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Content Strategy for the Real World

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An introduction to web content strategy with real-world examples of how to make it work

An introduction to web content strategy with real-world examples of how to make it work

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  • Rachel Lovinger of Razorfish really kick-started the conversation about what content strategy is with a 2007 article “Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data,” and people have been discussing it ever since. Everybody has their own definition, but I find sometimes it’s easiest to talk about it in terms of what it’s not.
  • My favorite definition of content strategy comes from my favorite practicioner of it. It’s both simple & comprehensive. If you haven’t ready Halvorson’s book, I highly recommend that you do. It’s a great guide to the theory and practice of content strategy.
  • Content is too often an afterthought “We’ll take care of it after design/functionality.” But in most cases people are not coming to your site to drool over great design or awesome code. In fact, the only thing that they should actively notice IS the content. Tech and design are IN SERVICE of the content. So why don’t we treat it that way?
  • We’ve been hearing for years that “content is king” – but let’s be honest, in practice the king is often just a figurehead. Who is responsible for content? Sometimes it’s an agency copywriter. Sometimes it’s a freelancer. Sometimes it’s a team. And too often, nobody really assumes responsibility or control at the outset of the project. After all, you’ve got so much going on---technical requirements, design decisions, comp reviews, etc., etc.—You can deal with the actual content later. How much time does it take to write stuff anyway, right? We set OURSELVES U p for failure when we don’t recognize this!!! The user is coming to the website FOR THE CONTENT. Not to see a pretty design or awesome technology.
  • All of this falls under the perview of a content strategist. You think the client is going to do this? I’m not saying that (in most cases) a single person is going to do all of this, but doesn’t it make sense to have someone in a team leadership role who has ownership? Somebody needs to make sure it gets done.
  • The content strategist is NOT the copywriter. She is the owner of the content.
  • My favorite definition of content strategy comes from my favorite practicioner of it. It’s both simple & comprehensive. If you haven’t ready Halvorson’s book, I highly recommend that you do. It’s a great guide to the theory and practice of content strategy.
  • You are the advocate for the content, from the first day of the project, for as long as the site is
  • Now I’m going to talk about content strategy in practice. Everyone has his/her own way of approaching it, so I’m going to share a few specific techniques & tools that work for me, but there are five essential steps in the process
  • Analysis In my opinion, this is the most essential part of the process, and ironically, it’s the most likely to get short shrift. — this is where you start to align content recommendations to the business goals and project objectives. This is why you need to be in the room at the beginning. The better you understand the purpose of the project, the better you can analyze what you need for success. The better you articulate this stuff, the better off you’ll be as you move into the next stage
  • This process is iterative, and happens in conjunction with IA. Careful planning at this stage is going to save a TON of time & anguish later. The purpose is to really think about what’s going on the site and justify its place in the organization.
  • This accomplishes several things: Identifies specifically what goes on each page (Don’t need individual ones for very repetitive content, like product descriptions or press releases) Gives you an idea if you’re trying to say too much or too little on a page Raises up red flags in terms of showing how many resources/assets are going to be necessary Gives you a ground zero to go back to if the ACTUAL content needs to be
  • Good news—if you’ve been diligent in the planning process, this part should be comparatively easy But this is where you pay if you haven’t spent enough time in the planning & analysis phases.
  • Whether or not you’re working with a CMS, you need to figure out how the content is actually going to get online. Depending on the nature of your organization, you may not be physically doing the implementation, but as the content strategist, it’s your job to make sure that you’ve got enough time & resources allocated
  • If there’s one thing I want to get across to you, it’s that content strategy is NOT a one-time thing. If you do the job well, you’re never going to be at an end point. And that’s a good thing. You need to pay ongoing attention to your content, and it’s up to you to determine the best form for that to take—whether it’s a formal monthly review with your whole team, or an informal check-in with your editorial staff. One thing during governance—web stats will be your best friend. I’m not an analytics expert, but I’m fortunate enough to work with a team of talented marketing/SEO people. We look at both our site and our clients’ on a regular basis and see what pages are getting hit, where people are coming from, etc. From there, we make INFORMED decisions about refining, adding and removing content.
  • If there’s one thing I want to get across to you, it’s that content strategy is NOT a one-time thing. If you do the job well, you’re never going to be at an end point. And that’s a good thing. You need to pay ongoing attention to your content, and it’s up to you to determine the best form for that to take—whether it’s a formal monthly review with your whole team, or an informal check-in with your editorial staff. One thing during governance—web stats will be your best friend. I’m not an analytics expert, but I’m fortunate enough to work with a team of talented marketing/SEO people. We look at both our site and our clients’ on a regular basis and see what pages are getting hit, where people are coming from, etc. From there, we make INFORMED decisions about refining, adding and removing content.
  • Now I’m going to talk about content strategy in practice. Everyone has his/her own way of approaching it, so I’m going to share a few specific techniques & tools that work for me, but there are five essential steps in the process
  • If there’s one thing I want to get across to you, it’s that content strategy is NOT a one-time thing. If you do the job well, you’re never going to be at an end point. And that’s a good thing. You need to pay ongoing attention to your content, and it’s up to you to determine the best form for that to take—whether it’s a formal monthly review with your whole team, or an informal check-in with your editorial staff. One thing during governance—web stats will be your best friend. I’m not an analytics expert, but I’m fortunate enough to work with a team of talented marketing/SEO people. We look at both our site and our clients’ on a regular basis and see what pages are getting hit, where people are coming from, etc. From there, we make INFORMED decisions about refining, adding and removing content.
  • Now I’m going to talk about content strategy in practice. Everyone has his/her own way of approaching it, so I’m going to share a few specific techniques & tools that work for me, but there are five essential steps in the process

