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Hope this presentation inspires you to develop a web content strategy for your site.

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  1. 1. Herding Cats: Web Content Strategies Gill Murrey Office of Web Communications Vanderbilt University
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Defining “content strategy” and “content” </li></ul><ul><li>Typical workflow, with examples of deliverables </li></ul><ul><li>Who’s doing it right - site tour </li></ul><ul><li>Resources to learn more </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is Web Content Strategy? <ul><li>Content strategy encompasses the discovery, ideation, implementation and maintenance of all types of digital content—links, tags, metadata, video, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>- from the Scatter/Gather blog </li></ul>
  4. 4. What is Content? <ul><li>Text and data </li></ul><ul><li>Graphics </li></ul><ul><li>Video and Animation </li></ul><ul><li>Audio </li></ul><ul><li>Documents </li></ul><ul><li>Forms, Alt tags, Metadata, and more </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Content Problem <ul><li>Usually low priority - done last minute </li></ul><ul><li>Sites identified by pages , not by content </li></ul><ul><li>Rarely a dedicated person to handle content </li></ul><ul><li>The launch-and-it’s-finished mind-set </li></ul>
  6. 6. More Content Problems <ul><li>Both company generated and user generated </li></ul><ul><li>Communication styles vary from person to person </li></ul><ul><li>The challenge: How can these different styles become one consistent voice that promotes your company’s message? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Problem Solved: Web Content Strategy <ul><li>Collects all the content on a website and organizes it into a user-friendly presence with a common voice that reinforces the identity. </li></ul>
  8. 8. A Short History <ul><li>2002: “Content strategy” is used in a book titled Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>2005: Amy Gahran started series called What is Content Strategy and Why Should You Care? </li></ul><ul><li>2007: Boxes and Arrows article by Rachel Lovinger, Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data </li></ul><ul><li>2010: Content Strategy for the Web , by Kristina Halvorson </li></ul><ul><li>2010: content strategy workshop track at SXSW </li></ul>
  9. 9. What does a Web Content Strategist Do? <ul><li>Prescribes content across the site, piece by piece </li></ul><ul><li>Designs (and provides examples) for specific content types: articles, captions, pull quotes, lists, and more </li></ul><ul><li>Gives a collective voice and a single, coherent message to your content </li></ul>
  10. 10. A Job Description <ul><li>Skills: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Experience developing online editorial styleguides, content localization processes, and SEO guidelines. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Solid understanding of online usability concepts and standards. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Superlative written and verbal communication skills. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to plan, manage, and execute on simultaneous project deliverables under tight deadlines in a team environment. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Excellent eye for detail, consistency, and accuracy </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Job Description, cont. <ul><li>Tasks: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conduct a current-state assessment including content inventory, analysis of content usage, and content gaps. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assist in research activities including partner interviews, usability studies, and competitive analyses. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop content requirements and document the desired future state and target experience for partner content online. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Produce a final content strategy document, containing recommendations for a partner content strategy and operational model. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Content Strategy Workflow
  13. 13. Content Strategy Workflow <ul><li>What Do We Have? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content inventory, qualitative review, gap analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Usability testing, site map, wireframes, page tables </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples of each style type (article, caption,etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Build </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gathering, writing, editing, organizing content </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Maintain </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Editorial calendar, styleguide, process to remove content, process to archive content </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. What do we have?
