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Do You Live in a Bubble? (and why it matters)

“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

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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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The Base of UX Knowledge

Last week I met up with a UX designer who is fairly new to the field. She has an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and reads everything she can find on UX, IA, content strategy, user research, and design in general, which is a sign to me that she’ll be going great places.

She confessed to me that she’s often overwhelmed by the amount there is to learn. “I often feel that I’m barely sticking my toe in to this huge lake of knowledge” she said, and I confessed (to her chagrin) that after 6 years in the field, I often feel the same way.

To be honest, I don’t think that feeling ever goes away. There’s too much new research, too many new books, too much being produced and discovered every day. Instead, I think we learn to sift through the information and categorize it into one of two areas: base knowledge, and trends. Continue Reading

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Don’t Sweat the Intention

This site has gotten a fair amount of notice lately, due to my live blogging of conferences such as Confab, LavaCon, and Congility. I’m thrilled – I love that I’m creating something valuable for others, and of course I’m happy to be promoted, but I’m always a bit disconcerted when someone thanks me for covering the conference. Some of it might be impostor syndrome, which strikes us all, but I also often feel that the thanks is undeserved. Continue Reading

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Content strategy is to ____ as ____ is to design

Awhile back, in one of my favorite content strategy articles Rachel Lovinger told us:

 ”Content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design.”

But that was more true when she said it, in 2007, than it is now. These days we recognize that content strategy is about much more than copy writing. It’s about all the content we use to communicate a message. And, although content strategy and information architecture have quite a bit of overlap, content strategy is not here to organize and label the content, so much as it is the creation and governance of the content.

With that in mind, I (respectfully) submit this as an update to Rachel Lovinger’s original statement:

“Content strategy is to message as user experience is to design.”

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The Difference Between Good Taste and Best Practices

“Everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor but they couldn’t possibly all have good taste.” -Marie, “When Harry Met Sally”

"Everybody thinks they have good taste."

“Everybody thinks they have good taste.”

Marie’s rationale for getting rid of her boyfriend’s atrocious wagon-wheel table is the same explanation we all use when we think something is obvious, or common sense. Nora Ephron wrote (fictional) Marie’s line in 1989, a gentle reminder to the world that we all think our personal opinions are the “right” opinions. The same line of thought has recently been identified by A List Apart author Nishant Kothary, discussing Jack Hamilton’s perspective on singer Ryan Macklemore:

“What was most interesting about Hamilton’s piece was the unfortunate, but abundantly common, message hidden between the lines: if you enjoy Macklemore, you have terrible taste in music.”

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There’s no Wrong Way to use a Reeses

“THEM: Well, I have to confess that we don’t quite use it the way you’d want…

ME: (frowns)

Now, that frown you see may not be for the reason you think. I’m not frowning because people don’t follow the methods we share to the letter. I’m frowning because they seem to think that’s a problem.” -Jesse James Garrett, How to Design Experiences the Adaptive Path Way (Or Not)

In Jesse James Garrett’s recent article, he goes on to talk about the process Adaptive Path uses, and how it works for some people but not others. He advises readers to use the parts that work for them, and let the rest sit for another day.

His words are wise, and they apply to more than just process. Continue Reading