One of the best questions to get to know a fellow UX-er is “what was your major?” The answers are often unexpected, and tell you more about the person you’re speaking with, as well as more about the field of UX.
My answer, of course, is theater. For most people, this sounds like the exception to the rule. But there is no content strategy major. Not even a major that “most” content strategists studied in college.
Everyone finds their own way to UX. My story is just one example, one possible journey. Continue Reading
10 things I learned in 10 years as a Content Strategist, by Rachel Lovinger
- Everything is content. It’s not just copy, it’s metadata, and medium. “The Medium is the Message” – Marshall McLuhan It’s the IA, the breakdown, etc.
- Content is communication. Traditional media was a broadcast communication model. You just hope the message was received. In digital media, there’s more flow. We share media, they respond. It’s multidirectional communication.
- Content strategy is concerned with content systems. “Content strategy is to writing as IA is to design” – that’s useful to those of us who understand it. For everyone else, content strategists build a framework for everyone to be able to work with content.
- Author experience is critical to content strategy. Authors are internal users, but we still need to think about them. If we don’t, the content won’t (can’t) be maintained. We need to give them intuitive tools that they will understand.
- Content needs to be structured. Display information needs to be separate from content types and attributes.
- Intelligent content needs metadata. There are 2 distinct focuses within content strategy: front end, and back end. What makes it content strategy (and not just publishing) is that content decisions are tied to bigger strategic initiatives and measurable goals.
- Content strategy isn’t a practice, it’s a methodology. You might work in science, but you’re a specific type of science. Similarly, there are all sorts of jobs/roles that use content strategy.
- We’re still young. There’s a lot of uncharted territory – we need people who can do all of the many things.
It’s not a technology problem, by Leisa Reichelt
Leisa works in government. It can feel like being a thousand monkeys on typewriters, but it’s for a good purpose.
“Be clear about what you’re doing. The reason is unlikely to be ‘transformation.’” -Kate Tarling
“Far too many people claim they’re doing ‘transformation’ when they’re merely doing the same things faster/cheaper.” -Dr. Jerry Fishenden
Doing the same thing faster/cheaper isn’t a bad thing. But it isn’t transformation. It’s possible that no government is doing transformation. It gets blocked, because business and IT would have to be aligned on the priorities. Transformation is way too much work for those two groups.
Real transformation is risky. Changing institutions is disruptive. It could result in people not getting paid, not being able to take care of their kids, etc. The risks when working in government are HUGE. So it’s valid that gov’t groups as: “why would we do this to ourselves?” Continue Reading
Content as Connection, by Hilary Marsh
Our organizations are in the content business, but we don’t necessarily know that that’s what we do. We create content all day, no matter what we’re doing. The content we produce might show up in the world in ways we’re not expecting.
We want our content to make a direct connection, and help us take action.
Content is the way our work is manifested in the world. Everything your organization does is your content – not just marketing, not just purposeful storytelling. Content is the way our organizations connect with our audiences. We need to help make sure the content doesn’t look half-baked.
The better we can show the relationship and the value of what we do, the better off we’re going to be. The question to ask is not “what do we have that they want” but instead “what are they looking for, that we have?” Continue Reading
Opening Keynote, by Kristina Halvorson
We come to content strategy from many different paths, but we do have some things in common.
Kristina began in 2004. She was a web copywriter, and she remembers watching her first usability test and seeing people interacting with, using, looking for content. This is when people would do content last, with no budget, after doing everything else.
“It’s not that I can’t crank out content, but I have questions.” Continue Reading
Content strategy for personalization: Five steps toward building thoughtful targeted experiences, by Colin Eagan
What is targeting, and why do I care?
Targeting is personalized content/layout for a person. It’s adaptive to a unique user trait, and it can be based on zip code, browsing history, etc.
Targeted = customized, based on data. Continue Reading
Customer service design: Content strategy in the spaces between, by Mike Atherton
As a child of the ’80s, Mike (in England) sent away to the US for comic books. It would take at least 6 weeks to get the comics, but the store sent a postcard to let him know the comics were on their way.
That’s experience design, customer service, and content strategy. Crossing the streams of UX, IA, and CS.
Today, we have way more channels of communications, and we can get things shipped way faster.
Similarly, the hotel here provides an experience that goes from Confab site -> the hotel’s web booking -> email reminder -> walking into the hotel door -> checking in at the kiosk -> going to your room -> seeing a personalized welcome message on the TV.
This is service design. Continue Reading
Creating a Content Lab: Your Best-Kept Resourcing Secret, by Kate Garklavs
Started life as a fiction writer, and uses a lot of those fiction ideas in her content. Now, at 18F, she’s one of nine content designers. She used to be the only one. Still, as nine, that’s not a ton, so they designed a content lab.
18F works on civic design:
- They’ve made the immigration process easier through resource and form design
- They’ve brought kids into national parks
- They’ve made campaign finance data easier to find and understand
Working as the sole content designer in 2014, Kate had a hard time providing people with enough high quality content. They determined they needed a process or system to do more good, more efficiently. Continue Reading
Better suggestions through tagging: How Netflix deconstructs Hollywood, by Mike Hastings
Mike works at Netflix (no relation to the CEO with the same last name). He suggests that channel surfing is intellectual, not lazy. The channel surfer identifies who’s on the screen, what else they’ve been in, how colorful the screen is and what that means (comedy vs drama), whether it’s kid friendly, etc. There’s a lot (subliminally) being identified and decided.
“Common objects become strangely uncommon when removed from their context and ways of being seen.” -Wayne Thiebaud
For Netflix, they’re showing TV and movie options out of context – no scenes, no hints to help people make quick decisions. How do they make sure they’re providing people with enough info to go on, compared to the context they would get flipping channels? Continue Reading
Understanding your audience, by Robert Mills
Audience research should become embedded into your work. This talk will include quick win suggestions and easy ways to incorporate research into projects as an individual, as opposed to the bigger projects with tons of resources.
- The difference between knowing and understanding
- How to actually gain the understanding
- How to apply the learning to content strategy