A Crash Course in Content Strategy

0c61aaa486d9a4dfcd3396b1f21083a9?s=47 scarequotes
October 24, 2011

A Crash Course in Content Strategy

Slides from the one-day content strategy workshop for the School of Visual Concepts, presented October 21, 2011.



October 24, 2011


  1. 1.

    A Crash Course in Content Strategy A workshop at the

    School of Visual Concepts October 21, 2011 Your host: James Callan Sunday, October 23, 2011
  2. 2.

    (This workshop stands on the blog posts and books of

    giants.) Sunday, October 23, 2011
  3. 3.
  4. 7.

    (Note: user experience, design, and the other things that make

    up your website are also important. This isn’t a contest.) Sunday, October 23, 2011
  5. 8.

    Content is not a nice-to-have. Content is not an add

    on. It’s a business asset. It has value. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  6. 9.

    Because ... it brings you customers, wins you fans, builds

    you an audiences, and earns you money. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  7. 10.

    It’s also a lot of work, if you want to

    do it well. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  8. 21.

    With content: It’s a suitable arena for humanity’s last stand

    against our machine overlords. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  9. 24.

    “In the web industry, anything that conveys meaningful information to

    humans is called ‘content.’” Erin Kissane, content strategist The Elements of Content Strategy Sunday, October 23, 2011
  10. 25.
  11. 26.

    “Content is anything an organization or individual creates and shares

    to tell their story.” Ann Handley Head of Content at MarketingProfs Sunday, October 23, 2011
  12. 27.

    words audio images comments cartoons illustrations photos podcasts Facebook posts

    blog posts navigation tweets video interface copy slideshows infographics white papers help articles error messages Twitter accounts Sunday, October 23, 2011
  13. 30.

    It’s a plan for getting stuff done in order to

    achieve a goal. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  14. 31.

    “Wikipedia’s strategy was creating a set of rules that got

    people to generate more than 18 million articles.” Erika Hall Co-founder & Director of Strategy at Mule Design Studio From her Confab presentation. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  15. 33.

    “You are all in publishing!” Jeffrey Zeldman, king of the

    web http://www.zeldman.com/2011/03/15/web-design-is-publishing/ Sunday, October 23, 2011
  16. 34.

    “Content strategy for the web is about bringing editorial skill

    and methods into website planning. In order to create good content, you need a plan for how you’re going to get it and keep it coming.” Elizabeth McGuane, writer/editor/content strategist http://mappedblog.com/2010/10/04/fear-loathing- and-content-strategy/ Sunday, October 23, 2011
  17. 35.

    “Content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to

    design.” Rachel Lovinger, content strategy director http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/content-strategy-the Sunday, October 23, 2011
  18. 36.

    “Like a gentleman in a finely crafted suit who wants

    to burp you the alphabet, even if your website looks nice, no one will stick around to hear what you have to say if you don’t craft something compelling.” Jason Santa Maria, graphic designer http://jasonsantamaria.com/articles/the-elements- of-content-strategy/ Sunday, October 23, 2011
  19. 37.

    “I am a firm believer that content strategy is communication

    design.” Nicole Jones, content strategist http://swellcontent.tumblr.com/post/4072864686/ demystifying-content-strategy-part-i-the-term Sunday, October 23, 2011
  20. 38.

    “Content is story. Content strategy is storytelling.” Prateek Sarkar Director,

    Creative Services Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Sunday, October 23, 2011
  21. 39.

    That’s a broad range of answers. Content strategy is a

    broad field. Practitioners come at it from different perspectives, and tend to specialize. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  22. 40.

    Where do content strategists come from? From “Apes of Wrath,”

    a Warner Bros. short. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  23. 46.

    “Content strategy helps organizations use content to achieve their business

    goals.” Melissa Rach, VP of Content Strategy at Brain Traffic Sunday, October 23, 2011
  24. 47.

    “(God help a business if UX isn’t one of their

    business goals, but helping the user isn’t an inherent part of content strategy).” Melissa Rach, VP of Content Strategy at Brain Traffic Sunday, October 23, 2011
  25. 49.

    Is content strategy marketing? (Marketers have been very excited to

    talk content strategy!) Sunday, October 23, 2011
  26. 52.

    It’s also data modeling. And product design. And change management.

    And social media. And editorial. And content management. And information architecture. And content development. And other stuff. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  27. 55.

    “Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of

    useful, usable content.” Kristina Halvorson, Content Strategy for the Web Sunday, October 23, 2011
  28. 59.

    Useful: How does this content benefit you? How does it

    benefit your user? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  29. 63.

    What are your goals? What is your content supposed to

    achieve for you? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  30. 64.

    “There’s really only one central principle of good content: it

    should be appropriate for your business, for your users, and for its context. Appropriate in its method of delivery, in its style and structure, and above all in its substance.” Erin Kissane, content strategist The Elements of Content Strategy Sunday, October 23, 2011
  31. 65.

    • Appropriate • Useful • User-centered • Clear • Consistent

    • Concise • Supported Good content is: Erin Kissane again. Seriously, read her book. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  32. 66.

    How do you know if your content is good? Inventory

    and audit. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  33. 70.

    The cornerstone of any successful content strategy! How do you

    do a content inventory? Click each link on your site. Document what you find. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  34. 71.

    Things often tracked in a content inventory: • Page ID/number

    • URL • Page Title • Parent • Page Description • Components • SEO Information (metadata, keywords) • Who inside the organization owns that content. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  35. 73.
  36. 75.

