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Keeping content alive, from cradle to grave

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By now we all know that the web is not a publi cation — that it’s a living, evolving thing. But a lot of content I see still appears to be ‘published’ once and then left alone. …

By now we all know that the web is not a publi cation — that it’s a living, evolving thing. But a lot of content I see still appears to be ‘published’ once and then left alone.

This talk is about what happens after content is published. We’ll talk about how to:

decide what to create in the first place (and what the best format is)
identify which content types need to be left alone, and which need to be looked after
revive existing content and give it a second wind
check your content is still working for its readers
put it to sleep when it is time
put a process in place so you can do this yourself and with distributed content creators
We’ll also discuss how this varies depending on your industry, size of site and type of content.

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  • Talk about how, in theory, we know that a website is not a publication. We know that, we talk about it. We’ve even communicated it to a lot of people who work or worked in a pre-web world.But still far too much work is done by redesigning or redeveloping, releasing and then leaving it. Often having to come to a point later on where the site is so ‘bad’ the whole process has to be done all over again.Of course, that’s not universal and there are a lot of sites that don’t work that way. But it’s still common enough that it’s worth talking about how to deal with it
  • Even definitions of content strategy are more about identifying what’s needed, creating and publishing than about looking after what you have
  • The world changes and what we did before may not suit what we are doing now
  • User expectation changesThanks to these people for examples of stylish sites: @austingovella (www.wiking.org), @budaloco (http://www.camoar.gov.ar/), @ruthellison (http://corrimalleagues.com.au/), @sturobson (http://www.fabricland.co.uk/)I got these screenshots by asking twitter for examples of sites that look like they were done in 1995. And got…
  • I don’t really care that style changes as this presentation is about content. But people’s expectations do change, and what once was OK can lose credibility as the world changes.
  • It’s hard for people to look at something and know whether it’s accurate or not. They believe the web and believe what’s on it. It has to be right
  • http://www.smh.com.au/news/Breaking/Restaurant-fined-for-outofdate-website/2005/02/24/1109180010135.htmlI discovered this while looking for examples of out of date pages – I’m not surprised that this could happen, but hadn’t heard of examples.
  • So this talk is about how to plan and prepare so your content stays alive throughout it’s lifecycle
  • So, the first part of planning for a content lifecycle is identifying what you will be needing.
  • The next step in planning for content to have a full lifecycle is to think about the different types of content you have and what needs to happen over their lifecycle.What types of content do you have that only ever need to be published once? What types need checking and updating? What might actually grow?
  • For the one-off, consider whether you are happy that these will have attention only for a short time. Or would you like them to be useful for longer.For the others, think about the time period around when they have to be updated
  • If this sort of pattern is OK, great. But maybe you’d like for something to live a bit longer
  • Ask class for examples
  • I started thinking about this idea of reviving content when I signed up for the yoga journal newsletter. They have years of articles sitting in their site, from their print magazine. They do write new material for print, but also make the most of their old content. The daily newsletter has a quick summary of a topic and links back to the previous articles. It’s a great way to highlight these.Articles – continue to have value, bring them back to attention
  • They do also keep that content available via traditional navigation
  • (In contrast, this site does nothing with their previous stories. There’s some really good content in here and NO way to find it)
  • Runners world do the same – making older articles the core of the site and findable via navigation. Apparently they also
  • Runners world also surface old content by RT or answering questions
  • You can resurface older content on your home page – ALA editors choice is just that
  • Another straightforward approach is by ‘more’ or ‘related’ links. http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-puzzles.htm
  • Ask class for examples
  • An example walkthrough. What might it cost to study at Canberra uni (believe me, this is one of the top questions potential students are worrying about, and it’s incredibly hard to figure out as the government policies are very complex)
  • Still no fee information. A simple walkthrough would have told you whether that information was available (surely they are getting questions about it too)
  • I love the crazyegg confetti map – shows where people are clicking by referrer. I was working with a client who had this and had a pile of articles links on the home page – it was really clear what keywords were important as people were not only clicking the link, but the keyword too.Thanks to Jason Foss for sharing these
  • Loop11 is just one of many online tools that can help you test your content quickly
  • Thanks to Clearleft for letting me include this
  • You can do it the old fashioned way by sitting with
  • http://www.rvscience.com/products/crystal.htm
  • http://www.tga.gov.au/legis/bp2007cons.htm
  • http://www.w3.org/WAI/References/Browsing
  • Is it good enough to rely just on dates to indicate whether something is valid or not? Especially as there are no links to current versions…
  • Or you might just change the tense to past tense and indicate it’s done.http://uxaustralia.com.au/conference-2010/
  • Written into past tensehttp://humanfactors.uq.edu.au
  • Clearly marked as archived http://www.uq.edu.au/study/archive/program_list.html?action=view_all&acad_prog=5286&year=2007
  • http://www.tga.gov.au/legis/bp2007cons.htm
  • Transcript

