Content strategy is the work we do when we set up content to appear to the right people, at the right time, in the right places. But the purpose of content strategy is to provide a good experience. To me, that means content strategy is UX. But there are many who disagree with me.
Sometimes clients ask me how content strategy differs from UX design. I explain to them that a UX practitioner is anyone who is creating, crafting, or “designing” a user experience. Some people call themselves UX designers, UI designers, or UX strategists, to try and specify how general or specific their skill set is.
Personally, I avoid having the term “designer” in my title, because of the dual meaning of the word, and the common connotation of design as sketching/wireframing/visual design. Since my work focuses on creating a strategy for the content, and figuring out the way to get content to the right places, it’s appropriate to call me a content strategist as opposed to a UX strategist, content strategy designer, or content UX strategist.
Switching Careers, UX to Content Strategy (or back)
As the path to becoming a content strategist becomes more formalized, to the point that high school or college students might actively decide to major in UX design, or plan to someday become content strategists, we need to rethink the skills it takes to be a content strategist, and what differentiates the role from other areas of UX.
I’ve written before about the many ways people of my generation have found their way to content strategy. We came as theater majors, music majors, psychology majors, and english majors. We learned copywriting through journalism, branding through marketing, taxonomies through computer science, and empathy through life experience. Our hard skills differ, and our soft skills are consistent.
Lately I’ve seen yet another pathway: from UX/UI designer to content strategy. I know UX designers who sketch wireframes and craft their own UI text using voice and tone guidelines. I know other designers who specialize in IA, and consider what content will need to be created, and what backend tagging system will support the IA. These overlaps are providing new ways to learn the details of content strategy. We may someday need a term for a subset of content strategists who do their own UI work as well.
Content Strategy is UX: We all Share One Goal
User experience, UI design, and content strategy are three sides of the same coin. We all want to help the end user. The UX designer does so through big picture design. The UI designer does so through wireframes, And the content strategist does so through content decisions and guidelines.
I, for one, welcome our UX design expats, these design-bellied sneetches. Let’s embrace their skills and encourage them to learn more about the content side of things. No one can be an expert at everything, but we can all keep learning.