Greetings from SXSW. Instead of telling y’all how nice and balmy and generelly brilliant it is out here, why not talk about Content Strategy?
Right – why not. First one is that one: Understanding Content: The Stuff We Design For. That talk by Rachel Lovinger and Karen McGrane was getting me all interested because I have just worked on a project where, as it turns out, this point did get some, but not all of the attention it deserved.
Now what is this content strategy thing all about? Rachel Lovinger began by telling the fairy tale of a project to build an art gallery where everything was taken into account – the place, how it was supposed to feel, what colours the walls should be painted – everything except…. the art that they were to display there. So: when the artist turned up with their art it kinda didn’t fit the beautiful new gallery that had been built… I.e.: in many porjects the actual content the of the site is often dealt with in the same manner as certain spots in ye olde mappe: you just write „here be dragons“ and be done with it.
Instead you should take your content seriously and make it part of the design process. How?
Start by analyzing your content: what kind of content do you have (images? text? audio? video? comments?… you get the drift) and then thoroughly and mercilessly check for content that is no longer needed.
And then document: what, where, where does it come from (and maybe think about what content to evaluate, if it is just too much). In the talk, they suggested to „put it in a really big spreadsheet (and decide which information to document there – like what, where it’s from and who owns it)“. However you document it – you should be able to cross-reference it and find a way to keep ahead of the untold numbers of content you find. Because the next step is to…
Find out how is it organized and see, if that still makes sense. I.e. is there a reason why exhibit „A“ is where it is – or was there just no other place you could think of to put it. And is there a better way to stack your content?
Next, you should of course analyse other factors such as seo, accessibility, functional requirements and – my I add the output device.
FInally: Asses the Quality of the Content. Ask yourself the question:
– do you have all the content you need
– is it up to date?
– is it communicating clearly?
– is it relevant?
– are tone and style appropriate?
– is it meeting your business needs?
The art with question like these of course is not asking them, but answering them honestly and maybe ask your users that they think about the issues regarding your webpage.
After the talk I was left with the impression that I had just gotten a good run-through of the basics of content strategy. Something to work with. Hope I could relate that.