Content strategy in the context of experience design: providing content consumers with the right content at the right time and in the right media, to improve their user experience and build brand loyalty.
Short history of documentation methods
In the beginning, there was the book.
Then there was the PDF of the book.
Next there were online documents / help.
Modular/ topic-based content
of Web 2.0
Faster access to help
1. Document basics.
2. Get user comments.
3. Respond to comments.
The No Documentation approach: “We don’t document it; we just fix it.”
Orange Peel Media
Public record of support response encourages responsiveness.
Does that mean elimination of documentation?
• Some form of documentation needed when:
– System is complex
– First-to-market features (no transferable concepts)
– Embedded assistance
– Wayfinding content
• Guiding user to add-ons and supplies
• Enriching the experience of using a product or service
Change attitudes toward content
• How does your organization view your content:
– Pain point in a cost center?
– Corporate asset in a profit center?
• Hardware lives in bins.
• Content lives in database cells.
• Both are assets.
Manage your content like an asset.
• Financial assets:
– How much care is given their management?
– What happens when financial assets are
mismanaged? (witness Sarbanes-Oxley!)
• Content assets:
– How much care is given their management?
– What happens when content assets are
Is it time for SOX for docs?
Learn from industries that run on content: Work your content
Beyoncé, I Am ... Sasha Fierce,
Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
What goes into a musical experience?
MP3 file Track + metadata + Track + metadata + Track + metadata +
Cover art Cover art + VIdeo Cover art + Video +
Film + Game +
Blair Douglas, Nelson Mandela’s Welcome to
the City of Glasgow
Zachary Richard, Marjolaine
OK Go, Here It Goes Again
Fantasia, Walt Disney Productions
Value-add = ROI show
Music is no longer
“just a track” Game track
Multiple formats, video film
what content TV
supports what? Game track
Adding value to content
Single-use assets Multiple-use assets
• Cheap • More cost
• Little value • More value
• Utilitarian • More care
How do you from here to here?
Focus on the UX
If simplicity = joy,
and instant mastery =
brand loyalty, then use
experience design* to
create a delightful UX.
* Experience design includes:
• Multi-channel experience
• Digital experience design
• User experience
• User-centered design
• Service design
In a word: strategy
Content strategy that
allows for content to:
•Provide value for
•Gain value for your
This is, in essence, a
lots of content
Work the content:
the “buy” is only
content type #5
Blog posts Music files
Ads Music labels
Look at the end goal: find content
• How do you develop a content strategy that:
– Integrates incoming content types?
– Converges possibly 10,000+ incoming content
components per day?
– Ensures content is findable?
– Uses appropriate content types?
– Syndicates user-specified subsets of content?
Management of content designed to serve the consumer
• Critical aspects:
– Presentation layer to control the user experience
– Content management to automate delivery
– Taxonomy to handle the searchability
• The ability of content to be created for:
Look at the end goal: find content
When is a treasure hunt not a treasure hunt?
Where there’s no treasure at the end of the hunt.
• Universal user goal
– Consume content (text, graphics, video, sound) for
instruction, information, social connection, and/or
• Universal provider goal
– deliver the content in the best possible way for
Content convergence is a move away from content silos
a move away from arbitrary content silos.
Content integration is combining content
combining content from multiple sources.
Content syndication is efficiencies
Portable content creates
using automated publication to reach your audience.
A tech comm example -
3 sections, 3 instantiations
HP Knowledge Center
Same idea; better delivery.
thought and consideration
for user’s time.
Strategic content means portable content.
Content can be mixed-and-matched to fit new contexts.
Portable content makes context more important.
Content must support multiple contexts.
Complex contexts demand concise content.
Shape content around a single concept.
Context changes content.
The ability to re-use content across contexts increases content value.
Portable content and experience design
Content on the page comes from external sources: convergence and syndication.
Mash-ups are also can improve comprehension
Experience design a form of content convergence.
The content here is integration of data and visual content.
Content is integrated from:
• Airline booking
• Hotel booking
• Car rental booking
• Google maps
• Weather network
• User-generated content
… and more.
