Less Content. More Strategy. (D2WC)

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Less Content. More Strategy. As presented at the Designer to Developer Workflow Conference. Kansas City, MO, 30 September 2013.

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  • Do NOT tell me what happened on Breaking Bad last night!
  • The Less Content.More Strategy. blog is at http://lesscontentmorestrategy.com.
  • The basic premise of the idea, is that, as content increases, so does the expense associated with planning, architecting, creating, delivering, maintaining, governing, and archiving that content. The stress of the work teams increases as well. Yet at the same time, value to the end user and revenue decline. If we’re going to choose to take on that increasing expense and stress, shouldn’t it be for something that *increases* value to the end user and conversion/revenue/profit?
  • Gerry McGovern, a UK-based consultant, talks about The Long Neck. This is a variation of the Pareto Principle, also known as “the 80/20 rule.” He talks about it in reference to user tasks. , but it applies to content as well, so we’d say that 20% of your content is used 80% of the time. Except it’s really more like the Pareto Principle on steroids. A friend shared some analytics information for two of his clients:An e-commerce site had 714,716 pages and 12,125,733 pageviews.The top .01% (71 pages) got 4.4 million (more than 30%) of the page views.677,848 pages (94.8%) were viewed fewer than 25 timesSo let’s think. How much money did it cost to create those 677,848 pages? How about maintaining it? How about creating an information architecture that smoothly incorporates all of that rarely-used content? Probably WAY more than they made (or saved) the few times they were accessed.And this isn’t an outlier. The same friend shared stats for a large B2B IT software company:211,318 pages9,025,793 pageviewsTop .01% (21 pages) had 6,141,264 (68%) of the page views.205,775 pages (97.4%) of the pages had fewer than 25 views.In a world of internal corporate tools, where they don’t actually generate revenue, they are still intended to save money by increasing employee productivity. In scenarios like those above, the time saved for the 25 employees visiting those pages is far outweighed by the time spent on the content in the first place. The ROI just isn’t there.I hear numbers like these over and over again. It just isn’t worthwhile for those groups to maintain that content. (Possibly with a few exceptions, like some legal or privacy notices to limit liability.)
  • But McGovern’s long neck applies to content as well. Applying the Pareto Principle, we’d say that 20% of your content is used 80% of the time, and 80% of the content is used 20% of the time. Except it’s really more like the Pareto Principle on steroids. A friend shared some analytics information for two of his clients:An e-commerce site had 714,716 pages and 12,125,733 pageviews.The top .01% (71 pages) got 4.4 million (more than 30%) of the page views.677,848 pages (94.8%) were viewed fewer than 25 timesSo let’s think. How much money did it cost to create those 677,848 pages? How about maintaining it? How about creating an information architecture that smoothly incorporates all of that rarely-used content? Probably WAY more than they made (or saved) the few times they were accessed.And this isn’t an outlier. The same friend shared stats for a large B2B IT software company:211,318 pages9,025,793 pageviewsTop .01% (21 pages) had 6,141,264 (68%) of the page views.205,775 pages (97.4%) of the pages had fewer than 25 views.In a world of internal corporate tools, where they don’t actually generate revenue, they are still intended to save money by increasing employee productivity. In scenarios like those above, the time saved for the 25 employees visiting those pages is far outweighed by the time spent on the content in the first place. The ROI just isn’t there.I hear numbers like these over and over again. It just isn’t worthwhile for those groups to maintain that content. (Possibly with a few exceptions, like some legal or privacy notices to limit liability.)
  • So how does one determine whether content has good ROI? We can use a quadrant map.Some things are inexpensive to produce/maintain/govern, and they provide a high return. (e.g., contact information for a restaurant)Some things are inexpensive to produce, but few people really care about them. Your CEO can write a nice “welcome to our web site,” but end users don’t care about that.Some things cost more to produce and are worth that cost. Corporate branding would be one example.But some things cost a lot and provide little value. Online video is one example of this. In the end, though, where certain content falls in this map is truly dependent on the individual product, and even timeliness. When Amazon introduces a new line of Kindles, the home page features a letter from Jeff Bezos (for a day or two, anyway). If a company is in the midst of a PR nightmare, a letter from the CEO can be good PR and provide reassurance to investors. So, while it still doesn’t have much value as actual end user content, it still serves a purpose and has some value. In short, every situation is different.
