content strategy FTW

[ I usually don’t copy/paste from the brochure, but this one had the best hook that I couldn’t write better myself. ]

11th hour copy. Fix-it-later launches. Our users deserve more than the last-minute content we often get stuck with. And you have the power to change the game. Learn how to introduce (and sell) content strategy into your web design process.
[ session description ]

I have a feeling this presentation is going to make the best podcast to listen to. Kristina is awesome. She’d better put this on slideshare.

Kristina Halvorson @halvorson
13 March 2010
Content Strategy

If content is king, there sure are a lot of kings that smell bad. When content helps me, answers a question, allows me to complete a task, it’s the best experience. Social media allows us to share those gems when we find them with others.

Content strategy forces organizations to take a hard look of what it is they are doing and why they are doing it. We build things to house content, yet most of the workflow of design is focused on the house not the content.

Content Problem diagram interactive project process

Web writers are often isolated. Projects kick off without really talking about the content: what content do we have? how do we take care of it? All that “can be taken care of later.”

Lies we tell ourselves

Lie: We already have the content. We can just get it, fill in later. It’s just writing, we can always write more. The client will take care of the content.

Truth: That’s copywriting. Not content. Content requires auditing, analysis, strategy, categorization, structuring, creation, review, approval, publication, updating, and archiving/expiration.


  • Richard Saul Wurman coined the phrase “information architecture”
  • Edward Tufte “Envisioning Information”: you can use design to communicate information that is more powerful than just explaining it in text
  • jesse james garrett synthesizes user experience. Site objectives/user needs. Functional specifications/content requirements*, interaction design…

* The mistake is to begin to think about content the way we think about features. We focus on the vehicle and its features that houses the ghostly content. But we never engaged the people who were thinking about the website three years from now.

Content is not a feature

It’s something that changes all the time. Reject the status quo of just accepting that content will always be late in the process due to silo.

Content Strategy

A strategy is a plan for obtaining a specific goal or result. Content includes text and data, graphics, video and animation, and audio (“anything you can access online”). However text and data is more dynamic than video/audio products. Text is page copy, articles, links, labels, flash elements, alt tags, error messages, task instructions forms, search results, metadata … All of it.


The understanding that we want to impart upon our users as they interact with our content. What is it that we want them to know after they are done reading/interacting our content.


Audit your organization’s content and ask: Does this help us to achieve our business objectives as well as meet my users’ goals? Every piece of content should map back to those two things in some way. The creation of this kind of “mapped” content should have editorial guidance and a schedule (editorial calendar).


Without a content strategy, a copywriter will try to accomplish everything in text because they don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish or why people came to a page or what a schedule / ownership for a page is.

  1. Audit. You must know what you have on your site, on your blogs, on your social media channels. Map the terrain so you can create a map to where you want to be. Content Inventory ( If you have a large site, pick a source of pain that is highly visible to administration, and audit that area. Anything that is Redundant, Outdated, or Trivial can go.
  2. Ask. It’s not just the “what”, content strategy is the why, how, for whom, by whom, with what, when where, how often, and what next.
  3. Analyze. Look at the value of content, as well as the ecosystems (seo, government, social, geographical) that surround your content. Pay special attention to the internal ecosystem: content ownership, skillsets, politics, campaign portfolio.
  4. Align. Content strategy is a plan for creation, delivery, and governance. A strategist is involved in every step of the total product process and helps to keep the organization involved in the product aligned around a lifecycle (create, deliver, govern).
  5. Assume Responsibility At the end of the day, you are a publisher. Participate.

What’s the win? Happiness.

  • Better user experience
  • Greater brand consistency
  • New operational efficiencies
  • Better risk management through better controls
  • Improved seo/analytics
  • More effective personalization and targeting

What are our key performance indicators?

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