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Content strategy on a shoestring budget
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Content strategy on a shoestring budget

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Slides from presentation at IA Summit 2011

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  • Tell a little about me and Balance – why I’m here.
  • This is what content strategy is – a process and a plan.
  • One way we explain content is to use the house building analogy: The actual house is the navigation scheme, the design is like the paint and décor of the house and the content is the furniture you put in it. People understand this and it really gets them thinking. Who does each of these things? IAs do the navigation (and more), designers do the design, and IAs, writers, content strategists and other all do the content.
  • Do you really want old furniture in a brand new house? Probably not. But what if you can’t afford new, designer furniture for the whole house?
  • You don’t have to furnish the whole house with designer furniture at once.Start small. First, pick the room (pages) that is most often seen by others, and furnish with designer furniture. The home page, most visited pages, other important pages. Do the full Monty on those. For smaller budgets, we pick 15-20 pages that are most important. For some of the other rooms, you might need new furniture, but a new bookcase from IKEA or Target will do – it just has to be functional and look decent. People come into those rooms, but are just passing through. We have another list of 20-50 pages that we look at and make tweaks that focus the content and make it usable. And then there are rooms that just keep the furniture you had. These are the rooms hardly anyone sees. These are pages that tend to get very few visits, the pages you have to include for political reasons. They still get the fresh coat of paint and new doors and windows, but don’t spend a lot of time on these. Many times, the clients will handle this content themselves. When building a house, you plan for home furnishing well before you move in. Do the same with content.
  • Here are the moving partsof content strategy. They can be done sequentially or one at a time – color coated according to phases: DiscoveryArchitectureBuildImplementationNow to answer the burning question: How much time does this take?
  • This is the basic for a small to mid-size site.These times go up and down based on the client, the actual project, and time line.
  • Here is the starting point – whether you are starting a new project or just looking for a jumping off point for an existing site and not starting a new project. Baseline time: 2-4 hoursThere are ways to save.
  • Once you know what you have, you evaluate it.
  • An evaluation of different existing things will identify deficiencies that need to be fixed most urgently. Audience: are you speaking to the right people? If you haven’t already accurately identified the right audiences, stop right away. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. But you are IAs, so you know all about identifying audiences, right? This is a chance to use the personas you’ve created – can they use the information on each page? Are they able to find the clear path to what they seek?Current site: is it scannable, readable, usable, consistent in visual identity?Competitors: are all your competitors doing something you are not? Are there gaps on your site vs. competitors or are you way ahead of them just by thinking about content?When you do all these things, you have an honest and realistic picture of your website and how it fits into marketing & communications plans and a baseline for going forward.From this analysis, you build a road map.
  • Plan on ways to replace old furniture or fill up empty rooms. When and how will you add on?Be sure to keep resources – human and content – in mind when planning. ISA example.
  • My full document takes upwards of 10-12 hours. But you can also just spend about 2-3 hours and get a shortened version with specific recommendations, but general analysis. Colleen Jones has a 1-pager you could put together in a couple of hours.Once you know what you are going to do, you need to build a road map.
  • The content worksheet or matrix is the road map that will get you to the end.Documents every page on the site – and all their pieces – and matches it to what exists, either online or offline.
  • No ways to save on this, but it does pay it forward. If this is complete and comprehensive, build will go smoother and delays will be fewer. From there, you can begin creating the content.
  • Other have called these “page tables.” Identify all the parts of the page. They are for the writer/content contributor to be sure each page is cohesive and complete.Ways to save:Provide client or departments with template for spec sheets instead of doing the writing ourselves – this is helpful because they don’t always give you all the information you need for each page.Do just a few pagesWhen it comes time to put these and other pages in the CMS, use cheap labor – transferring or migrating content does not need to be done at a full rate. We have an hourly rate nearly half of our full rate for the content transfer taskThese are the pieces of content strategy. Now it’s time to storm the castle.
  • Ways to save:Provide client or departments with template for spec sheets instead of doing the writing ourselves – this is helpful because they don’t always give you all the information you need for each page.Do just a few pagesWhen it comes time to put these and other pages in the CMS, use cheap labor – transferring or migrating content does not need to be done at a full rate. We have an hourly rate nearly half of our full rate for the content transfer taskThese are the pieces of content strategy. Now it’s time to storm the castle.
  • How can you proceed? Is content your true love?
  • If you are convinced that content strategy is needed where you work, you may still need to convince others. Resistance is not futile. The key to overcoming resistance is to educate others within your organization and clients and prospective clients. Explain cartoon.Explain strategic nagging.For me there wasn’t a single magic bullet, but what I did was - create documentation of practices and processes- define different levels of service so we could add content at various budget levels. - Offering to work with/coach clients to do pieces of the content work- build a team of different talents - writing, transfer, etc. – some of which aren’t as expensive as othersOnce you’ve overcome the internal hurdle, you may still need to convince your clients. The things that resonates with clients are:- Getting a complete website solution- Getting a fresh perspective on their content- Not having to write (so many people hate to write!)- Proof of performance (which we offer through examples)More and more people are hearing about content strategy and understand the importance of content. Take advantage of that and offer something – you’ll build a competitive advantage and be on the leading edge.
  • Everyone has a different idea of ROI. Is it time? Is it cost? Is it better team unity? Use this to help overcome the resistance. What are the pain points that can be solved by including content strategy in your web projects?Things to think about:When planned correctly, there are lots of ways to reuse content throughout the site and to create flexibility.There are fewer redo’s during buildYou can involve developers early by asking questions about how to implement something, stroke their ego, get them on your side and you’ll be able to build better team unity and ownership.
  • After you’ve overcome resistance and figured out how the ROI for your organization, you should be able to get at least some of your colleagues on board – and possibly everyone. Start with an ally or accomplice – preferably someone with authority over others who can make things happen.Define your plan and how it will grow your department, your agency, your company. Start with small things to prove the power of content strategy.
  • And there you have, how and why to get started with content strategy – not by diving head first over the cliff or eating up a project’s budget, but by dipping your toe in and getting wet slowly.

