When it comes to information management or content management strategies, particularly at the enterprise level, there is a strong tendency (and desire) to create long-term plans. This briefing will explore some of the issues encountered when creating and executing long-term plans, and will argue for an approach that delivers benefits on a much more frequent basis.
Usually, the one thing missing from the planning of a WCM-driven web site is what's most likely to shoot the implementation in the foot: the functional design of the CMS back-end. The form and function of how the CMS will work, look and feel for the end-user of the system, not the visitor to the web site, is too often overlooked. This is odd: isn't the rationale for getting a CMS in the first place usually based on some kind of ROI in efficiency in actually producing the content and sites?
Content Management Systems promise so much: content is easier to publish, easier to update, and easier to find and use. Lots of promises, but do CMSs really deliver? Masood Nasser examines why Content Management Systems often fail and shows how Information Architecture can come to the rescue.
If content strategy isn’t in the current budget, though, how do you convince your client to add money for it? Your client might already realize content strategy can help create measurable ROI. If they don’t, help them understand. After all, relevant and informative content is what their audience wants; content strategy assesses the content they have and creates a plan for what they need and how they’ll get it.
There’s really only one central principle of good content: it should be appropriate for your business, for your users, and for its context. Appropriate in its method of delivery, in its style and structure, and above all in its substance. As Erin Kissane explains, content strategy is the practice of determining what each of those things means for your project—and how to get there from where you are now.
Content curation is much easier than content creation, because you don’t have to strain for original thought. Just note something interesting, maybe make a few remarks, and voila, you’re satisfying your hungry audience’s need for information.
The content lifecycle covers four general areas: the strategic analysis, the content collection, management of the content, and publication, which includes post-publication maintenance and a loop back to analysis for the next cycle. This lifecycle is present whether the content is controlled within a content management system or not, whether it gets translated or not, whether it gets deleted at the end of its life or revised and re-used.
The process of publishing content, particularly when it includes content destined for the web, continues to be a mysterious process for corporate stakeholders, and sometimes for those involved in the process of publishing.
Too many organizations take an unprofessional approach to the content they publish on the Web. Many web managers still seem to believe that if they get the technology right the publishing will look after itself. Quality publishing requires skill and discipline. Unfortunately, discipline is something many web teams are lacking.
The content model is one of the most important content strategy tools at your disposal. It allows you to represent content in a way that translates the intention, stakeholder needs, and functional requirements from the user experience design into something that can be built by developers implementing a CMS. A good content model helps ensure that your content vision will become a reality. Lovinger explains how to craft a strong content model and use it to foster communication and align efforts between the UX design, editorial, and technical team members on your project.
As the digital landscape becomes increasingly complex, and as businesses become ever more comfortable using the web to bring their product and audience closer, the techniques and principles of museum curatorship can inform how we create online experiences—particularly when we approach content.
It’s great to have a little 90-second elevator pitch ready to go for those times when you’re invited to talk about what you do (or even when you’re not). It’s also handy to have a version of this speech at the ready when someone outside of your industry, like a family member, asks what you do for a living.
We live in a multi-in, multi-out world. There are so many information pipelines running into, out and around the organisation these days that it’s overwhelming companies the world over. The famous information overload is in stark contrast to an endless pressure to deliver excellent content — quickly and cost effectively.
I’m keenly interested in getting a better handle on content strategy, but it seems to me there’s still much to work out, even among the thought leaders themselves. It’s an exciting time for content and people looking at content strategy as a field. If naysayers speak up, it can only be because content strategy is taking focus off their own game.
Please, please, please could we stop talking about content strategy as if it only applies to the web design professional. The impact of content and user experience go far wider and should be at the heart of everyday marketing practice.
As interactions proliferate, so does the content that supports them. Why should software professionals take a step back and examine their content from a philosophical perch? Rachel Lovinger takes a look at content strategy and the benefits of its perspectives.
Without content, there wouldn’t be content management. The mere fact that our industry decided that we needed a system upon which to keep track of all the words, photos, charts and information that we produce is a clear indication that content is important. Yet, for a lot of companies, content is an afterthought, handled by marketing and legal departments.
Getting even semi-publishable writing from experts is notoriously difficult; they may be immersed in their “real jobs” and too busy to write even a first draft of content, they may not understand why web content matters at all, they may not be fluent in the language(s) in which you publish your website, or they may just be terrible writers. Define a content workflow as early as possible, preferably as part of a unified content strategy that includes a content audit (a detailed analysis of what content you have, what content you need, and how to bridge that gap), voice and tone guidelines, and a schedule for collecting and generating content.
A unified content strategy can help your organization to avoid the Content Silo Trap, reducing the cost of creating, managing, and distributing content, and ensuring that content effectively supports your organizational and customer needs. A unified content strategy is a repeatable method of identifying all content requirements up front, creating consistently structured content for reuse, managing that content in a definitive source, and assembling content on demand to meet your customers' needs.
People are looking for content to help them reach their goals, and you should start any site redevelopment by drawing up a content strategy designed to satisfy the user. We're currently doing this for a couple of our clients, and working through it ourselves now we've finally found the time to revamp our own presence (the cobbler's children and all that).
We, the people who make websites, have been talking for fifteen years about user experience, information architecture, content management systems, coding, metadata, visual design, user research, and all the other disciplines that facilitate our users’ abilities to find and consume content. Weirdly, though, we haven’t been talking about the meat of the matter. We haven’t been talking about the content itself.
Site visitors come to find some sort of content, whether that is persuasive, instructional, or entertainment content. That is the treasure they’re hunting down. The process of finding the content influences the user experience. But, to be clear, ask anyone who has gone on a hunt – from the six-year-old at a birthday party to a site visitor looking for content – and can’t find what they’re looking for: the dissatisfaction becomes palpable.
I've seen dozens of companies waste hundreds of thousands of dollars because they chose their management tools before they had a clear understanding of their business needs, information life cycle and content.
These are exciting times and we have a great opportunity to finally leverage technical communications into the spotlight. The value of information is finally being properly realised, and we are ideally placed to help any organisation make the most of what information they have and help them understand and create the information they really need.