Convergence is automated,
generating an automatic,
This convergence of content
provides a value-add service to
Content is self-contained but not isolated.
Content is not isolated.
As in music, the convergence is more powerful than single bits of content.
To be portable,
content needs to:
• Be structured
• Conform to standards
• Have semantic properties
• Be findable (searchable)
Match structures to purpose
The market demands it
• Organizations need to deliver more
content, faster, cheaper.
• The content needs to work for many
• There is a need to deliver to multiple
markets , sometimes in multiple
• There is too much content to deal
with, to create linear content.
• Organizations need to protect their
• Users want what they want.
•Users want their content now.
• There’s always an alternative.
• They can DIY in the blink of an eye.
Gaming communities: Users take charge
• New games have minimal instructions
– Don’t know what users want yet
• As users gain experience, they want to share
tips, tricks, information
– Vendor can provide the user forum or users will
set up their own
• What happens when user/fan sites take over?
– Their sites can rank higher in search
– You’ve lost ability to manage your brand
Users demand it
Organic content convergence
• Some users dissatisfied with
• Built their own database.
• Better quality, more features.
• Search for “iPhone help” or “iPhone
error 12846” and observe the rankings
•Users stepped in and started forums
•Brand management issues arrive.
• Delivering a mix of content.
• Multiple languages
• Value-add to service consumers
• Strengthens brand
Corporate sites are like icebergs: the visible tip is “marketing;”
below the surface, it’s all technical info.
Subscriptions RSS feeds
Strategic content should flow through organizations as needed by consumers.
Convergence creates possibilities.
The end goal is consumer delight and satisfaction.
The move away from single-use, linear content is happening fast.
Every day, the bar is raised a little higher.
The pressure is on to devise strategies for portable content.
You snooze, you lose.
Strategic content leverages business drivers
Capital ROI: Market
Number of customers
Number of suppliers
Level of Current
Spare industry capacity
Relative market share advantage
Content strategy means rethinking the nature of content.
The new documentation doesn’t necessarily look like documentation.
If it can’t delight, content should at least be useful.
Strategic content is everyone’s issue
“Nothing can deter confidence
quicker than a broken experience.”*
With social media, broken experiences
can damage brands faster than ever.
* Christopher Cashdollar, Creative Director,
Happy Cog Studios
New content delivery is multi-layered, out of the silos.
In tough economic times ...
• Necessity is the mother of invention ...
• Hard economic times drive innovation –
from energy to manufacturing to
• When times get tough:
– You can’t afford to be complacent
– It’s not enough to be “competent”
– It’s not enough to do a “good” job
– It’s not enough to “follow orders”
Challenge = opportunity
• Not just advice for the music industry
• Not just for entertainment content
• Tough times demand:
If you can’t be entertaining, be enjoyable.
• By making the customer experience user-
focused, you create a better experience.
• Better experience is a market
• It says, “We care about our customers.”
How will your audiences use your content?
– First, there was Twitter.
– Then came TweetDeck.
– Then came TinyTweet.
(and so on, and so on)
• The UX gap was filled by others.
• Close to 400 Twitter apps out there.
• That could be deliberate strategy.
• Is that OK for your brand?
• What are the touch points?
• What can be automated for
• What are the preferences of your
• How creative can you be?
• What is the best you can provide,
Can you fill a gap?
• Exploit the potential of your content
• Deliver a rich UX
• First impression of a site: 50 milliseconds!
• Watch teenagers surf for information.
• Watching the Geek Squad: technicians leave a
page within a few seconds in search of
“something shorter” (easier comprehension).
Are you a T-shaped thinker?
You’re adept at convergent, synergistic thinking.
Does your content have semantic properties?
• Is it structured?
• Can it be re-used?
• Can it be filtered?
• Can it be searched (more importantly,
• Can it be personalized?
• Can it be integrated, syndicated?
• Can your content converge?
Lots of places to find inspiration
• How does your content measure up?
• Do you have a strategy to move to the
• Check your competition.
• Look to other industries
Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend,
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
XML, DITA, DocBook, S1000D
And many other schemas:
Wikis, Other XML
Specialty XML, conversions