Content strategy on a shoestring budget Content strategy on a shoestring budget Presentation Transcript

  • Content Strategy on a Shoestring Budget
    Carrie Hane Dennison
    Balance Interactive
    carrie.dennison@balanceinteractive.com
    Content Strategy on a Shoestring Budget
    Carrie Hane Dennison
    Content & Usability Director
    Balance Interactive
    April 3, 2011
    IA Summit
  • Content Strategy
    Thinking about content* from the earliest stages of a project through maintenance.
    Content = text, images, video, documents, tools, etc.
  • Websites are like houses
    Blueprint = Navigation Scheme
    Paint/Décor = Design
    Furniture = Content
  • What are you going to put in this room?
  • Where to start?
    Most used or highest visibility rooms –best furniture
    Functional rooms – new, but inexpensive furniture
    Rooms no one sees but you –keep your old furniture
  • Moving Parts
  • How Much Time Does This Take?
    Based on a site with 100-300 pages*
    Content Inventory = 2-4 hours
    Content Strategy Brief = 8 – 12 hours
    Wireframe input = 1 hour
    Content Worksheet = 3 – 6 hours
    Style Guide = 0.5 hours
    Writing = 1.5 – 2.5 hours per page (includes review/edits)
    Transfer = 15-20 minutes per page (includes creation of page)
    *All depends on size of the project. Time grows exponentially with size of project.
  • Content Inventory/Audit
    Documents what you have and what to do with it
    Gives baseline
    Provides a way forward
  • Save on Content Inventory
    Have clients do themselves
    Divide among departments/stakeholders
    Do just an audit of key areas of the site
  • Content Strategy – Evaluate
    Evaluate what is known:
    Audience
    Be sure you got it right
    Use your personas
    Current site
    Is it scannable, readable, usable, consistent?
    Competitors
    Good & bad
    Copy or get ahead
  • Content Strategy - Plan
    • Recommendations
    • Editorial Process/Calendar
    • Maintenance
    • Future initiatives
  • Save on Strategy Document
    Do a shortened, less detailed version
    Do a 1-pager summary
    Include it in other documents
  • Content Worksheet
  • Pay it Forward
    Smoother build
    Fewer re-dos
    Fewer delays
  • Page Spec Sheets
  • Save on Spec Sheets
    • Provide client or departments with template for spec sheets
    • Do just a few pages
    • Use cheap labor to enter content in CMS
  • Have fun storming the castle
  • Overcome Resistance
    Through strategic nagging
  • Figure Out ROI
    What is it for your organization/clients?
    Save development time or cost?
    Get sites you launched on time?
    Something else?
  • Get Others on Board
    Make a plan to include content strategy where you can and grow from there.
    How much time will it take and what can you afford?
  • Thank you! Questions?
    Carrie Hane Dennison
    Balance Interactive
    carrie.dennison@balanceinteractive.com
    @carriehd