  • The salaries alone (not including benefits, department overhead, materials, and other associated expenses) help illustrate that content isn’t cheap. Remember that for a large site, you’ll be employing dozens of people with these job roles, buying them computers, hiring admins to support them, providing HR benefits, and allocating physical space to allow them to work. It’s often easy to just stop arguing. To say, “Fine. If that video is so important to you, put it out there. No one will watch it, and it won’t matter.” I’ve done it. I’m still tempted to do it when someone pushes for useless content for whatever personal pet reason they have. But let’s not confuse “I am tired of arguing with you” with “This makes good business sense.”
  • Finally, every piece of useless content creates noise that gets in the way of people finding and using the content that’s actually useful to them. There is a case study in Philadelphia of a consultancy that reduced a client’s page count by 40% and received effusive thanks from the help desk employees for adding MORE content to the site. They hadn’t added more content, of course – they’d just removed the noise and structured the remaining content carefully so people could actually find the content they needed without having to call the help desk.
  • Many of the same psychological constructs that contribute to physical hoarding also contribute to digital hoarding. In the same way that it’s a bad idea to buy a new car just because your (friend/neighbor/brother/colleague) bought a new car, it’s also a bad idea to adopt the ways of your competitors without a close look at whether it’s worthwhile for you.
  • This 2009 redesign exercise shows clearly how some digital decluttering makes the experience better for end users trying to achieve their primary goal.
  • AA’s 2011 redesign starts to adopt this approach.
  • The 2013 redesign declutters the reservations area even more but extends the length of the page dramatically. (And the actual form fields for booking are below the fold on many screens – one should be careful not to remove the signal along with the noise).
  • This is the FAQ page for LaneFurniture.com. They’re known for recliners, but they also sell every other kind of mainstream furniture as well. How likely is it that all of those questions are actually asked, frequently, by customers? Does telling people when mid-ottomans were added to recliners and motion units help them sell furniture? I contend it does not. And you and I both know that hundreds of person-hours were spent around conference tables, deciding which questions to include, how they should be answered, rephrasing the questions, rephrasing the answers, categorizing the questions, and ordering the questions. One hopes they are also maintained as service offerings change.
  • When drafting a site architecture and page layouts, it’s important NOT to use filler text like LoremIpsum. It’s important to know exactly what the content is so it can be labeled properly and the right amount of page real estate can be allocated to it and arranged in the right way.
  • I’d previously mentioned video as something that is expensive to produce and often provides little value. Note that we’re not talking about YouTube here, where the whole purpose of the site is to watch videos. The value provided by video is highly variable and depends on the specific situation. A demo video is probably pretty important if you are a company that other companies hire to make videos. If you’re trying to explain the beauty of no-load mutual funds, probably not so much. And, of course, there’s plenty in between. But do consider carefully whether a video is the right solution for you, because they can be very expensive to produce, present issues for SEO and accessibility, are often disliked by end users who can find information more efficiently in text or infographics, and are nearly impossible to maintain – you have to throw away the existing video and create a new one.
  • Once you’ve removed all of the superfluous content that isn’t serving you, make sure you organize what’s left as clearly and intuitively as possible. This process will be MUCH easier if you are able to cut the (probably) 80-90% of your content that’s going largely unused.
  • Remember: No BreakingBad spoilers!
  • Less Content. More Strategy. (D2WC)

    1. 1. Less Content. More Strategy.
    2. 2. 30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     2   Danielle  Gobert  Cooley   danielle@dgcooley.com   @dgcooley   14  years  as  a  UX  Specialist     BE,  Biomedical  and  Electrical  Engineering  –  Vanderbilt  University   MS,  Human  Factors  in  InformaMon  Design  –  Bentley  University   Selected  Work           hOp://linkedin.com/in/dgcooley  
    3. 3. 30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     3  
    4. 4. 30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     4  
    5. 5. (Less)  Content.  (More)  Strategy.   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     5   Content   Stress   Expense   Value  to  End  User   Revenue   Expenses  and  stress  increase  with  content.   While  end  user  value  and  revenue   ulMmately  suffer.  