    • 1. Keeping your content alive: From cradle to grave
    • 2. About me
      User experience freelancer – information architecture, interaction design, content strategy
      Far too long (10+ years)
      Run UX Australia (Sydney, late August 2011)
      @maadonna
      A practical guide to information architecture
      Card sorting
      How to write great copy for the web
    • 3. What still happens
    • 4. Content strategy
      “Content strategy plans for the creation, publication and governance of useful, usable content”
      Kristina Halvorson – The discipline of content strategy
      http://www.alistapart.com/articles/thedisciplineofcontentstrategy/
      “It plots an achievable roadmap for individuals and organizations to create and maintain content that audiences will actually care about.”
      Kristina Halvorson – Content strategy for the web (New Riders)
    • 5. Does it matter?
      Why isn’t it OK to write a site, launch and leave it?
    • 6. The world changes
    • 7. People’s expectations change
    • 8.
    • 9.
    • 10.
    • 11. Your content changes
      Rules, policies, procedures, principles, ideas – they all just change
    • 12. What we’re going to talk about
      Deciding what to publish in the first place
      Identifying content types that can be left alone and which need to be looked after
      Reviving existing content
      Checking the content is still working
      Retiring content when it is time
      Processes for distributed content authors
    • 13. What we’re not going to talk about
      Not e-commerce/product sites
      Not user-generated content sites
      Relates to content-heavy sites
      Not just words. All content – words, audio, video, diagrams etc
    • 14. What to publish
      How do you figure out what to publish?
      My list
      Stuff you know that people need to know
      Upcoming issues and topics
      Cyclical content
      Feedback from people
      Questions from people
      Things you learn from actual user research
      Search terms
    • 15. Identifying content to leave alone/manage
    • 16. Identifying content to leave alone/manage
    • 17.
    • 18. Reviving
      Why restart when you can re-use
    • 19.
    • 20.
    • 21.
    • 22.
    • 23.
    • 24.
    • 25.
    • 26. Reviving
      Why restart when you can re-use
      Rotate articles to home page
      Restart a discussion
      Related and interesting articles
    • 27. Is your content still working?
      Walk through key scenarios as if you were new to it
    • 28.
    • 29.
    • 30.
    • 31.
    • 32.
    • 33.
    • 34.
    • 35.
    • 36. Is your content still working?
      Walk through key scenarios as if you were new to it
      Pay attention to feedback and questions
      “How much does the conference cost?”
      “Do workshops cost extra?”
      “How do I pay you?”
      “What time does the conference finish?”
      Use remote tools to see what’s happening on your site
    • 37.
    • 38.
    • 39.
    • 40.
    • 41. http://www.flickr.com/photos/24139340@N02/4931570875/
    • 42. Is your content still working?
      Walk through key scenarios as if you were new to it
      Pay attention to feedback and questions
      “How much does the conference cost?”
      “Do workshops cost extra?”
      “How do I pay you?”
      “What time does the conference finish?”
      Use remote tools to see what’s happening on your site
      Undertake usability testing
    • 43.
    • 44. Retiring content
      What do you do when content is ready to retire?
    • 45.
    • 46.
    • 47.
    • 48.
    • 49.
    • 50.
    • 51.
    • 52.
    • 53. Retiring content
      What do you do when content is ready to retire?
      My list
      Delete it (& redirect links)
      Mark it as out of date
      Wrap it up into past tense (UX Australia)
      Archive it
    • 54. And distributed authorship…
      Run content like a project
      Set milestones/deadlines/tasks
      If you’ve identified what you need & what its lifecycle is, this is easy
    • 55. Wrap up
      Look after content for its entire lifecycle by:
      Deciding what to publish in the first place
      Identifying content types that can be left alone and which need to be looked after
      Reviving existing content
      Checking the content is still working
      Retiring content when it is time
      Putting in place processes for distributed content authors
    • 56. Questions & thanks
      http://maadmob.com.au/
      +61 409-778-693
      donna@maadmob.net
      Twitter etc: maadonna