just wrapped up their annual ASI conference
and this year they used a site 3DN built for them to manage the conference sessions, program, speakers and sponsors.
One of the speakers at the conference, the CEO of AIST, Eva Scheerlinck, was participating in three separate sessions:
- The opening address
- A special interest session on Remuneration
- An update from ASIC as it relates to superannuation
On the surface, this all sounds pretty easy to manage in terms of content on the website. However, it quickly gets complicated when you realise that you have to manage the same information over and over
For example, Eva's name, organisation and title need to be shown on three separate sessions
. To complicate things a little more AIST also wanted to show a list of all the presenters at the conference independent of the sessions they were speaking at, so in fact, Eva's details are now in four places.
And to further complicate it every time this speaker's information appeared it had to be alongside a headshot and a biography. Oh, and the list of speakers had to be alphabetised too!
If you've ever organised a conference, you know that organising the sessions and speakers and timing takes months and hundreds of hours of effort
Speaker availability changes, sessions conflict with one another, information is supplied in dribs and drabs rather than full and complete. You're constantly going back and updating small pieces of information and the knock-on effect is hard to manage.
If a speaker provides you with a Bio and then two weeks later provides an updated bio then you have to update that bio where-ever it's used.
The idea of re-usable content is the solution and in most content management systems you'd implement that using structured content
you build a page type that has the specific pieces of information you need about a speaker. Each piece of information becomes a field you can then re-use somewhere else on the site. So the speaker's firstname is a field, and lastname, and headshot and bio.
you'd build a custom post type using a plugin like Toolset (or a bunch of others). The same concept applies though in that each piece of information about the speaker becomes a field that you populate.
So how does structured content actually fix the problem?
In this case, Eva's bio is only stored once in the content management system and then everywhere it's needed the content management system is retrieving it and putting it on the page (rather than you having to copy/paste the bio to three different sessions).
Or if you need a list of speakers sorted alphabetically then you get the content management system to retrieve all of the speakers and sort by last name.
It also opens up many other capabilities, for example you can now create a page for each speaker and show the sessions that speaker is speaking at too.
Here's Eva's speaker page showing her name, bio, headshot and the three sessions:
And the same information again on a popup window when looking at the session on the program:
And again on the alphabetised list of speakers:
The biggest take-away from this approach is that the information is all managed in one place, only once. So if Eva's bio needs to change then that change is made only once and the update is seen across the entire website.