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Establishing a Brand-driven Message Architecture WebVisions NYC

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Trying to manage scope creep? What about seagulling stakeholders? And what content matters most, anyhow?
These questions and other challenges drive content strategy. If you’re a designer planning for content or a developer tailoring the CMS to specific content types, they’re your challenges, too. If you need to empower a team, wrangle a client, and rally everyone around a common vocabulary for your primary navigation, forget your title. It’s time to embrace content strategy, starting with the message architecture.
Brand-driven content strategy complements user-centered design, and this workshop will help you get up to speed on the philosophy, questions, tools, and exercises to implement it. We’ll conduct a hands-on exercise to prioritize communication goals and develop a message architecture—ideal whether you design for the web, mobile apps, social media, or offline experiences. Then use this foundation to learn about a qualitative and quantitative content audit, content types, and editorial style guidelines. We’ll discuss the content opportunities a gap analysis reveals when we use the message architecture as a metric of quality. You’ll leave with the savvy and experience to bring brand-driven content strategy techniques and thinking into your own work.
What you can expect:
Learn how—and why—to establish a hierarchy of communication goals in a message architecture with a hands-on exercise
Discuss the right questions to ask—and how to ask them—to minimize distracting, off-brand features, like the blog no one has time to update
Use a content audit to evaluate content against the message architecture
Gain additional tools to keep your projects on track, on time, and on budget

Presented as a workshop at WebVisions NYC, April 7, 2016, at WebVisions in New York.

Published in: Design
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Establishing a Brand-driven Message Architecture WebVisions NYC