    6. 6. SO  WHAT  IS  CONTENT  STRATEGY?   6   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC    
    7. 7. Uh-­‐oh!   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     7  
    8. 8. You  probably  already  do  it!   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     8  
    9. 9. Aaaah.  Clients.   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     9   I  need  a   wireframe.   Uhhhhh…  OK?  
    10. 10. Which  one?   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     10   ?
    11. 11. KrisMna  Halvorson’s  definiMon   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     11   “ “Content  Strategy  is  the   pracMce  of  planning  for   content  creaMon,  delivery,   and  governance.”    -­‐  KrisMna  Halvorson  
    12. 12. Rahel  Bailie’s  definiMon   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     12   “ “Content  Strategy  is  the   development  of  a  repeatable   process  that  manages  content   throughout  the  enMre  content   lifecycle.”   And  that  means,  from  planning  to  creaMon  to  management  within  the  CMS,  to  publishing,   to  post-­‐publishing  acMviMes,  and  back  through  the  next  iteraMon  of  planning,  and  so  on.  
    13. 13. What  content  are  we  talking  about?   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     13   Graphics   Audio     Video   Photos   PDFs   Blog  Entries   Copy  Tweets   hOp://www.site.com   Links   spacer.gif  
    14. 14. Content  creaMon   •  Who’s  going  to  create  it?   •  How  omen?   •  What  kind  of  content  will  it  be?   •  Tone?   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     14   Don’t  forget  about   maintenance!  
    15. 15. Content  delivery   •  Is  this  going  on  the  website?   •  TwiOer?   •  Facebook?   •  Email?   •  Annual  Report?   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     15   Technical  consideraMons   can  be  huge!  
    16. 16. Content  governance   •  Who  reviews  &  approves  new  and  updated  content?   •  Who  determines  and  enforces  removal  and  archival  rules?   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     16   Who  gets  to  (has  to?)  say   “No!”  to  the  boss?  
    17. 17. (LESS)  CONTENT   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     17  
    18. 18. The  long  neck   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     18   hOp://www.gerrymcgovern.com/  
    19. 19. Content’s  long  neck   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     19  
    20. 20. Required  quadrant  map   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     20   Benefit   Cost   Logo  &   Branding   FAQ   Culture   Video   Contact   LeOer  from   the  CEO   It  Depends   J  
    21. 21. Content  is  expensive   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     21   Intermediate  Copywriter   $51,358   Webmaster   $66,169   Java  Developer   $80,858   Art  Director  (Web)   $102,526   Salary.com  (2011)  
    22. 22. Signal  to  noise  raMo   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     22   www.jolyon.co.uk  
    23. 23. The  psychology  of  cluOer   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     23  
    24. 24. The  psychology  of  cluOer   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     24   At  Your  House   On  Your  Website   Insecurity   “I  might  need  that   someday!”   “A  customer  might  need   that  someday!”   Keeping  up  with  the   Joneses   “The  neighbor  has  new   landscaping.  I  need  new   landscaping,  too!”   “My  compeMtor  uses   video.  I  need  to  use  video,   too!”   HecMc  pace  of  life   “I’ll  just  put  this  mail  here   for  now  and  deal  with  it   later.”   “I  don’t  have  Mme  to  meet   about  that.  Just  check   with  legal  before  you  put   it  up  there.”  
    25. 25. DusMn  CurMs  gets  it   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     25   hOp://www.dusMncurMs.com/dear_american_airlines.html  
    26. 26. AA  is  even  starMng  to  get  it   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     26   2011  
    27. 27. 30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     27   2013  
    28. 28. This  person  got  it.   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     28   Everything  Else   Enter  your  tracking  number   Track  My  Package   Reference  unknown.  
    29. 29. GoDaddy  Didn’t  Get  it.   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     29   hOp://www.heathbrothers.com/posts/2011/04/gone-­‐godaddy-­‐gone/   And  it  cost  them  a  (high  profile)  customer.  
    30. 30. 30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     30   vs.  