  15. 15. Content Inventory <ul><li>Quantitative - lists all existing content - articles, images, video, audio </li></ul><ul><li>Done on Excel spreadsheet </li></ul><ul><li>Include a column for “content types” - articles, press releases, FAQs, staff bios, product information, etc. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Credit: Jeff Veen, Adaptive Path </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.adaptivepath.com/ideas/essays/archives/000040.php </li></ul>Credit: Sarah Rice, IA Institute
  17. 17. Qualitative Content Review <ul><li>Evaluate every piece of content, asking: </li></ul><ul><li>Who is the audience and what are their goals? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the existing content meet these goals? </li></ul><ul><li>What action will the audience take with the content (read, submit, join, comment, listen, watch, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Will content be current and accurate at launch? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the content on message for the company’s brand? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Gap Analysis <ul><li>The gap between where you are now and where you want to be </li></ul><ul><li>Identify where you’re missing content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discover from focus groups, surveys, and other usability studies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Check your analytics – what are people searching for that you don’t have? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Create a priority list for creating new content </li></ul>
  19. 19. Plan
  20. 20. Big Questions First <ul><li>What does your site want to be? </li></ul><ul><li>What content do you need? </li></ul><ul><li>Prioritize key messages </li></ul><ul><li>How will the content be structured? </li></ul><ul><li>How will the content “walk the walk” of your brand? </li></ul>
  21. 21. Usability Testing <ul><li>Who are your users? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Surveys </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One-on-one interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Task analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analytics </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Brainstorm <ul><ul><li>Establish key themes and topics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Map user goals and business requirements to themes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Define the company’s voice and tone: for example, casual or formal; conservative or freewheeling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify and interview content providers </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Integrating Social Media <ul><li>Look at your content inventory and your qualitative content analysis. How are you currently using text, audio, images, video? </li></ul><ul><li>Which pages would benefit from two-way interaction? </li></ul><ul><li>Where are conversations taking place? Talk with receptionists, sales staff, presenters. </li></ul><ul><li>How can you further these conversations with social media? </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>Can social media be </li></ul><ul><li>integrated? If yes, give </li></ul><ul><li>details. </li></ul><ul><li>Credit: Digital Web Magazine </li></ul><ul><li>Download a blank content audit: </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.digital-web.com/extras/ </li></ul><ul><li>social_media_strategy/contentaudit.pdf </li></ul>
  25. 25. Defining the Content Groups <ul><li>User Generated Content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Message Board postings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook and Twitter </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Company Generated Content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Web pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blog postings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook and Twitter </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Site Map <ul><li>Site Map Credit: http://www.gdoss.com/web_info/information_architecture_deliverables.php </li></ul>
  27. 27. Wireframes <ul><li>For page structure and content requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Specifies placement of content types on a Web page </li></ul><ul><li>Makes calls to action (read, join, download, etc.) clear </li></ul><ul><li>Can be low fidelity or high fidelity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For high fidelity, don’t use lorem ipsum placeholder text - use actual text </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>Credit: http://www.usability.gov/methods/design_site/define.html#CreatingaWireFrame </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>High-fidelity wireframe </li></ul><ul><li>From Jesse Bennett- </li></ul><ul><li>Chamberlain of </li></ul><ul><li>31Three. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Page Tables <ul><li>Details how content will be created for web pages </li></ul><ul><li>Lists who is responsible for each area of content </li></ul><ul><li>Done in Microsoft Word </li></ul><ul><li>On a small site, done for every page; on a large site, done as templates for pages with the exact same purpose and use </li></ul><ul><li>Buy Content Strategy for the Web to see an example </li></ul>