  1. Margot Bloomstein WebVisions 040716 #WebVisions @mbloomstein © 1974, Marty Temme Hiwatt
  2. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 3 © 2016 Content demands attention
  3. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 4 © 2016 Because we all want the same thing, but content keeps getting in the way. (CC) http://www.flickr.com/photos/slworking Content requires time
  4. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 5 © 2016 Content dredges up politics © Margot Bloomstein
  5. This is your job now.
  6. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 7 © 2016 ©Skillset.org
  7. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 8 © 2016 Titles < Roles < Skills ©Skillset.org
  8. © The Creative Group
  9. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 11 © 2016
  10. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 12 © 2016 Content, design, IA, and UX— and the processes to create them— complement each other through content strategy. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 12
  11. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 13 © 2016 Content, design, IA, and UX— and the processes to create them— complement each other through content strategy. But they require a foundation and vision. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 13
  12. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 14 © 2016 Message architecture Content audit Content types Content model Editorial style guidelines and calendar
  13. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 15 © 2016 What is content strategy? Planning for the creation, aggregation, and governance of content that’s useful, usable, and appropriate in an experience.
  14. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 16 © 2016 Steps along the way… Message architecture Content audit/inventory Prescriptive content matrix Content model Editorial style guidelines Metadata guidelines Governance guidelines
  15. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 17 © 2016 Deliverables are merely punctuation in the conversation. They can’t replace the conversation— and too often, we’re afraid to talk.
  16. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 18 Why content strategy?
  17. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 19 Why content strategy? Because we all want the same thing, but content keeps getting in the way.
  18. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 20 Why content strategy? Launch on time
  19. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 21 Why content strategy? Stay within budget
  20. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 22 Why content strategy? Maintain a consistent user experience visually and verbally, across channels
  21. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 23 Why content strategy? Without the team killing each other over differences in opinion and changing goals
  22. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 24 © 2016 This doesn’t need to be hard. Good content doesn’t need to be expensive to plan, time-consuming to create, or difficult to maintain. That’s content without content strategy.
  23. More like Apple.
  24. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 27 © 2016 More like Apple’s message architecture Confident but approachable; accessible Simple • Minimal detail • Streamlined and anticipatory Inviting, friendly • Supportive but not fawning
  25. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 28 © 2016
  26. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 29 © 2016 Gracious and engaged • Welcoming, anticipatory service Elite and premium • Selective membership • “Curated” experiences Traditional • Enduring heritage • Preserving appreciation for quality Message architecture?
  27. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 30 © 2016 Innovative Global Inclusive Engaged …versus Harvard’s principles (inspirational, but not actionable)
  28. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 31 © 2016 Message architecture Cheeky • Witty and fun • Young without being childish Customer oriented and responsive • Approachable, friendly, and empowering Helpful • Accessible
  29. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 32 © 2016
  30. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 33 © 2016
  31. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 34 © 2016 From: Little MOO | Print Robot <noreply@moo.com> Subject: MOO | Order 0629312615 | Confirmed Hello I'm Little MOO - the bit of software that will be managing your order with moo.com. It will shortly be sent to Big MOO, our print machine who will print it for you in the next few days. I'll let you know when it's done and on its way to you. Remember, I'm just a bit of software. So, if you have any questions regarding your order please first read our Frequently Asked Questions or contact customer services (who are real people!) Thanks, Little MOO, Print Robot
  32. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 35 © 2016 Message architecture vs. brand values? 1. Cheeky 2. Customer oriented 3. Helpful Design Innovation Community Excellence (Inspiring, but lack priority)
  33. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 36 © 2016 What’s a message architecture? A hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary.
  34. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 37 © 2016 What’s a message architecture? A hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary… versus brand values, which are the ethics of a company.
  35. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 38 © 2016 First things first. Why start blogging, audit the content, consolidate site architecture, add video testimonials, relaunch the site, develop new brand guidelines, launch a new campaign, or go “mobile first”… if you don’t know what’s most important to communicate?
  36. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 39 © 2016 If you don’t know what to communicate, how will you know if you succeed?
  37. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 40 © 2016 What’s a message architecture? A hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary.
  38. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 41 © 2016 A little thing with big impact.
  39. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 42 © 2016 A little thing with big impact.
  40. How could we prove this is a car not like anything else out there? It’s a small car, but it’s premium. You get a Porsche 911 ride for a fifth of the cost. It’s got history… but in Europe. You need to give people content to give them history.”
  41. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 44 © 2016 Message architecture Premium technology • Assertive; ready to perform as a driver’s car • Proactive and supportive of spontaneity Classic design • Experienced and savvy Cheekiness • Smart, “punny,” hip • Fun, gleeful
  42. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 45 © 2016
  43. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 46 © 2016
  44. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 47 © 2016
  45. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 48 © 2016
  46. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 49 © 2016 If these emails are boring you and you don’t mind missing out on all the lip-smackin’ stuff we’ll be sending in the future, simply send a message to owner- unsubscribe@insiders.miniusa.com and include “Unsubscribe” and your favorite fruit in the subject field.
  47. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 50 © 2016 Message architecture drives the user experience
  48. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 51 © 2016 Nomenclature Calls to action Instructional content Sentence structure Diction …in content
  49. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 52 © 2016 Photographic angles Dark backgrounds Bold headlines Thick stroke weights …and in design
  50. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 53 © 2016 …and in the prioritization and coordination of features and content types.
  51. Content strategy creates harmony & cuts cacophony across channels.
  52. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 55 © 2016 Not all channels fit all brands. Serious and technical? • Annual reports • Articles on your site • Articles on other sites • Blogs • Books • Branded tools • Case studies • Digital magazines • eBooks • Email newsletters • Facebook posts • Games • In-person events • Infographics • Licensed/syndicated content • LinkedIn posts • Microsites • Mobile apps • Online presentations • Podcasts • Print magazines • Print newsletters • Research reports • Twitter • Videos • Virtual conferences • Webinars/webcasts • Whitepapers Per Content Marketing Institute & MarketingProfs 2013 Content Marketing Survey
  53. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 56 © 2016 Not all channels fit all brands. Fun and engaged? • Annual reports • Articles on your site • Articles on other sites • Blogs • Books • Branded tools • Case studies • Digital magazines • eBooks • Email newsletters • Facebook posts • Games • In-person events • Infographics • Licensed/syndicated content • LinkedIn posts • Microsites • Mobile apps • Online presentations • Podcasts • Print magazines • Print newsletters • Research reports • Twitter • Videos • Virtual conferences • Webinars/webcasts • Whitepapers Per Content Marketing Institute & MarketingProfs 2013 Content Marketing Survey
  54. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 57 © 2016
  55. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 58 © 2016 Premium • Lindt embodies quality, in product, marketing, & company interactions • Approachable: Quality indulgences are more accessible • Trusted in brand and quality Empowering • Entrepreneurial: Innovating, championing individuals and successes • Market driving: strategic and proactive • Professional and consistent through experience and being responsive Community-minded • Engaged with the Lindt family • Customer-oriented • Socially conscious Message architecture
  56. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 59 © 2016 Message architecture drives a consistent user experience, visually and verbally.
  57. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 60 © 2016 Elegant layout and typography • Spread-to-spread sightlines and flow • Wider borders • Layered background images • Italic titles with initial drop caps
  58. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 61 © 2016 Imagery of individual impact • People engaged with product and service— not just product or just results of service • Diversity of role, gender, ethnicity, and age
  59. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 62 © 2016 Accessible, informative copy • First-person plural • Frequent rhetorical asides • Shorter sentences • Clear, concrete explanations
  60. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 63 © 2016 Message architecture Content audit Content types Content model Editorial style guidelines and calendar
  61. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 65 © 2016 What’s a message architecture? A hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary.
  62. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 66 © 2016 What’s a message architecture? Concrete, shared terminology, not abstract concepts.
  63. Welcoming, but elite. Selective?
  64. Welcoming, but elite. Inclusive?
  65. Welcoming, but elite. Exclusive?
  66. Traditional, but edgy.
  67. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 71 © 2016
  68. Sometimes, we prefer jargon to communication.
  69. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 73 © 2016 Words are valuable, but meaningless without context and priority.
  70. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 74 © 2016 How? • Engage in a tangible, hands-on way • Encourage debate and conversation • Identify points of disagreement • Prevent seagulling • Force prioritization • Encourage ownership & investment
  71. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 75 © 2016
  72. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 76 © 2016 Cardsorting • Tables of 7 • 3 people represent the client • 4 people consult on content strategy
  73. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 77 © 2016 • Who we are • Who we’re not • Who we’d like to be Go with your gut! Step 1
  74. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 78 © 2016 Who we are  Who we’d like to be Be aspirational. What needs to change? Step 2
  75. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 79 © 2016 • Form groups: what goes together? • Prioritize the goals or groups • Tell the story of those aspirations Step 3
  76. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 80 © 2016 Why do this? Words are cheaper than comps.
  77. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 81 © 2016 Why do this? Content creation, organization, and governance all need a strong foundation.
  78. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 82 © 2016 Why do this? Choose content types to manifest the message architecture— not just because they’re trendy.
  79. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 83 © 2016 And beyond… • Gain standards by which to conduct a qualitative audit. What is “good” anyway? • Determine keywords for SEO • Prioritize CMS changes to support content • Reallocate budget and resources across channels
  80. @mbloomstein | #WebVisions 84 © 2016 But first things first: Understand what you need to communicate—and why.
  81. Margot Bloomstein @mbloomstein margot@appropriateinc.com slideshare.net/mbloomstein All photography © Margot Bloomstein unless noted. Screen grabs property of their respective owners.

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