Karen McGrane makes the web suck less

Sara Doltz

With a mission to make the web more awesome Karen McGrane is coming to Sweden. Get her insights on the buzz around adaptive content, the open web and her concerns about closed networks.

I’ve recently started following you on Twitter and your bio reads: “On a good day, I make the web more awesome. On a bad day, I just make it suck less”. What is significant for truly awesome sites?
– Well, there are so many good sites. I love sites that serve a utility and have a function that supports my day-to-day work. I’m actually sitting with Slack right in front of me, which I love.

– I’m a strong advocate for the open web, truly stable and sustainable platforms that are accessible regardless of the device and from where you access them. This will become even more important in the future when low-cost smartphones will be more accessible to people in emerging markets. We are talking about billions of people that will never own a desktop computer but very soon will own and use a smartphone.

Can you also give me an example of something you don’t like?
– Increasingly closed and proprietary networks trouble me. For example, Facebook is moving forward with subsidized phones in emerging markets. I’ve got nothing against Facebook as a company, I have many friends who work there, but I am concerned that many people may think Facebook is the web.

Your book, Content Strategy for Mobile, came out in November 2012. So more then two years have passed since it was first published, what has happened since then?
– The last couple of year’s adaptive content has become kind of a buzzword. On the positive side it has gotten a lot of attention in media and everybody is enthusiastic about it. But on the negative side, adaptive content is almost used as a synonym for “magic”: Just add adaptive content and everything will be exactly what the user wants. That annoys me; it’s not a buzzword. It’s an approach to how you think about the technology and the process. Organisations have to work on that and embrace a new way of publishing structured content.

Are you working on a new book?
– Yes, I am. It’s called “Going Responsive” and has a broader business and operational focus on implementing a responsive design so that content and the design are aligned. A responsive redesign affects your processes and changes the way the team works together. I’ve written 2/3 of the book and I should be finished with my first draft before I leave for Sweden.

Karen McGrane is Managing Partner at Bond Art + Science, a UX consultancy she founded in 2006. She will be joining From Business to Buttons but will also host a workshop called A day of Responsive design with Ethan Marcotte on April 20.

(Foto: Eirik Helland Urke)

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