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SVC Content Strategy Workshop - Winter 2012


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SVC Content Strategy Workshop - Winter 2012

  1. 1. A Crash Course inContent Strategy A workshop at the School of Visual Concepts March 2, 2012 Your host: James Callan @scarequotes
  2. 2. (This workshop stands on theblog posts and books of giants.)
  3. 3. Introductions! Who are you? What brings you here?What’s a website that has good content? What do you like about it?
  4. 4. People don’t visit your site to see amazing design.
  5. 5. People don’t visit your sitefor a great user experience.
  6. 6. They want your content.
  7. 7. “Like a gentleman in a finely crafted suitwho wants to burp you the alphabet,even if your website looks nice, no onewill stick around to hear whatyou have to say if you don’tcraft something compelling.” Jason Santa Maria @jasonsantamaria of-content-strategy/
  8. 8. (Note: user experience, design,and the other things that make up your website are also important. This isn’t a contest.)
  9. 9. Content is not a nice-to-have. Content is not an add on. It’s a business asset. It has value.
  10. 10. Because brings you customers, wins you fans,builds you an audiences, and earns you money.
  11. 11. It’s also a lot of work,if you want to do it well.
  12. 12. U.S. Findings: Web Use +Perceptions of Content Credibility
  13. 13. “You are all in publishing!” Jeffrey Zeldman, king of the web
  14. 14. You need to get it right.Enter content strategy.
  15. 15. What is content strategy?
  16. 16. First word: What is content?
  17. 17. “In the web industry, anything that conveys meaningful information to humans is called ‘content.’” Erin Kissane @kissane The Elements of Content Strategy
  18. 18. “Content is contextualized data.” Rahel Bailie @rahelab “A Practical Definition of Content”
  19. 19. “Content is anything an organization or individual creates and shares to tell their story.” Ann Handley @marketingprofs
  20. 20. illustrations images tweetshelp articles navigation words photos audio slideshows interface copy podcasts Facebook posts blog posts infographics comments cartoons video white papers error messages
  21. 21. (It’s not just words.)
  22. 22. Word two: What is strategy?
  23. 23. It’s a plan for getting stuff done in order to achieve a goal.
  24. 24. “Wikipedia’s strategy was creatinga set of rules that got people to generate more than 18 million articles.” Erika Hall @mulegirl
  25. 25. Put ’em together:What is content strategy?
  26. 26. “Content strategy for the web is about bringingeditorial skill and methods into website planning. In order to create good content, you need a plan for how you’re going to get it and keep it coming.” Elizabeth McGuane @emcguane and-content-strategy/
  27. 27. “Content strategy is to copywritingas information architecture is to design.” Rachel Lovinger @rlovinger
  28. 28. “I am a firm believer that content strategy is communication design.” Nicole Jones @nicoleslaw demystifying-content-strategy-part-i-the-term
  29. 29. “Content is story.Content strategy is storytelling.” Prateek Sarkar Director, Creative Services Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
  30. 30. That’s a broad range of answers. Content strategy is a broad field.Practitioners come at it from different perspectives, and tend to specialize.
  31. 31. Where do content strategists come from? From “Apes of Wrath,” a Warner Bros. short.
  32. 32. Is content strategy UX?
  33. 33. You can’t create a great user experience around bad content.
  34. 34. Without content strategy, it breaks down.
  35. 35. There’s overlap.But they’re not the same thing.
  36. 36. “Content strategy helps organizations use content to achieve their business goals.” Melissa Rach @melissarach
  37. 37. “(God help a business if UX isn’t one of their business goals, but helping the userisn’t an inherent part of content strategy).” Melissa Rach @melissarach
  38. 38. It’s not only user experience.
  39. 39. Is content strategy marketing?(Marketers have been very excited to talk content strategy!)
  40. 40. Content strategy vs.content marketing.
  41. 41. Content strategy:The plan. The big picture.
  42. 42. Content marketing: The execution.
  43. 43. Content marketing: Branded content that helps youdifferentiate yourself and make sales. Content that sold gum:
  44. 44. Content strategy is not only user experience. It’s not only marketing.
  45. 45. It’s also data modeling. And product design. And change management. And social media. And editorial. And content management.And information architecture. And content development. And other stuff.
  46. 46. Different content strategists have different specialties.
