The word “content” implies a container. It might contain the printed words and pictures that we call a book. It might contain the words and pictures and software and media that we call an app or web page or user experience. Either way, it’s a product built for a purpose. So like any product, it best serves that purpose by being two things at once.

1. A tool that does a job.

2. A user-modifiable toolkit that enables users to tweak the tool to better meet their needs. (The tweaks help the product designer how to iterate on the design.)

I’m just channeling Eric von Hippel here (, it’s a strategy that applies to all kinds of product design. In this domain I think that suggests a way to implement the strategy.