If you are a subject-matter expert who wants to use your knowledge to benefit others, you probably have a website about the products and services that you provide. It is important that a significant part of the content that you create for your site, if not its core, is an expert framework. Not only will this framework help visitors to the site quickly gain an overall understanding of what you have to offer, it will greatly facilitate your subsequent writing and publishing—of books, articles, and blog pieces.
An expert framework can take many forms, but it must include several essential elements:
(a) a description of the context of your work (for instance, if you are a management consultant, you should describe the business environment and the challenges faced by organizations and the people that manage them);
(b) a portrayal of how the knowledge discipline that you have studied, worked within, and mastered can be applied to this environment;
(c) a statement of the aspects of this discipline that you have focused on and have experience in;
(d) a presentation of the ways that you can help people respond to the challenges, ideally organized in a way that specifies the relationships among them; and
(e) a clear set of terms and their definitions that you use in your work.
This framework can be incorporated into the site throughout, but an overview of it should be placed on an orienting page, preferably the homepage, with hyperlinks to pages that go into greater depth about each of its elements.
Putting together an expert framework accomplishes much of the content development aspect of creating a website, but judging from many websites today, it is frequently overlooked. This is understandable in view of the technical expertise it takes to set up a good-looking and effectively interactive site. Much of the focus is on design, with the owner of the site left to supply the content with little guidance, or with help from people who prefer to focus on content that is more oriented to marketing and communication than to knowledge. Design is an undeniably important issue, but knowledge (made accessible and understandable for a defined audience, and therefore transformed into content) must be seriously addressed as well.
Furthermore, this work can be leveraged to make your other publishing more effective. Many of the problems that subject-matter experts face in writing books and articles come when they try to do essential conceptual work at the same time that they are writing and working out the structure of a publication. They are conflating content development with publication development. The conceptual challenges overwhelm the writing, creating tremendous pressure. Having already developed an expert framework, in which the essential concepts have been established, can relieve much of this and provide resource material for the writing.
© Martin Wilcox