  47. 47. Front-end content strategyWhat your audience sees andexperiences. It includes:• User experience content strategy• Marketing and editorial content strategy
  48. 48. Back-end content strategy This is how to make the content workwell. It includes:• "Intelligent" content • Content governance and operations
  49. 49. (That breakdown courtesy of Kathy Hanbury.) @kathyhanbury
  50. 50. The benchmark definition:
  51. 51. “Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.” Kristina Halvorson, Content Strategy for the Web
  52. 52. Creation:Who’s providing your content?
  53. 53. Publication:How are you getting your content to users?
  54. 54. Governance:When do you add, update, and archive content?
  55. 55. Useful:How does this content benefit you? How does it benefit your user?
  56. 56. Usable:Can people find, consume, and act on your content?
  57. 57. What makes good content?
  58. 58. “Good content” is in the eye of thebeholder. Ultimately, your users decide.
  59. 59. What are your goals?What is your content supposed to achieve for you?
  60. 60. “There’s really only one central principle of goodcontent: it should be appropriate for yourbusiness, for your users, and for its context.Appropriate in its method of delivery, in its styleand structure, and above all in its substance.” Erin Kissane @kissane The Elements of Content Strategy
  61. 61. Good content is:• Appropriate• Useful• User-centered• Clear• Consistent• Concise• Supported Erin Kissane again. Seriously, read her book.
  62. 62. How do you knowif your content is good? Inventory and audit.
  63. 63. Inventory: What content do we have?
  64. 64. Audit: What content do we need?
  65. 65. The content inventory: The cornerstone of anysuccessful content strategy!
  66. 66. The content inventory
  67. 67. Yes.It really is a massive spreadsheet documenting your entire site.
  68. 68. How do you do a content inventory? Click each link on your site. Document what you find.
  69. 69. Things often tracked in a content inventory: • Page ID/number • URL • Page Title • Parent • Page Description • Components • SEO Information (metadata, keywords) • Who inside the organization owns that content.
  70. 70. The inventory is quantitative. What’s on the site?
  71. 71. Followup: the content audit.That’s qualitative: How good is what you’ve got?
  72. 72. Basic audit: ROT analysis.Look for content that’s: Redundant Outdated or Trivial
  73. 73. More thorough audits can track all kinds of qualities. Is content on brand? Is it clear? Is it meeting customer needs? Is it in a usable format? (There are many possible measures.)
  74. 74. EXERCISE #1:Let’s evaluate some website content.
  75. 75. Step one: Let’s do user analysis on ourselves.
  76. 76. (Note: in the real world, this is a bad idea.)
  77. 77. “We cannot advocate for those whom we do not know— or, even worse, those whom we assume we know.” Corey Vilhauer @mrvilhauer
  78. 78. You’re scoping out a food truck’s website.What content would be useful and usable?
  79. 79. Business goals:Ideally, we’d talk to the business owner. If you owned a food truck, what would you want your website to do for you?
  80. 80. SPLIT INTO TEAMS OF TWOI’ll give each team a food truck’s website.Your job: Perform a quick inventory.How much content is on the site?
  81. 81. And a quick analysis: Is it useful and usable,based on our goals? Check for ROT:redundant, outdated, or trivial content.
  82. 82. WORTH CONSIDERING:Does the content work on mobile?Are they linking to Facebook or Twitter orYelp, and if so, are those up to date?
  83. 83. Spend a half hour on your analysis.Then prepare a quick overview: How’s thesite’s content? What needs fixing?
  84. 84. Present:• Three words that capture the food truck’svoice. What makes it distinct?• Three recommendations for how content(new, deleted, changed) could improve the site.
  85. 85. And we’re back.
  86. 86. So we’ve identified problems.Now what?
  87. 87. Remember the nutshell:1. What content do we have?2. What content do we need?3. Fill the gap: edit, create & curate.
  88. 88. Erin Kissane’s even shorter breakdown:1. Evaluate.2. Design.3. Execute.
  89. 89. One thing to keep in mind:Content strategy is a process. It’s a cycle.It never really ends.
  90. 90. Content strategy is a web design discipline. Content experts should be involvedfrom the beginning of a web design project. (Some would argue “content first.”)
  91. 91. It’s not a perfect world, of course, so that doesn’t always happen.
  92. 92. “The end goal is not great content. It’s a great thing.” Erika Hall @mulegirl From her Confab presentation.
  93. 93. More evaluation tools:
  94. 94. Stakeholder interviews
  95. 95. Talk to everyone involved with thecontent, preferably one-on-one, about what they need and want from the site’s content.
