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Building a Structured Author Experience

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

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Live from CSForum: 10 things I learned in 10 years as a Content Strategist

10 things I learned in 10 years as a Content Strategist, by Rachel Lovinger

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Content needs to be structured. Display information needs to be separate from content types and attributes.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. We’re still young. There’s a lot of uncharted territory – we need people who can do all of the many things.