    31. 31. Lane  Furniture.com  doesn’t  get  it.   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     31   hOp://www.lanefurniture.com/Contact-­‐Us/FAQ.aspx  
    32. 32. (MORE)  STRATEGY   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     32  
    33. 33. The  most  important  thing   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     33   Your  content  is  the  most  important   thing  about  your  website.  
    34. 34. Let  me  repeat  that…   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     34   Your  content  is  the   most  important   thing  about  your   website.  
    35. 35. Take  care  of  important  things   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     35   Treat  your  content   with  love.      Yell  at  anyone   who  doesn’t.  
    36. 36. Lorem  Ipsum  must  die!   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     36   Lorem  ipsum  dolor  sit  amet,  consectetur  adipiscing  elit.  Donec  nunc   enim,  volutpat  ut  malesuada  sit  amet,  aliquam  eu  orci.  In  quis  mauris  at   enim  fermentum  vulputate  et  sed  enim.  Suspendisse  tempor  ligula  et   libero  iaculis  quis  tempor  erat  imperdiet.  Vivamus  adipiscing  nunc  vel   odio  dictum  tempor.  Nulla  mauris  nibh,  laoreet  nec  lacinia  id,  feugiat  eu   eros.  Curabitur  faucibus  gravida  lectus,  sed  faucibus  felis  mavs  nec.  Duis   interdum  placerat  urna  sit  amet  posuere.  Aenean  in  ligula  at  enim   convallis  sagivs.  Nam  ac  fermentum  augue.  Curabitur  sollicitudin,  lorem   vel  tempus  malesuada,  tellus  quam  loborMs  risus,  id  dapibus  odio  leo   eget  orci.  Morbi  eu  augue  mi,  eu  porta  arcu.  Donec  massa  leo,  blandit   quis  viverra  vitae,  fringilla  in  augue.  Cras  condimentum,  nibh  ut  varius   lacinia,  metus  quam  faucibus  tortor,  sed  posuere  lacus  risus  in  diam.   Donec  leo  orci,  fermentum  vel  suscipit  eget,  tempus  in  leo.  Vivamus  ante   justo,  posuere  at  sagivs  at,  consequat  vel  leo.  VesMbulum  rutrum   commodo  lorem,  non  varius  nisi  venenaMs  nec.    
    37. 37. Bacon  Ipsum,  however,  is  awesome.   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     37   hOp://www.baconipsum.com   (No!  Not  really!)  
    38. 38. See  also:   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     38   hOp://www.rikeripsum.com   hOp://www.slipsum.com   (Stop  it!)  
    39. 39. SEO   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     39   SEO  is  important  and  should   be  considered  as  part  of  your   strategy.   <Mtle>  tags   Link  text  &  placement   Copy  volume  
    40. 40. Video   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     40   Video  is  expensive,  and  its   use  should  be  considered   very  carefully.   “I’d  rather  just  read.”   “Video  takes  too  long.”   81%  of  users  leave  video  if  it  buffers.   hOp://www.tubemogul.com/research/report/99-­‐Online-­‐Video-­‐Delivery-­‐SMll-­‐Nowhere-­‐Near-­‐TV-­‐Quality  
    41. 41. InformaMon  architecture   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     41   Whatever  content  is   included  needs  to  be   organized  very  well.  
    42. 42. More  content  might  be  OK.     Maybe.  Some?mes.   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     42  
    43. 43. Further  Reading   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     43   Erin  Kissane   TwiOer.com/kissane   KrisMna  Halvorson   TwiOer.com/halvorson   Karen  McGrane   TwiOer.com/karenmcgrane   “Content  Strategy  “Group  Content  Strategy  meetups   in  many  ciMes  
    44. 44. More  from  me?   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     44   Code:  DCSPECIAL   12  December:  How  to  Design  IntuiMve  and  Usable  Products  Through  User  Research     06  March:    Don’t  Guess:  Test!  The  Why,  What,  and  How  of  User  TesMng  
    45. 45. Recap   •  You  are  (probably)  already  a  content  strategist.   •  Content  is  expensive.   •  Let  go  of  what  no  longer  serves  you.   •  OpMmize  what  does.   30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     45   Less Content. More Strategy. lesscontentmorestrategy.com  
    46. 46. 30  September  2013                                      @dgcooley                                        #D2WC     46  

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