  31. 31. Page Tables <ul><li>Include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Source of content - is it ready without any changes? Needs to be edited? Written? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When to use the content (launch, phase 2) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Page title </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Main content focus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secondary content focus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any technical considerations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any maintenance gotchas (product updates every spring) </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Content Types <ul><li>Article </li></ul><ul><li>Sidebar </li></ul><ul><li>Caption </li></ul><ul><li>Pullquote </li></ul><ul><li>List </li></ul><ul><li>FAQ </li></ul><ul><li>Product Info Sheet </li></ul>
  33. 33. Give Your Writers Styleguides for Content Types <ul><ul><li>List the number of characters for each content type </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Include writing samples for each type, demonstrating voice and tone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create templates to help writers prepare content for each content type </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Voice and Tone <ul><li>Gives the writing on your Web site personality </li></ul><ul><li>Comes from your brand </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Light or serious, freewheeling or controlled, plainspoken or elaborate, personal or impersonal </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Not just for body text – also for titles, links, and headings </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it consistent throughout the site </li></ul><ul><li>Here’s an example </li></ul>
  35. 37. Build
  36. 38. How Do You Get Content? <ul><li>Original content, written for & by the company </li></ul><ul><li>RSS feeds from other sites </li></ul><ul><li>Actively search for content on other sites and aggregate it (content curation) </li></ul><ul><li>Working with bloggers, photographers, videographers, and podcasters </li></ul><ul><li>Licensed content from 3rd party </li></ul><ul><li>User-generated content from social media </li></ul>
  37. 39. Resources for Writers <ul><li>Letting Go of the Words , by Ginny Redish </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t Make Me Think , by Steve Krug </li></ul><ul><li>Killer Web Content , by Gerry McGovern </li></ul><ul><li>Writing for Multimedia and the Web , by Timothy Garrand </li></ul>
  38. 40. Content Approval Process <ul><li>Document who will write, edit, and approve content for each section </li></ul><ul><li>The approver makes sure that the content is useful, usable, and on-message for the brand </li></ul><ul><li>Also checks that the writing stays true to the specified content type </li></ul><ul><li>Checks that the voice and tone are consistent </li></ul>
  39. 41. Maintain
  40. 42. Editorial Calendar <ul><li>Document that details when (and why) each type of content will be updated </li></ul><ul><li>Lists name of person responsible for maintaining that area of content </li></ul>
  41. 43. Editorial Styleguide <ul><li>Make available to everyone on wiki or intranet </li></ul><ul><li>Leads to consistent, readable, and credible content </li></ul><ul><li>See an example: Energy Information Administration’s Web Editorial Style Guide </li></ul><ul><li>Includes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Editorial voice, Capitalization, Abbreviations, Commonly misused words, and more </li></ul></ul>
  42. 44. Process to Remove Content <ul><li>Document the process you’ll use to remove out-of-date content from the site. </li></ul><ul><li>Approval process </li></ul><ul><li>Store on a wiki or intranet for all content providers to see. </li></ul>
  43. 45. Process to Archive Content <ul><li>Document when and how content will be removed and how it will be stored </li></ul><ul><li>Put in a wiki or intranet for all content providers to access </li></ul><ul><li>Document approval process to archive content </li></ul>
  44. 46. Who’s Doing It Right? REI <ul><li>www.rei.com </li></ul><ul><li>Content staff is well funded and respected internally. Includes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>data architect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>content architect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Taxonomist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>seo/natural search manager </li></ul></ul>
  45. 47. REI and Facebook <ul><li>Fan page includes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>expert advice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content from REI’s Twitter feed, YouTube videos, and Flickr photo streams </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>REI Outlet deal of the day </li></ul></ul>
  46. 48. Web Content Lifecycle* <ul><li>Audit </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze </li></ul><ul><li>Strategize </li></ul><ul><li>Categorize </li></ul><ul><li>Structure </li></ul><ul><li>Create </li></ul><ul><li>Revise </li></ul><ul><li>Approve </li></ul><ul><li>Tag </li></ul><ul><li>Format </li></ul><ul><li>Publish </li></ul><ul><li>Update </li></ul><ul><li>Archive </li></ul><ul><li>*Kristina Halvorson, Content Strategy for the Web </li></ul>
  47. 49. Resources <ul><li>Content Strategy for the Web , by Kristina Halvorson </li></ul><ul><li>The Web Content Strategist’s Bible , by Richard Sheffield </li></ul><ul><li>Content Wrangler community (ning) </li></ul><ul><li>LinkedIn group </li></ul><ul><li>Follow the #contentstrategy hash tag on Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>Google Groups on Content Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Scatter/Gather blog </li></ul>
  48. 50. Questions?