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Building Your Content Strategy Toolkit


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Slidedeck from 4-hour workshop presented at Designing for Digital in Austin, TX on 4/3/17.

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Building Your Content Strategy Toolkit

  1. 1. building your content strategy toolkit tiny Rebecca Blakiston @blakistonr April 3, 2017 all images in this slidedeck are from
  2. 2. follow along: tiny
  3. 3. content it’s why people visit your website
  4. 4. content it’s messy... real messy
  5. 5. content strategy makes content useful, usable, and findable
  6. 6. ● who creates content? ● what is the message? ● who is the audience? ● why do they care? ● how often is it updated? ● when does it go away? ● where does it live? ● how do people find it? ● how do we know it’s useful? ● what does it all mean?? by answering questions like
  7. 7. ● audits ● governance models ● workflows ● style guides ● page tables ● editorial oversight ● standards ● training materials ● documentation ● metadata oversight ● SEO guidelines ● editorial calendars through stuff like
  8. 8. Hello! I’m a nut for content strategy. 2008 hired as an instruction and reference librarian 2010 became our first website product manager 2011 completed a massive content audit, created editorial standards 2012 deleted 200 pages off our main website 2013 implemented new roles, responsibilities, and workflows for content hired a full-time, temporary content strategist 2014 deleted another 100 pages off our main site, created a permanent content strategist position 2015 oversaw new standards for LibGuides, database descriptions, and more 2016 appointed head of Web Design & User Experience (6 FTE team)
  9. 9. I like to talk and write about it. 2012 Presented poster, “Is Your Content Useful, Usable, and Findable? Developing a Content Strategy for an Academic Library Website” at ALA Annual Presented “Too Many Cooks in the Web Kitchen? A Successful Case of Herding Cats to Improve the User Experience” at edUi 2013 Wrote “Developing a Content Strategy for an Academic Library Website” in the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship. 2014 Presented “Content Strategy in Action: Taming a 5,000 page Frankensite” at edUi 2015 Presented “Content Strategy for Library Websites” at Designing for Digital and Florida Library Webinars Presented “Content Strategy” at Library Journal’s Digital UX online conference Co-Wrote “How We Hired a Content Strategist (And Why You Should Too)” in the Journal of Web Librarianship 2016 Presented, “There’s No Time for That! Content Strategy for Naysayers” at edUi 2017 Wrote, Writing Effectively in Print and On the Web: A Practical Guide for Librarians
  10. 10. ● what is your role and where? ● why did you pick this workshop? ● what project do you have in mind for today’s activities? Your turn. Tell someone next to you:
  11. 11. get familiar with tools learn from one another practice, practice, practice goals of this workshop
  12. 12. part 1: auditing part 2: analyzing part 3: strategizing part 4: sustaining today we’ll build a toolkit
  13. 13. ● interrupt me ● recognize bad content, but be respectful to people involved ● Tweet (#d4d17 @blakistonr) ● do what’s most useful for you ● learn ● have fun “rules”
  14. 14. part 1: audit By getting a handle on what we currently have, we can better plan how to manage content now and into the future.
  15. 15. a spreadsheet is your new best friend
  16. 16. discover content using ● navigation ● site search ● your CMS ● web analytics ● web crawlers ● content inventory tools
  17. 17. best done by humans who know their stuff and are invested in the user experience
  18. 18. capture quantitative data ● page title ● URL ● where it lives in the architecture ● # of page views (or other analytics data) ● number of broken links ● last updated date
  19. 19. tracking the IA Page ID URL 1.0 1.1 1.1.1 1.1.2 1.2 1.3 2.0 2.1.1
  20. 20. ● relevance of content ● quality of writing ● formatting issues ● usability issues ● accessibility issues ● priority capture qualitative data
  21. 21. capture other things that might be helpful ● content editor ● content provider ● target audience ● metadescription ● key message(s) ● type of content (e.g. video, documents, images)
  22. 22. to evaluate use tools like ● analytics data ● broken link checkers ● spell checkers ● grammar checkers ● readability scores ● personas ● your judgment
  23. 23. example checking for broken links
  24. 24. example checking for accessibility
  25. 25. go big or go home Maybe you want to audit your entire website and learn all the things. That’s cool. Just know what you’re getting yourself into.
