Confab Europe: The Cure for Content Depression

logo-smallConfab Europe effectively cured me of a content depression. It was the first time I’ve felt less than enthused about my work. I needed inspiration, something to boost me out of this slump. Once I sat down to work I still lit up with ideas and excitement, but given the choice these past few weeks, I’d rather read or knit than work. That’s unusual for me.

Confab Europe is the doctor that diagnosed and prescribed a cure for me. It took the form of two days of great talks and wonderfully geeky content-filled conversations.

My Struggle

Here are the symptoms I had when I arrived at Confab Europe:

  • Frustration with clients who don’t “get” content strategy, and wanted a copywriter.
  • Malaise caused by large “old school” companies and their slow processes.
  • Lack of inspiration, feeling all the content in the world has already been created.
  • Forgetting how to move from the vague “good strategy” into the details that improve content (and experience).
  • Feeling isolated from UX, and doubt that content contributes to UX.

In a nutshell, I was bogged down. I stopped taking initiative, stopped championing content strategy, and doubted the value of my work. Luckily, the content strategy fairy heard my wish for a cure. Enter Confab Europe.

The Cure: Confab Europe

In Tolstoy’s time it was popular for the wealthy to “take the cure” in restorative waters (i.e. spas). It cured anything from consumption to heartbreak. I traveled to Barcelona to take the cure, and immersed myself in the restorative waters of Confab. If you share my symptoms, never fear – I live blogged every speaker’s presentations, and their slides are available on Slideshare. Here are a few I recommend.

For Frustration with Clients

Are you frustrated with clients who don’t “get” content strategy? Go back to basics with Kristina Halvorson’s keynote, “Content/Communication.” Kristina reminds us how to define content strategy, and why every client needs it. Her clarity taught many of us (including me) what it meant to be a content strategist, and we can use her lessons to bring our clients into the fold.

For Malaise

Do you experience malaise when working with large “old school” companies? Take a dose of Kate Kenyon’s talk, “Bringing new content thinking to old-world companies.” Kate digs into why this is such a tough type of company to work with. She talks specifically about how a content strategist can dig in and COMMUNICATE! with the client.

For Lack of Inspiration

Do you feel like all content has already been created? Take two tablespoons of Frances Gordon’s “Legal content as part of the user experience.” Frances gets at one area that we’ve barely touched on: legal content. She reminded me that all content – even the stuff that already exists – needs love and care.

For Vagueness 

Are you feeling like strategy is too vague? Prescribe yourself Gerry McGovern’s keynote, “Key principles for creating useful self-service content.” Gerry’s stories are insightful. His detailed explanation of a specific type of content helps us all identify details in our strategies. If symptoms persist, also apply Kate Thomas’s talk, “10 steps to salvation: creating a digital governance that works.” She lays out the details we’re looking for.

When Doubting if Content Matters

In doubt that content contributes to UX? Look to Tizzy Asher’s talk, “Think/Feel/Do: a framework for facilitating content strategy conversations.” Tizzy identified one very UX-based activity that improves every area of content strategy. She makes the connections between content and the experience, which we should all be living.

Apply twice daily

I’m now back home, refreshed and reinvigorated for my clients. Don’t forget to check out the slides from these great talks (and the many other excellent talks at Confab Europe), available on the Confab site.

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