Confab 2011 is happening on May  9-11 right here in Minneapolis! This conference is an incredible opportunity for anyone who views content as a valuable business asset.  If you’re already familiar with content strategy, then perhaps you don’t need to keep reading. Just consider this a helpful heads-up that you don’t want to miss this conference, and you certainly don’t want to miss early registration (the deadline is January 20). See you there!

If you don’t know much about content strategy, or you’re not quite sold on its value, then let me explain why learning as much as possible about it is well worth your time.

Why Should You Care?

Your content plays a large role in the usability and success of your website, and in how people perceive your business. When users encounter content that’s hard to understand, inconsistent, outdated, or rife with marketing-speak that doesn’t provide useful information, they may give up on your site very quickly.

Ensuring your content doesn’t fall into any of these pitfalls is a big, complex job—big and complex enough for a dedicated role, even. It requires planning, constant collaboration with team members, oversight, and continued maintenance. Last-minute copywriting usually doesn’t cut it.

What Is Content Strategy?

Core components of content strategy

In her presentation at An Event Apart, Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic discussed the four key components of content strategy, and described them as follows:

Substance
  • Messaging
  • What content should go on the site and why
  • Relevant to key audiences
  • Actionable
Structure
  • How content is organized on the site
  • Findable
  • Contextual
  • Intuitive categorization
Workflow
  • How content is created, approved, and published
  • Process, tasks, people
Governance
  • Who makes decisions about content
  • Content policies, standards, guidelines
  • Measurement metrics
  • Maintenance guidelines

As you may have gathered, a lot goes in to creating and maintaining effective content. Content strategy plays a collaborative role in nearly every aspect of a design project, and its role continues for as long as your content is in public view. Content strategy addresses not only what the content needs to say and do (content components), but also the process for creating and managing it (people components). Who owns it and sets the standards, and how is the work going to get done? The people/oversight components are often overlooked, but they’re essential for producing consistently great content that really works.

And the Beautiful Result?

When you consider content holistically (the four components described above), the result is content that integrates seamlessly with the structure and design of your site to help guide, inform, persuade, and move to action—in other words, your website will provide users with precisely what they’ve come for: useful, exceptional content that makes their decisions easy.

 So it’s important, right? Right. Ready to register for Confab 2011?