Coming to terms with ‘content’

Common questions from the content creator

Not so long ago, I objected to the word ‘content’ when used to describe the words and pictures that populate websites. ‘Content’ seemed degrading, a lowly term for what might be carefully-crafted copy, perfectly-composed pictures or a web-cam wizard’s captivating video.

So ‘content’ doesn’t sound amazing. It’s a bit like calling the words between the covers of Don Quixote ‘filling’, or ‘text’.

But ‘content’ is what everyone calls content. The word works.

And now ‘content’ is increasingly discussed in a smarter way. We’re not just writing some stuff because there are pages to fill; we formulate content strategies to help us think bigger about what we’re doing. We think bigger and demonstrate a bigger intention. Copy is more than copy and that’s great for the web because it means copy and content can rise to their rightful place in the world of the web.

So I’ve come round to content.


  1. So if a thin surface layer of transformative high-value content is “jam”, and superficial cosmetic gimmicks are “sprinkles”, I guess we need an English-language word that means “pie filling”. As the saying goes, everyone loves pie!

    But I can’t think of a dedicated word for pie filling. The closest I can come up with is “meat”, in the Old English sense of meaning a substantial chunk of food or source material that isn’t necessarily animal in origin (“the flesh of a peach”, “mincemeat” pies).

    “Meat”‘s not /bad/, it lends itself to all sorts of other metaphors and spin-offs (“that’s a meaty website”, “skin”, “gravy”). But too much talk of meaty goodness might make a vegetarian client queasy.

    Hmmm. Surely the Americans must have a word for the insides of a pie? I suppose that in the UK, “pies” are traditionally completely enclosed in pastry, and US pies are open-topped flans with sweet fillings, so maybe the concept of a pie having an “inside” doesn’t work in the US.

    Comment by Eric Baird — June 22, 2010 @ 11:54 am

  2. Hi Eric – not sure what the Americans call pie fillings…other than ‘filling’.

    I did spend some time thinking of a word that could displace ‘content’, but I realised it was pointless! Content is a fine word. It doesn’t sound very interesting, but it works.

    Comment by Leif Kendall — June 22, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

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