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Content strategy

Content strategy is the practice of planning for content creation, delivery, and governance. (source: Wikipedia)

An uneven history of content strategy

A useful retrospective and curated overview of significant people, events, and publications on content strategy.

“Content strategy has been around longer than most people think. It has, like so many other fields of practice, been called by different names, and has evolved along with the enabling technologies. Digging into the history of the manipulation, management, and governance of content takes us down several paths that converged to become what we know today as content strategy.”

Rahel Anne Bailie a.k.a. /rahelannebailie | @rahelab

Content strategy is a design function

Finally are we getting somewhere with design and content (‘Writing is a Design Discipline’).

Throughout my career, I’ve seen content strategy operate in a wide variety of ways. Sometimes it’s explicitly called strategy. Other times not. At some businesses, it’s highly valued. At others, it’s outsourced. Sometimes it’s run as a part of a larger line-of-business or integrated marketing team. Other times it’s wrapped into the design organisation. In many of these situations, content strategy can thrive. But across the board, in my experience, the companies that are successful in creating content-led experiences that deliver real value to their customers are the ones that see content strategy as a design function, not a management function.”

Matthew Rayback a.k.a. /matthew-rayback ~ Digital Drum

Content: The design system element you forgot

Content, the orphan of design as always. We used to call it information, that helped.

“​Content and design are parallel, intertwined communication systems. They are fundamentally dependent on each other for successful outcomes. (…) Content and design can integrate right down to having repeatable variants and data references within design tokens. It’s entirely possible to integrate that deeply, and scale up content rapidly. So I don’t buy the arguments put forward so far that content doesn’t scale, or that it should be an afterthought.”

Kate Kenyon a.k.a. /katekenyon

Content-first for a better user experience

The content experience as a result of content design.

“​This is a people problem. We have all the tools we need. Too many, in fact. Go back to pencil and paper. Sticky notes and whiteboards. Don’t wait for the perfect time or the perfect project. They won’t happen. Figure out what you can do tomorrow – or today – to start the shift to a content-first process. Don’t wait to be asked. No one is going to ask you to do this. Make it happen. When you do, everyone is happy.”

Carrie Hane a.k.a. /carriehane | @carriehd ~ Tanzen

UX writing and content strategy: What is the difference?

Just a matter of abstraction and focus.

“In this article, we explore how UX writing compares to content strategy. Since many are confused a bit about how UX writing fits in with content strategy, we compare the two fields and see how your business can use both of them to build an online presence and improve customer experience with digital products.”

Bridgette Hernandez ~ UXPA Magazine

Making things real: Content strategy for realistic content management

CMS, a software tool for content UX forgot. Hence, the authoring experience.

“Understanding how the CMS will handle our foundational pieces means we build a stronger site, one that’s easier to adapt. And being able to communicate how the CMS will handle things is foundational to getting past the big dream and into a more solid reality.”

Corey Vilhauer a.k.a. /mrvilhauer | @mrvilhauer ~ Eating elephant

Chatbox UX: Crafting a valuable conversation

Is a chatbot UX the prototypical application of UX writing?

“All chatbots are not created equal. What separates a good chatbot from a bad one? A good chatbot helps users accomplish something more efficiently. A great one makes it enjoyable. A bad bot wastes time, returns nonsense, and may annoy or frustrate users enough to drive them away.”

Jennifer Leigh Brown a.k.a. /jleighbrown | @jennleighbrown ~ UXbooth

Thinking beyond the interface

‘Insert crappy content here’. Filling empty boxes and minds with content. The Nurnberg Funnel.

“Designers have largely shifted their skill sets toward interface design, prototyping, and code. Are writing and art direction getting left behind? (…) But with designers increasingly focused on the interface, a fundamental problem has emerged. The emphasis becomes the design of the frame, and the content takes a backseat — an easily exchangeable placeholder that can be replaced with more or less anything. Layouts become filled with gray boxes and fake headlines.”

Paul Woods a.k.a. /paulthedesigner | @paulillustrator ~ FastCoDesign

What is the User Experience of content?

UX is the outcome, interacting with content.

“Good UX is all about getting out of the user’s way. A successful ecommerce site makes it phenomenally easy to shop, deeply evaluate, and compare products. The best sites let the audience do these things without even paying attention to how they get from product description to comparison chart to category page. Good content is about the same thing. The best content doesn’t draw attention to itself, but focuses instead on its subject matter–the information you as a marketer want to impart. Good UX is also about knowing what your user wants. Do the work up front (or have an agency do it) to figure out what your user wants, what they would ask if you were standing face to face. Don’t be afraid to ask the question, ‘Did you find everything you needed today?” in whatever form you can. Pay attention to the details of all your content. Improve what you have first, identify the gaps, then start knocking them out one step at a time.”

Augustin Kendall a.k.a. /augustinkendall ~ Portent courtesy of petermorville

Content-First Prototyping

Digital material, language for humans and machines. Human language equals content.

