whatever I felt best, as long as it didn’t cost much (i.e. anything!) and for the most part I had management who while clueless about the web and the opportunities it offered at least had an inkling that *something* was changing.
Print was always the priority though – the culture of thinking just sticking a PDf version of the print design up on the web was OK started early and is only really now starting to be challenged. Visual Guidelines were produced where digital was an after-thought at best, Editorial Styleguides were published with little idea about writing for the web and logos were designed with no concept of how they would look in a browser. Authors and Editors were employed to ensure printed copy was professional and precise. Web copy was the domain of whoever was willing and available.
To be honest alot of this is still true in *some* organisations to *some* extent. Recent-ish annoyances for me is new logos that are created with no thought of whether they will work as ‘profile pics’ on social sites and new corporate fonts selected without checking if they are available to use via @font-face (or even work well on screen.)
The thing is, as the title says, the ‘times they are a-changing’. At least they are here in the public sector. The ConDems have implementing strict new rules on spending for Communications & Marketing and one of the big casualties has been print publications. This has strengthened the ‘digital by default’ movement (if I can call it that!) and increasingly the primary channel for just about all content is online.
This isn’t without challenges, especially given the limitations of some of the technologies people are saddled with, but it also opens up real opportunities.
I find myself having (almost) come full circle with the possibility of the in-house Publications team moving into my team with the digital agenda leading the way and print becoming a luxury add-on rather than a focus. I’ve already been asked to look at seeing if the ideas about content strategy I have been learning from Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane (and others) could help provide a content strategy across channels, whether it be the corporate website, the social web or print material (or anything else I guess).
It certainly could make things interesting and I’m not without ideas about how to make *paper* fit into my digital plans. I think that the popularity of things like Newspaper Club shows that people still appreciate something ‘real’ as well as the ongoing popularity of things like Lulu. That said I still have an interest in investigating different modes of ‘digital publishing‘ – particularly for eReaders, smartphones and Tablets. Now I just need time to actually do these things!