Making On-Demand Into In-Demand


Having a collection of already-prepared content is better than not having one, as long as it can actually be used effectively “on demand”.

But what does “effectively” mean?

Wherever there is an audience for the ideas held in the content, that audience represents demand. Further, the style of the content’s presentation of ideas may be a matter of strong preferences. Together, the presentation and the particular ideas are criteria that an audience will use to decide whether content is well-suited for their purpose. This in turn makes easy access to that content the next most important issue.

What is worth noting, especially, is that a collection that does not provide easy access will frustrate demand for its good content and make the entire collection less “in demand”.

By analogy, making your best content available to users is like opening a new store or offering a place to stay to a guest. You have to organize your content so that users, especially new or infrequent ones, can quickly feel at home. You are the host, and you help your guest navigate the place to make it most comfortable and worthwhile.

We know from experience that the same content may be available in multiple places, but that users plan to look for things by first looking in their favorite place and, once there, then looking for the specific content.

We also know that in a digitized world, the “place” people so often prefer is a particular search engine. But is that really enough?

The answer, usually, is this: a search engine is most helpful when you don’t know or don’t care where the content resides.

That doesn’t mean that search is ineffective when the user already prefers a certain repository. But search does not improve the quality of your collection.

Instead, the more important aspect of organizing your content is to use a method that raises the quality of your collection by using the suitability of the content as the key to where it will go in the collection. The same method can improve the collection both retroactively and as additional content is collected. For most collections, a catalog is the answer. In fact, a single collection can have multiple different catalogs tailored for different kinds of users or situations. Showing the catalog supports or even increases the demand that users have for the collection.