  26. 26. example The big audit
  27. 27. example The big audit
  28. 28. example The big audit
  29. 29. this can take serious time
  30. 30. pick a focus auditing for a specific project, to reach certain goals
  31. 31. example usage and currency of subject guides
  32. 32. example Health Sciences LibGuides
  33. 33. example end-of-year course guide analysis
  34. 34. example analysis of PDFs
  35. 35. example news content analysis
  36. 36. example Facebook engagement analysis
  37. 37. A sample of some of the strange, embarrassing, and annoying things that we’ve found...
  38. 38. example raw code on a web page - oops!
  39. 39. example very old conference websites
  40. 40. Example of outdated junk? example a whole website that never went away!
  41. 41. your turn make a spreadsheet and start an audit > Audit activity
  42. 42. time to share how did it go? what did you find out?
  43. 43. break time
  44. 44. part 2: analysis By analyzing our environment and defining our objectives, we can set a strategic foundation for the future.
  45. 45. what is the whole point? library’s mission/vision audience & goals
  46. 46. who is your audience? undergrad students grad or PhD students teaching faculty research faculty library staff potential donors visitors
  47. 47. What is your organization trying to achieve with your website content?
  48. 48. align with your strategic plan
  49. 49. ● Direct users to scholarly resources, library hours, services, and more ● Promote the library’s place on campus, highlighting library services, collections, and events while also supporting fundraising ● Positively influence students’ opinions of the library and the quality of education they are receiving ● Positively influence the opinion of donors and alumni example website goals
  50. 50. map content to org goals
  51. 51. What do your users want and need from your content?
  52. 52. ● conduct research ● find information about the libraries ● find library materials, including books, journals, and articles ● access content from their phones example user goals
  53. 53. map content to user goals
  54. 54. write a core strategy statement for your site “The University of Arizona Libraries website is reliable, easy to use, and accurate. It exemplifies the principles of user-centered design, and users consistently and readily find what they need. It advances our goals of discovery, information access, and quality customer service.”
  55. 55. review current processes how does content happen?
  56. 56. Who creates new web pages, and how? Who updates web pages? Who deletes web pages? identify who does what
  57. 57. Who is most invested in your content? Who might help you champion content strategy? Who might be your biggest skeptic? identify who cares
  58. 58. What training is provided? What are the expectations? Is there a system of accountability? What workflows exist? Is there documentation? identify processes in place
  59. 59. How many web pages were created in the past year? How many pages were archived or deleted? How often are web pages usually updated? How is this information tracked? find out what the content lifecycle looks like
  60. 60. it’s now time... what you are going to do? what direction are you going to take?
  61. 61. define the scope of what you want to tackle website(s)? standalone applications? third party tools (e.g. LibGuides, Illiad)? social media?
  62. 62. example defining scope in scope out of scope ● main library website ● mobile website ● LibGuides ● library hours application ● staff directory application ● social media channels ● Special Collections website ● University Press website ● databases ● catalog
  63. 63. outline any assumptions about roles, decision-making, communication Are you assuming that… ● there will be a content review process? ● you’ll be deleting content? ● permissions related to content will change?
  64. 64. recognize any risks to stakeholders, users, resourcing, and timeline Strategize on how to minimize risks.
  65. 65. your turn define current roles and responsibilities > Analysis activity
  66. 66. discuss in small groups what did you come up with? what will be your biggest challenges?
  67. 67. break time
  68. 68. part 3: strategy By establishing roles, responsibilities, and workflows, we’ll ensure our content is useful, usable, and findable.
  69. 69. get the right people in the room decision makers and influencers
  70. 70. content champions recruit content champions
  71. 71. Put someone in charge. Oversight is key to successful content governance.
  72. 72. determine who should be doing what
  73. 73. example defining roles role responsibility content requestor requests new content, content edits, or content deletions content provider provides subject matter expertise content manager edits, improves, and manages content content reviewer reviews content before publication
  74. 74. example using the RACI model
  75. 75. create a clearly defined role for people who will be managing content
  76. 76. good content managers... ● understand the goals of the content ● write with clarity and precision ● focus on the user experience ● learn from critique ● enjoy new challenges
  77. 77. ● stay aware of policies, procedures, standards, and workflows ● ensure all content meets standards and follow standards for new content ● review all content regularly, no less than once every six months ● keep content inventory up-to-date ● participate in monthly content manager meetings ● attend required trainings ● respond to feedback or requests example content manager expectations
  78. 78. assign content to people
  79. 79. make it formal, if you can
  80. 80. example goal included in annual performance reviews
  81. 81. partner with colleagues ● focus on shared goals ● listen before you talk ● practice patience and empathy
  82. 82. ● web writing ● standards and style ● workflows ● analytics organize trainings
  83. 83. web writing fundamentals
  84. 84. things to avoid ● passive voice ● jargon ● long sentences ● too many nouns in a row ● walls of text ● inconsistencies ● redundancies ● complexities ● ALL CAPS, underlines, italics
  85. 85. example boring headings, passive voice, policy-driven
  86. 86. example policy-driven, over-complicated walls text
  87. 87. things to shoot for ● approachability ● active voice ● plain language ● inverted pyramid (key messages first) ● skimmable, parallel headings ● tables for related content ● bullets for lists of items ● numbered lists for instructions ● plenty of white space ● one space after punctuation, not two!
