“Kill the ‘content
phase’ and help
the web grow up.”
Why? Part I
A generation into
the web, we still
don’t do content
It’s our open secret.
And it shows. Credit: Blogger.com circa 1999
Why? Part II
Old problems. No ownership or expertise.
CMS. Archive. Postlaunch erosion. Lack of
New problems. Deeper and wider
inventories. Richer oﬀerings. Revenue
models. SEO. Social. Multichannel. Partners.
UGC. Technologies galore.
Introducing Content Strategy
‣ What? Product
development for content.
‣ How? CSes, like product
developers, sit between
“product” and “plumbing”.
RFPs are requiring it.
But content strategists are only ~1% of UX
Courtesy A List Apart Web Design Survey 2009.
CS is Multidisciplinary
Credit: Richard Ingram
At minimum, it’s adjacent
to interaction design,
analysis and content
CS is a Lifecycle
“Content Strategy plans for the
creation, publication, and
governance of useful, usable content.”
“If information architecture is the spatial design of
information, I see content strategy as the temporal side
of that same coin.” --Louis Rosenfeld
‣ The web is a publishing medium.
‣ Content is integral (to experience).
‣ Content producers = de facto publishers.
‣ To users, the web is awash in content.
Site owners feel the ﬂoodwaters, too.
So, sink or swim. Filter or be ﬂooded.
‣ Why? Because
publishing is hard. Credit: Jessica Hagy
Consider the masthead.
‣ Curation is king. The ﬁlter on the ﬁrehose
as an editorial function.
“The Day 2 Problem”
Postlaunch is a
Nothing shines a light on the good
faith agreement between client and
consultant than thoughtful aftercare.
Editorial strategy is about caring for
content after launch day. Credit: Flickr Commons
“[G]etting better at
publishing is the only way
you’re going to get better at
content.” Gerry McGovern
“Content strategy is
isn’t a magazine.
But it should be.
content audit Discovery and diagnostics
content to eﬀectively scope
inventory for a content strategy.
‣ What: Qualitative analysis of existing oﬀering.
‣ Why: Sets early direction.
‣ How: Like a creative brief, it begins to indicate
your position on the oﬀering--its constraints
‣ FYI: Your best scope tool. You can already be
prioritizing your recommendations here.
‣ What: Detailed quantitative analysis of existing
oﬀering, AKA the ultimate discovery and
‣ How: Be as exhaustive as resources allow.
‣ Why: Comprehensive understanding of oﬀering’s
potential. Sift gems from trash. Let the data do the
talking. Pivot tables are great insurance for later.
‣ FYI: Don’t do manually. Use SiteOrbiter or DIY
crawlers to index.
‣ What: Highly targeted competitive analysis of
speciﬁc digital properties or products/services.
‣ Why: It enables close study of brand/market
competitors. Good for scope.
‣ How: Like a spreadsheet version of an audit. Can be
very diﬃcult to gather competitor data.
‣ FYI: Start studying veritcals of interest. These are
rare today but will become commonplace as content
strategy benchmarking grows.
strategy Strategy development:
migration plan the heart of a content strategy.
‣ What: The strategies and tactics to
realize a new content oﬀering at launch
‣ How: Think “product strategy.” Develop
lifecycles for every content type.
From objectives to operations.
‣ Why: The indisputable
centerpiece of any content
strategy. Establishes terms of success.
‣ What: A “plan for a plan.” A strategic
framework and guidelines for migration.
Rarely a workplan.
‣ Why: Scope! Schedule! Budget! Iceberg!
‣ How: Use your inventory and apply mix
of bulk and manual workﬂows.
‣ FYI: David Hobbs’ Migration Handbook
‣ What: A technical plan for
supporting project objectives with
‣ Why: Because technical resources
overlook nuances of the content
requirements. And you’re the expert.
‣ How: Specify key content attributes + relationships.
‣ FYI: Critical to any dynamic content experience.
speciﬁcation Detailed implementation,
copy deck technical development
‣ What: An index of all content
elements and their editorial and
‣ How: Cousin document to the
Copy Deck. Map content reqs
from wireframes and sitemap.
‣ FYI: Also a production plan to
line-item associated at-launch
inventory of content required by
‣ What: Documents all
‣ Why: Self explanatory
‣ How: Smartly sequenced.
‣ FYI: The standard issue
web writing deliverable.
calendar Editorial product development
style guide and postlaunch content delivery.
‣ What: All content activities (e.g.,
production and curation)
documented and scheduled. !
‣ Potential: The CMS of CS! A dashboard tool for
planning, traﬃcking and measuring editorial ﬂow.
Great for generating metrics.
‣ How: Think web databases, forms, spreadsheets.
‣ FYI: A “Basecamp for editorial calendars” is
inevitable. (dlvr.it: a social curation approach?)
‣ What: Editorial conventions
‣ Potential: Detailed production
guide for all content modules,
intended for owners/authors.
‣ Why: Because your metadata
strategy is nothing without
execution. Governance is real here.
‣ FYI: Entirely unmerited bad rap.
Not a “writers’ thing.” Think training!
Content Development Credit: Webbmedia Group
‣ What: Actual content
production, limited time or
‣ Why: If you do traditional
editorial or branded content,
you live here.
‣ FYI: Tread carefully. Content production is expensive,
but it’s an easy mistake. (UGC might be cheap, but glut is
glut.) ROI is tricky but key, requires an editorial strategy.
Content Strategy FYI
‣ CS, the Knol
‣ CS, the Google Group
‣ #contentstrategy on Twitter
‣ @jeﬀmacintyre and @PredicateLLC
What’s In It for You?
Content strategy is meaningful when...
‣ The potential of your deliverables is marred
by poor execution, inconsistency & inaction
‣ New tools require process & org. change
‣ Measurement matters
‣ You need the big picture
‣ Governance & standards are incomplete
‣ It’s time to tune, not redesign
Where It Will Take You
Instilling a new postlaunch pride:
‣ bolder measures of success
‣ enduring results for your clientele;
lasting inﬂuence for your vision
‣ vanguard case studies