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Sylvie Daumal Information ArchitectDuke RazorfishParis, France
Content strategy In europe and in europeanprojects 26 juin 2009
Content Strategy and Information Architecture are closely tied, although clearly distinguished, at least in North America. In European projects, however, this distinction has blurred. Why am I talking ABOUT CS?
As information architect, I am frequently put in charge of the content strategy, as well as the access, findability and semantic issues of the projects. IA and CS
Is this the right model for CS in Europe? Could there be another way for content strategy to be applied in Europe and in European projects? IA and CS
Content strategy’s practice areas are: UX discovery and designContributeideas to the vision and design (caninclude audit phase). Messaging strategyIdentify the key messaging and content to support both the brand and the UX vision. Findability and Access pointsNomenclature, labeling, taxonomy and metadatathat supports user access points, navigation and organisation of content. advise on SEO. Content deliveryContent deliverymechanisms, tools, technologies, and requirements. Content creation and maintenancePlanning strategies for the maintenance of content. What we are talking about
Content editing is not new: in the printing industry publishers, journalists, editorialists and many other jobs have been responsible for these tasks for a long time. old skills
However, an onlinejournalist or editorialist is not a content strategist. CS requires new skills and knowledge related to digital support, like library science, search engine and CMS. Most of all, it is a user centered discipline. But A new expertise…
How many people are really doing content strategy in Europe? Is ‘content strategist’ their job title? If there is no CS on a project, who’s doing the job? That’s the question we want to answer. What the question is
A European project usually deals with more than twenty languages and a very wide range of user behaviours: for instance, the German, Dutch and French do not have the same purchase behaviour online.
There are two different kind of European projects: global initiatives (with some local adjustments) and local projects aiming at sharing some content.
This kind of organisationaims to profit from an economy of scaleby centralising resources. Consequently, there is little concern about local particularities.
Global initiatives are characterised by tensions: Global vs. Local Brand image first vs. Business first Communication territory vs. Answeringqueries
On the local side, this can lead to competitive situations between global strategy and local operations (i.e. higher bid for paid search).
On the global side, the approach often aligns on the lowest common denominator, which leads to a uniformity of information and tone of voice, without any character.
This standardising approach does not fit with a real content strategy, all the more since these projects are driven by marketing or communication department on the client side, according to a top bottom scheme.
These projects are also organised on a single platform: the CMS is chosen for its capability to manage different alphabets and languages, and shared assets, not to offer a wide range of variations.
Sometimes, there can be specific content, e.g. local initiatives for local product. In this case, the content strategy can be more predominant, but it is still marketing that leads.
Last but not least, European projects involve many different agencies (advertising, digital, analytics): positioning, messaging and tone of voice are commonly decided by a non-digital agency.
Is it possible to hire a CS for each languagewhen you’re dealing with 20+ languages? Unfortunately, budgets cannot afford such a luxury.
Is it possible to hire a CS for all languages, working for one pilot language, and have then translators dealing with each language? Unfortunately, this wouldn’t take behavioral differences into account.
More realistically, content strategy has to adapt its discipline to multi-lingual projects. What are the possible solutions? 54
Be present from the beginning to the end of the project to ensure content quality and accuracy. 55
Separate tasks between global and local and create / invent deliverables that can be easily handled by translators or copywriters. 56