On Thursday night, 11/11, Clockwork hosted the monthly meeting of the Usability Professionals’ Association – MN Chapter. In addition to it being the monthly event, it was also World Usability Day – a day set apart to promote the field dedicated to making things easy to use. This year’s topic was “Communication” – and who better to hear about communication from than a well-respected leader in this field, Kristina Halvorson. Kristina spoke on what she’s passionate about: “The Real Deal: Content Strategy.”
When we think about content for our websites, Kristina discussed some things that are essential to consider:
- If the content on your website is bad, your users’ experience on the site is going to be equally bad.
- People don’t go to websites to look at beautiful design. Even though that’s part of the whole experience, they go to websites to get information (content) that they’re looking for.
- You must continuously be asking “Why?” If a client wants to do something or have a particular piece of content – ask why. Question how this content will help them reach their business goals.
Content + Strategy = Content Strategy
- Content is more than just website copy. It’s also alt tags, error messages, metadata, images and much more.
- Strategy is a plan for obtaining a specific goal or result.
View your content as a critical business asset that can significantly impact your organization. Strategically consider your content in the process and often throughout.
It’s so easy to talk about the “what.” What are the features of the site? What emails need to be written? But just as important are answering questions like
- Why? Why do we need this content?
- How? How will we get this content?
- For whom? Who is this content for?
- By whom? Who will maintain the content in the future?
- How often? How often should content be updated?
The Four Parts of Content Strategy
When determining the substance of your content, the most important thing is to consider who your audience is and what they need. Then determine how your content should sound and feel.
Creating good structure, also called “Information Architecture,” is important so that users are able to find the content they need. First consider how the content will be accessed and what technical constraints there may be. Then use this information to organize the content appropriately for your audience.
The job of a content strategist is not done when the content and structure are created. Determining workflow will help figure out who is doing what and how tasks will be completed. Who will manage content? What is the process for creating content? What tools will be used to manage content? How often should content be updated? These are all questions determined during the workflow stage.
Governance ensures that your content remains effective and up-to-date in the future. Who will own decisions about content strategy going forward? How often will content be reviewed for needed changes?
Don’t forget to keep asking the big question – “WHY?” Just because something is shiny and new and the competition is doing it, doesn’t make it right. Continue to uncover the reasons for using specific strategies.