  88. 88. example active, parallel headings
  89. 89. before after example making policies nicer
  90. 90. questions about writing for the web? learn more here!
  91. 91. create workflows that make sense
  92. 92. example workflow for creating a page 1. provider talks to content manager 2. content manager talks to content strategist 3. content strategist creates page 5. content strategist publishes page 4. provider and manager review the page
  93. 93. example workflow for deleting a page 1. content manager determines page should be deleted 2. content manager talks with stakeholders 3. content manager removes or updates all internal links 5. publisher deletes page 4. content manager sends deletion request to publisher
  94. 94. example workflow for updating content 1. content manager makes updates 2. if significant, content manager notifies content strategist 3. content strategist reviews updates 4. content manager shares updates at monthly meeting
  95. 95. create a style guide ● voice & tone ● terminology ● standards ● proper use of titles, headings, lists, links, and tables We got style.
  96. 96. example word list for consistency
  97. 97. example standards for headings
  98. 98. example voice and tone (Mail Chimp)
  99. 99. example training & style guide for LibGuides
  100. 100. ● in-person meetings ● email lists ● shared learning ● Slack communicate often
  101. 101. other tools for strategizing and collaborating
  102. 102. build on the inventory format
  103. 103. example add recommendations for deleting/keeping
  104. 104. example create a content outline
  105. 105. example create a content outline
  106. 106. example plan out content structure and metadata
  107. 107. generate ideas through structured brainstorming
  108. 108. example categorizing content using a card sort
  109. 109. example identify key messages and calls to action
  110. 110. discuss in small groups what will be key elements to your strategy?
  111. 111. your turn draft voice and tone guidelines > Strategy activity
  112. 112. break time
  113. 113. part 4: sustain By planning ahead, we’ll ensure our content strategy outlasts the current moment. We’ll be ready for tomorrow’s challenges.
  114. 114. have a seat at the table marketing, communications, administration, shared governance
  115. 115. remember that staff are users, too
  116. 116. Elle Berry I use the library website to find answers to customer’s reference questions, find contact information for other library staff, and answer questions via email and chat. example staff persona
  117. 117. example user stories reflecting the content manager experience
  118. 118. use tech to help
  119. 119. customize your wysiwyg ● no underlining ● no centering ● no customizing font ● no indenting ● no inline styling ● only H2 and H3
  120. 120. set different permissions role permissions administrators all web managers create pages, delete pages content managers edit pages library staff view unpublished pages
  121. 121. use safety nets ● revision history ● version control
  122. 122. create stuff you can reuse
  123. 123. example content planning template
  124. 124. give help at the point of need
  125. 125. look at the user journey
  126. 126. example persona-driven scenarios to guide content
  127. 127. example sketching user journey for borrowing tech
  128. 128. ● social media ● print brochures ● digital signage think outside the website ● email notices ● newsletters ● native apps
  129. 129. consistent terminology across Facebook, Twitter, and the website
  130. 130. recruit student workers, interns, and volunteers
  131. 131. build trust ● respond to concerns ● follow through ● listen first, then talk ● be flexible ● aim for group decision making
  132. 132. communicate! broadly authentically strategically thoughtfully
  133. 133. expand and adapt your practices
  134. 134. your turn customize a content planning template > Sustaining activity
  135. 135. time to share what did you come up with? what is your biggest challenge sustaining a content strategy?
  136. 136. final thoughts This stuff is hard. So let’s talk about how to stay motivated and not lose your mind.
  137. 137. this is overwhelming! get started with some quick wins
  138. 138. tweak some microcopy
  139. 139. create a basic style guide ❏ never underline ❏ never use ALL CAPS ❏ use “we” instead of “The Library” ❏ use “you” instead of “patrons” ❏ lowercase “interlibrary loan” ❏ other little things that bug you
  140. 140. focus on stuff with the biggest impact primary tasks, primary audience
  141. 141. prioritize, compromise, and practice patient persistence pick your battles
  142. 142. celebrate small wins