“Content is the core commodity of the digital economy. It is the gold we fashion into luxury experience, the diamond we encase in loyalty programs and upsells. Yet, as designers, we often plug it in after the fact. We prototype our interaction and visual design to exhaustion, but accept that the ‘real words’ can just be dropped in later. There is a better way.”

Andy Fitzgerald a.k.a. /andyfitzgerald | @andybywire ~ Smashing Magazine

Content strategy in service design

The content layer of the customer journey map, sort of.

“We live in a service economy with evolving liquid expectations. Content is a fundamental component of how users engage with a service, and content strategy is the mechanism that enables that service experience to be delivered holistically and consistently across all touchpoints.”

Jennifer McCutchen a.k.a. /jennifermccutchen | @jenmccutchen ~ Fjord

Measuring your ‘Return on Content’: How to tell whether your content is successful

Be conservative in what you publish, be liberal in what you read.

“Even if your organization doesn’t produce anything close to that kind of volume, it’s wise to ask yourself an important question: Is all this content working? This article lays out how to answer that question for the content you have now and ensure that, going forward, your future content is positioned to succeed.”

Hilary Marsh a.k.a. /hilarymarsh | @hilarymarsh ~ Content Company

Seven UX principles to include in your content that will hook readers

The magical number 7, for text only.

“(…) treating your content like a startup. This is something I’ve always been sure to do, and intend on doing it for my new book too. But that’s a product I intend to sell. Oftentimes we neglect the content that takes care of our marketing goals by confining it to a limited framework. When you treat your content as a product, instead of “just” a piece of content, you give it the attention and worth it deserves. And just like products, the user experience of your content matters just as much as the value you deliver within it.”

Tom Whatley a.k.a. /thetomwhatley | @thetomwhatley ~ Content Marketer

Meeting your mission: A user-centered approach to content strategy

Content, the UX material we work with. And code of course.

“The most common mistake by organizations designing a website, app, or other digital product is breaking the number one rule of human-centered design: put content where users are most likely to look for it. Instead, mission-driven organizations, in particular, such as government agencies and nonprofits, muddle the execution of their design as they struggle to promote their message and meet the needs of stakeholders.”

Nikki Kerber a.k.a. /nrkerber | @SocialWebNerd and Rachel Weatherly a.k.a. /rdweatherly ~ UXPA Magazine

Figuring out content strategy

Better this realization now than never.

“The biggest change in my understanding of design after joining Capital One, by far, is how I understand the importance and nature of content strategy in my design work. It just makes logical sense that when someone interacts with something you’ve designed, a lot of what they see and what colors their understanding of the experience as a whole is word-based! I honestly can’t understand how I’ve gone as long as I have without really digging into content strategy; it just seems so obvious now. This realization was made a lot easier through the similarities between how Adaptive Path thinks about design and how our director of content strategy, Steph Hay and her team think about content. They aren’t lone poets just winging it; it’s actually a very rigorous process around understanding the purpose and context of the product, and using natural language. Because of these similarities, our methodologies around generative research and non-arbitrary design decisions work together seamlessly.”

Scott Sullivan a.k.a. /scottsullivanli | @scotsullivan ~ Adaptive Path

Designing future-friendly content: Modeling structure for every user interface

Applying a systematic modeling approach to content is half the work.

“Design is about relationships. Whether digital, print, or physical artifacts, designers manage and structure the relationship between form, material, and content. As UX designers, we manage the relationships of content, navigation, and user journeys within the confines of a user interface. Increasingly, the content we want to publish must exist across many interfaces at once and be ready for platforms and devices yet to come. We need a way of making our content ready for anything the future will bring.”

Mike Atherton a.k.a. @mikeatherton | Carrie Hane a.k.a. @carriehd ~ UXPA Magazine

Stop admiring the problem: Getting traction with your content strategy

Forgetting your content at a strategic level is a major UX sin.

“Kristina Halvorson, one of the pioneers of the content strategy movement, once wrote that content strategy is essentially content planning, or not treating content as an afterthought. Most of the time at the large corporations in which I’ve worked, working on projects first involves mapping out an experience based on business requirements and what IT can support, then garnishing that experience with piecemeal content: a product description here, a headline there; intro copy for one page, a button label for another. Done and done. The problem with that approach is that it creates a disjointed narrative that’s not really focused on dealing with real customer needs. So how do you know what your customers really need? How can you be sure your content is prioritized appropriately? How do you know how much content is too much, and how much isn’t enough? Our organization had always addressed design from a customer perspective. Now it was time to focus on how to use content strategy to enrich our content and make it more customer-centric.”

Kelly Turner a.k.a. /kelly-turner | @KellyRTurner ~ UXPA Magazine

Bridging the gap between content and design

Words and numbers as design material.

“Everything around us is designed on some level. There are decisions made about both the function and the form. This does not mean that everything is good design and that everyone should be a designer – just as every piece of content is not good content and everyone should not become a content manager or copywriter.”

Renata Barros a.k.a. /renatabarros | @rjmbarros ~ Gather Content