content strategy: what’s in it for you?

Content is the reason why people use the web. Content strategy involves planning for the creation, aggregation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable, and appropriate content in an experience.
[session description]

Margot Bloomstein @mbloomstein
12 March 2010
alistapart (the case for content strategy)

Why are we doing this? What are we trying to communicate? What is our calendar/schedule for communicating across multiple channels?

Content Strategy delivers:

  • air-tight solutions (giving users what they need on time/earlier)
  • save time, budget, energy on iteration by minimizing revisions
  • cohesive UX
  • higher conversion
  • happier people (clients rallied around a shared vision)


How do you visualize abstract concepts without concrete terms? A message architecture can provide this if it is built before design begins.

Tool: A message architecture / shared vocabulary exercise builds prioritized list of brand attributes

  • card sort terms that relate to how we are seen, how our competitiors are seen, and how we’d like to be seen
  • prioritize key messages
  • use “real copy” for more unified concepts (so real shared vocab goes into mockups)
  • get it right with fewer revisions (words are cheaper than comps)

By starting with content early, more asymmetrical work can begin.

Design is able to be written to exact specs, anticipate user-generated content structures (comments, reviews); the designer anticipates content types, creates richer layouts. Content design and visual design should share a message architecture.

IA and project managers

  • no future planning is possible without knowledge of what you currently have / need
  • quantity/quality content audit:
  • parity in content length/consistency in content structure,
  • evaluate quality–current, appropriate, relevant
  • quality evaluations are made against the content strategy to inform a more thorough / comprehensive sitemap, useful wireframes; clarifies the gap analysis
  • content strategy should be part of the proposal process (e.g., IA choices for labels can be informed by the message architecture / prioritizations)
  • sell client on not wasting money


Content strategy is different from copywriting. Writing is just one tactical part of content strategy that doesn’t address “what are you trying to communicate?” Internal writers (by definition) often lack an external perspective needed to merge strategies with the entire package.


A shared message architecture can be mapped against ad/meta copy so that ad copy melds with content redesigns. You can extend where the user experience begins by making tone match “early seeds” inside search results.

Social Media

  • Successful social media experiences must transition past “client talking about themselves” to “informing the conversation”. That’s hoping that organizations get that Twitter cannot be a one-way conversation/push.
  • “Most organizations are determined to talk about themselves instead of interacting with audiences or creating two-way content (What do you want from us today?).” ~ Jeff Cutler
  • Prioritization of communication goals helps to ensure consistency.
  • Editorial style guides, editorial calendars help writers to have a consistent/coordinated multi-channel presence that uses a workflow to plan, create, and expire content types/tones/foci.

3 replies on “content strategy: what’s in it for you?”

    1. Oh I’m just getting warmed up. You should check out the other folks in my Blogroll (daniel slaughter, dave poortvliet, techory). They’re taking great notes too.

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