It’s been almost two years since Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Girls Write Now Awards Speech, and yet in the current political climate it’s getting some much-needed press. Today, I’m sharing it both because I think it’s a valuable lesson, and because I want to drive home an important point: the difference between a person and a brand.
Forget about likability
Here’s a transcript of part of Adichie’s speech: Continue Reading
Tree testing and its related research activity, the card sort, are often the first research lines of defense for content strategists. We love seeing what people who might use a site or app think about terminology, hierarchy, and categorization. But sadly, I’ve been in many a research phase where we looked at the results and said “wait – was that a problem because we used the wrong words?” or “Did they put those together because of how we phrased them or what they associate with that term?” or even “You thought that card meant that? I always use that term for this… what were our participants using it to mean?”
This is the hidden danger in card sorting: confusing the search for terminology with the search for organization. Continue Reading
In the February 19th closing Broadway performance of Chicago, the female lead playing Roxie Hart broke character. Personally, I’ve seen actors break on occasion, due to a prop malfunction or an audience interruption. It’s not funny, the way it is when SNL cast members break – in fact, it upsets the context and fluidity of the show.
What made this moment unique is that it was pre-planned and purposeful. Mel B, the former Spice Girl playing Roxie Hart, stopped mid-scene to sing a line from the Spice Girl’s hit song Wannabe. The audience cheered, the show went on, and plenty of press and Broadway regulars weighed in. Most agreed that the break was unnecessary, unwarranted, and unprofessional.
Don’t let your website break character Continue Reading
“Triggered” might just be the word of the year. It’s showing up in political discussions, on college campuses, in relation to gender equality, rape culture, military history, suicidal fears, domestic abuse, racial slurs, sexual abuse, and the list goes on.
Generally speaking, we read it referred to for two reasons:
- People defending the right to free speech without worrying about who they might “trigger”
- People requesting a safe space where they will experience no “triggers”
These responses seem to assume that triggers are static things that people are impacted by, or that they make up. But a trigger isn’t always a word or phrase that defies political correctness. It’s not always a joke in poor taste, or something said to shock. For content strategists working in healthcare, triggers are associations that impact patients’ ability to care for themselves. Continue Reading
“There exists a new upper class that’s completely disconnected from the average white American and American culture at large, argues Charles Murray, a libertarian political scientist and author.” -Do You Live in a Bubble? (PBS)
I live in a bubble. I have a career I chose and love, friends who are informed and enjoy political discussions but are generally liberal and left-leaning, and I have always been lucky enough to have family that could help me out if I took a risk and needed financial support. I have had my share of struggles, but finances have not been one of them. I have fought for many things and endured tough times, but I have also had opportunities to travel and take on internships. I have always had a safety net. Continue Reading
Every winter I’m surprised to see who comes out in defense of “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays.” This year, a Facebook meme helpfully summarized how many people feel.
But words have meaning. Merry Christmas means enjoy celebrating one specific holiday, much like saying Happy Birthday, or Happy New Year, or Happy Hannukah. I wouldn’t wish you a Happy Birthday on a random Tuesday – it just wouldn’t make sense.
From a communication perspective, the difference between Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays isn’t about political correctness. It’s about common sense! If you’re not sure what holiday someone might celebrate, go for a blanket “Happy Holidays.” If you know they celebrate Christmas, go for Merry Christmas. And if it’s their birthday, then wish them a Happy Birthday.
Happy Holidays, Content Strategy Style!
Last year, the team at Gather Content gave a wonderful holiday present to the content strategy community: an advent calendar, with a new, 5 minute video each day from a content strategist offering advice.
This year they’ve continued the tradition, and I’m excited to share my contribution.
Day #10: Using journey mapping to create a successful content strategy
If you’re a content strategist, you have likely heard a lot about the importance of being part of designing and customizing content management systems. But if you’re a developer, you may not have the same perspective.
On a recent project, I witnessed this firsthand. While I made a point of creating content templates, identifying content types, and designing governance practices with an eventual CMS customization in mind, the (external) development team was not prepared for the same level of collaboration. They looked at my deliverables as options, and when my ideas didn’t fit, rather than open a discussion they unilaterally made decisions. Unfortunately, the result was a CMS that didn’t fit the content needs or the editorial team’s abilities.
At this year’s CS Forum in Melbourne, Rachel Lovinger gave a brilliant talk about 10 (well, 8) things she has learned in 10 years as a content strategist. It inspired me to consider what we know as content strategists, as compared to what our users (particularly the editorials teams) know.
Rachel stressed the importance of author experience, explaining how necessary structured content is, in order to have easily findable, and thus usable content. She went over the basics of structured content, reminding us that it needs to:
- Be stored separately from any display infrmation
- Have content types identified
- Be stored in discrete, manageable chunks
All of this is very important to us, as content strategists. But I suddenly remembered a client who told me how frustrated she was to work with Oracle, where she needed to build “links” and “assets” that could then be pulled into “sections” that could then be pulled into “pages.”
Our authors don’t care if their content is structured. Continue Reading
I was biking with a friend over the summer, on a back road with no traffic. We took advantage of the empty road, biking side by side in the lane – according to Massachusetts state law, on roads without a bike lane we are able to take up the full lane, but we wouldn’t typically do that at a busier time of day, out of safety concerns.
As we came back towards a more populated area, we stopped at a stop light. Suddenly, as a car approached us from behind, there was a loud, angry HONK. We both jumped, and quickly moved to the side, feeling that mix of shame and defensiveness that comes from being honked at. But as the driver passed, she waved to us in a friendly way. Her honk had only meant to let us know she was there, not intending to reprimand us for being in the road. Continue Reading