3 Hidden Benefits of Building Modular Content

Lately, the publishing community has been abuzz with the idea of “modular” content. But what does that actually mean?

David Wilcockson explains modular content as a way to rethink the book product. Instead of creating content for a single product, modular content allows for many pieces of content to be rearranged, reoriented, and regrouped to create many products. Effectively, this allows publishers to iterate and improve upon their content faster—testing ideas, updating content products, and editing outdated information, without months and months of development.  

But, there are benefits to modularity beyond more efficient production and a more iterative approach. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the ways that modular content could increase audience engagement and retention.

1. Searchability
In academic and professional spaces, readers aren’t looking to read content cover to cover; they want to be able to find the information most pertinent to them as quickly as possible. Tagged modular content, or content that has been marked in HTML with “tags,” can be searched and updated wherever it lives. Readers can find the content they want without leaving the publisher’s site, providing them with a consistent reading experience that reflects the style and brand of the publisher.

2. Credibility
Inherent to easily-referenced content is the need for that content to be as up-to-date as possible. Modular content allows editors and content managers to push updates directly where they need to be, without jumping through hoops. And readers can be confident that the travel tips they’re reading are from the most recent edition of the guide, and not last year’s.

3. Availability
Perhaps most significantly, modular content has the potential to connect publishers more closely than ever with their readers. In a previous post, we talked about how publishers can build direct-to-consumer sales channels, even amidst Amazon’s ever rising tide. By “chunking” content, publishers can build multiple products out of one core piece of content, and attract readers to their site in multiple ways.

For example, Elsevier uses Inkling to distribute hundreds of their medical textbooks and educational resources. Now, using tagged modular content, they’re building a search feature that allows students to search across their entire database of textbook content for particular subjects.   

Taking the First Step

As content producers continue to discover the full potential of modular content, the first step is ensuring that your content is tagged and structured. Think of your content as rearrangeable blocks that make up a complete pattern—if you want to create a new pattern, it’s important to start with a collection of content blocks. With tagged and structured content, you’ll have an organized backlog of all of your content, which you can recycle again and again.

To learn more about creating HTML5-based structured content, watch our webinar featuring McGraw-Hill, one of the world’s leading publishers.