Content Strategy for the Real World Content Strategy for the Real World Presentation Transcript

  • Content Strategy for the Real World
    • November 16, 2010
  • What is Content Strategy?
  • What it’s not
    • “ Just” copywriting
    • Subservient to design or technology
    • Something to put off to the end
    • A one-time effort
  • What it is
    • Holistic
    • Complex
    • Iterative
    • Essential for success
    • Our job
  • "The practice of planning for content creation, delivery, and governance.” --Kristina Halvorson, Content Strategy for the Web
  • Where does it fit in? Design Tech Content
  • Who is responsible?
    • Design  Designers
    • Functionality  Developers
    • Content  ???
  • Who is responsible?
    • Assessment/Analysis
    • Messaging strategy
    • Role assignment
    • Copywriting
    • Metadata
    • SEO
    • Workflow
    • Legal review
    • Channel distribution
    • Scheduling
    • Accessibility
    • Defining success metrics
    • Implementation/Migration
    • Maintenance
  • The Content Strategist
  • “ A good content strategist should be the first one in and the last one out.” --Britta Alexander, Eat Media
  • The Content Strategist’s Role
    • Advocate for the content
      • Analyze needs
      • Manage execution
      • Plan for the future
  • Content Strategy in Action
  • The Content Strategy Cycle
    • Auditing
    • Analysis
    • Planning
    • Creation
    • Implementation
    • Governance
  • Auditing
    • Account for everything you have
    • Yes, everything
  • Sample Audit
  • Analysis
    • Goals/objectives
    • Users
    • Tone
    • Structure
    • Constraints
  • Sample Content Brief
  • Planning
    • Happens before design
    • Accounts for all content types on a page
    • Requires more than wireframes
    • Is when you ask “why”
  • Sample Page Table
  • Creation
    • Writing the actual words
    • Delegating
    • Scheduling
    • Getting approval
  • Sample Content Table
  • Implementation
    • How does the content get from there to here?
  • Sample Implementation Plan
  • Governance
    • Is not passive
    • Measures your success
    • Strives for continual improvement (aka optimization)
    • Requires continued commitment & attention
  • Governance
    • Track 
    • Analyze 
    • Re-optimize 
    • Implement
  • . . . And keep it up!
  • Recommended Resources
    • Content Strategy for the Web , Kristina Halvorson
    • The Web Content Strategist’s Bible , Richard Sheffield
    • Winning Content blog by Colleen “Leen” Jones
    • Content Strategy knol
    • Eat Media blog
    • Contente blog by Nicole Jones & Michael Seidel
  • Contact Information: Jennifer Hoppe Senior Writer/Content Strategist CDG Interactive [email_address] 202-872-9500 x 248
  • Content Strategy for the Real World
    • November 16, 2010