  96. 96. The goal is to get an idea of howcontent works within the organization.
  97. 97. ASK QUESTIONS.(Go with the classics: who, what, when, where, why, and how.)
  98. 98. Who’s supplying the content? Who is the target audience?Who’s maintaining the content?
  99. 99. What content do we need?
  100. 100. When will we publish?
  101. 101. Where will we publish?(Our site, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  102. 102. How will all of this get done?
  103. 103. And a big one, especially in discovery: WHY? Why do we need a blog? Why do we need a Twitter feed? Why aren’t we using a CMS? Etc.
  104. 104. Once you’re done evaluating, it’s time to design.Some tools you might use to do so:
  105. 105. Message Architecture What are your key messages? How are you delivering them?Does your audience believe you?
  106. 106. Your message architecture is independent of form.It’s not a tagline, or a mission statement, or a video. It’s communication goals. Specific terminology.
  107. 107. illustrations images tweetshelp articles navigation words photos audio slideshows interface copy podcasts Facebook posts blog posts infographics comments cartoons video white papers error messages
  108. 108. Editorial Style Guide What’s our tone?Which dictionary do we consult? Do we use the serial comma?
  109. 109. Editorial process Who’s creating our content?How do we decide it’s good enough?How do we evaluate its effectiveness?
  110. 110. Content Template (a.k.a. Page Table) What needs to go on each kind ofpage? Includes both visible and invisible content. Accompanies site map and wireframes. Communication bridge between subject matter experts and writers.
  111. 111. Content Template (example #1)
  112. 112. Content Template (example #2) The Elements of Content Strategy
  113. 113. Content Template(example #2, continued) The Elements of Content Strategy
  114. 114. Editorial Calendar How do we decide when to publish?(Tweet twice a day? Update home page when new products launch? Respond to holidays? Respond to news events? How quickly? Etc.)
  115. 115. There are more tools. content matrices content modelingaccessibility guidelines SEO analysis taxonomy personas competitive analysis wireframes
  116. 116. Not every project requires every tool.
  117. 117. And content strategy is not, ultimately, about learning a particular tool. Thetools help the process, but they’re not the point of the process.
  118. 118. Also, not every project is a site-wideredesign. Content strategy works on a project-by-project basis.
  119. 119. ONE MORE THING ... Governance!How content strategy plays out over time.
  120. 120. “If IA is the spatial side of information,I see content strategy as the temporal side of the same coin.” Louis Rosenfeld @louisrosenfeld
  121. 121. “When I look at where most websites fail, it’s in managing their content over time.” Karen McGrane @karenmcgrane
  122. 122. Consultants and agencies: People want to hear from you!Yay, buy-in! But you don’t get to be there for the long haul.
  123. 123. In-house: Buy in can be a major challenge!But you know the brand and business goals, and you are there for the long haul.
  124. 124. Content strategy is not a quick fix. It’s a long process. One reason content is valuable is because it’smessy, and difficult, and requires a lot of resources.
  125. 125. To keep your content working:Track when content will need to be archived or updated. Use the editorial calendar. Use a rolling audit. Budget time to get that done.
  126. 126. Whatever your approach and yourbackground, learn about the other areas of content strategy.
  127. 127. “It’s about seeing structures through the lens ofmeaning and storytelling, and building relationshipsacross disciplines so that our databases reflect this richness and complexity.” Sara Wachter-Boettcher @sara_ann_marie
  128. 128. “People’s capacity for bullshit is rapidly diminishing. We need to respect people’s time and give them relevant, purposeful content without the extra cruft.” Brad Frost @brad_frost
  129. 129. “We should eliminate distractions for people. If they came to read, turn the lighton and let them read. If they want to learn, give them a quiet place to study. Whateverthey’re after, help them do it in peace. Make it readable, watchable, and hearable—and keep the ads out of the way.” Nicole Jones @nicoleslaw
  130. 130. Content strategy helps make the web a better place.
  131. 131. I’m tired of yammering.I know you’ve got questions. Shoot!
  132. 132. Resources: I’ll post a bibliography and links and stuff on my blog: Come to a meetup with Content Strategy Seattle! the Google Group, or LinkedIn discussion groups. Follow smart people on Twitter.Content strategists are a friendly, helpful group. (I think it’s a job requirement.)
  133. 133. THANK YOURemember to fill out your evaluation. Don’t forget to write. Twitter: @scarequotes