    More thorough audits can track all kinds of qualities. Is

    content on brand? Is it clear? Is it meeting customer needs? Is it in a usable format? (There are many possible measures.) Sunday, October 23, 2011
  37. 78.

    Say you’re visiting a pizza place’s website. What content would

    be useful and usable? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  38. 79.

    Business goals: Ideally, we’d talk to the business owner. If

    you owned a pizza place, what goals would you have for the website? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  39. 80.

    SPLIT INTO TEAMS OF TWO I’ll give each team a

    pizza restaurant’s website. Your job: Perform a quick inventory. What content is on the site? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  40. 81.

    And a quick analysis: Is it useful and usable, based

    on our goals? Is any content redundant, outdated, or trivial? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  41. 82.

    WORTH CONSIDERING: Does the content work on mobile? Are they

    linking to Facebook or Twitter or Yelp, and if so, are those up to date? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  42. 83.

    Spend a half hour on your analysis. Then prepare a

    quick overview: How’s the site’s content? What needs fixing? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  43. 84.

    Present: • Three adjectives that describe the pizza joint’s voice.

    What makes it distinct? • Three recommendations for how content (new, deleted, changed) could improve the site. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  44. 87.

    Remember the nutshell: 1. What content do we have? 2.

    What content do we need? 3. Fill the gap: edit, create & curate. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  45. 89.

    One thing to keep in mind: Content strategy is a

    process. It’s a cycle. It never really ends. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  46. 91.

    Content strategy is a web design discipline. Content experts should

    be involved from the beginning of a web design project. (Some would argue “content first.”) Sunday, October 23, 2011
  47. 92.

    It’s not a perfect world, of course, so that doesn’t

    always happen. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  48. 93.

    “The end goal is not great content. It’s a great

    thing.” Erika Hall Co-founder & Director of Strategy at Mule Design Studio From her Confab presentation. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  49. 96.

    Talk to everyone involved with the content, preferably one-on-one, about

    what they need and want from the site’s content. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  50. 97.

    The goal is to get an idea of how content

    works within the organization. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  51. 98.

    ASK QUESTIONS. (Go with the classics: who, what, when, where,

    why, and how.) Sunday, October 23, 2011
  52. 99.

    Who’s supplying the content? Who is the target audience? Who’s

    maintaining the content? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  53. 104.

    And a big one, especially in discovery: WHY? Why do

    we need a blog? Why do we need a Twitter feed? Why aren’t we using a CMS? Etc. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  54. 105.

    Once you’re done evaluating, it’s time to design. Some tools

    you might use to do so: Sunday, October 23, 2011
  55. 106.

    Message Architecture What are your key messages? How are you

    delivering them? Does your audience believe you? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  56. 107.

    Your message architecture is independent of form. It’s not a

    tagline, or a mission statement, or a video. It’s communication goals. Specific terminology. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  57. 108.

    words audio images comments cartoons illustrations photos podcasts Facebook posts

    blog posts navigation tweets video interface copy slideshows infographics white papers help articles error messages Twitter accounts Sunday, October 23, 2011
  58. 109.

    Editorial Style Guide What’s our tone? Which dictionary do we

    consult? Do we use the serial comma? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  59. 110.

    Editorial process Who’s creating our content? How do we decide

    it’s good enough? How do we evaluate its effectiveness? Sunday, October 23, 2011
  60. 111.

    Content Template (a.k.a. Page Table) What needs to go on

    each kind of page? Includes both visible and invisible content. Accompanies site map and wireframes. Communication bridge between subject matter experts and writers. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  61. 115.

    Editorial Calendar How do we decide when to publish? (Tweet

    twice a day? Update home page when new products launch? Respond to holidays? Respond to news events? How quickly? Etc.) Sunday, October 23, 2011
  62. 116.

    There are more tools. content matrices content modeling accessibility guidelines

    SEO analysis taxonomy personas competitive analysis wireframes Sunday, October 23, 2011
  63. 118.

    Also, not every project is a site-wide redesign. Content strategy

    works on a project-by-project basis. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  64. 119.
  65. 120.

    “If IA is the spatial side of information, I see

    content strategy as the temporal side of the same coin.” Louis Rosenfeld, information architect & publisher Sunday, October 23, 2011
  66. 121.

    “When I look at where most websites fail, it’s in

    managing their content over time.” Karen McGrane, Managing Partner, Bond Art + Science Sunday, October 23, 2011
  67. 122.

    Consultants and agencies: People want to hear from you! Yay,

    buy-in! But you don’t get to be there for the long haul. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  68. 123.

    In-house: Buy in can be a major challenge! But you

    know the brand and business goals, and you are there for the long haul. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  69. 124.

    Content strategy is not a quick fix. It’s a long

    process. One reason content is valuable is because it’s messy, and difficult, and requires a lot of resources. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  70. 125.

    To keep your content working: Track when content will need

    to be archived or updated. Use the editorial calendar. Use a rolling audit. Budget time to get that done. Sunday, October 23, 2011
  71. 129.

    Resources: I’ll post a bibliography and links and stuff on

    my blog: http://scarequot.es Come to a meetup with Content Strategy Seattle! http://www.meetup.com/Content-Strategy-Seattle/ Join the Google Group, or LinkedIn discussion groups. Follow smart people on Twitter. Content strategists are a friendly, helpful group. (I think it’s a job requirement.) Sunday, October 23, 2011
  72. 130.

    THANK YOU Remember to fill out your evaluation. james@scarequot.es http://scarequot.es

    Twitter: @scarequotes Don’t forget to write. Sunday, October 23, 2011