Beginner’s Guide to Content Strategy

I’m not sure I really agree with all of this, but there are some important points here that are very current in the industry …

If you or someone you know is getting ready to unleash content on the world, what guides the creation efforts?

At this point, visual design—design of the actual CMS itself—is irrelevant. Nobody should really discuss what the system will look like (expect, maybe, the visual thinkers in the room), but instead, the heart of the matter: what’s this all about? What content will this website deliver? Moreover, when will it deliver it?

And everyone wants to add their $0.02. It’s kind of like debating what content should be on the homepage. Which is another thing: what content should be on the homepage?

Egads. Content, you’ll find, is everywhere.

In this article, we’ll take a brief look at Content Strategy—that odd amalgamation of Web Savvy, Information Architecture and editorial process that adds up to something infinitely greater than the sum of its parts. You’ll learn when and where to apply strategy to your content endeavors and when you should simply raise your hand and start asking the important questions.

What is Content Strategy?

“Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content,” says Kristina Halvorson, author of the book Content Strategy for the Web.

“It plots an achievable roadmap for individuals and organizations to create and maintain content that audiences will actually care about. It provides specific, well-informed recommendations about how we’re going to get from where we are today (no content, or bad content, or too much content) to where we want to be (useful, usable content people will actually care about).”

Taking a step back, Louis Rosenfeld adds:

“If [Information Architecture] is the spatial side of information, I see content strategy as the temporal side of the same coin.” 

This abstraction is important: If Information Architecture helps us say “where” content lives, Content Strategy tells us decide “when” it lives. The combination, in due course, helps us as well as our clients understand “why” it’s there in the first place.

This quote from Louis carries extra significance because it’s based on actual experience. You see, Louis is the guy behind the UX publishing houseRosenfeld Media. His company makes real, honest-to-goodness books. You can hold them in your hand.

So if I had to guess, Louis knows quite a bit about Content Strategy—even though he might not identify someone well-versed in it—because Content Strategy is part and parcel to the publishing world.

DIGITAL PUBLISHING

The distance between print and the web, when it comes to a prudentpublication process, isn’t all that vast. In fact, if you think about all of the stuffrequired to publish books—authors, reviewers, technical editors, copy editors, publishers, graphic designers, distributors, etc.—you begin to see that their analogous roles on the web are just, by default, not designed into the process…at least, not when everyone and their mom can publish content.

Content Strategy is the way forward. It helps both clients and project teams understand what content is being produced, how it’s being produced, by whom, when, and why.”

Complete Beginner’s Guide to Content Strategy | UX Booth.

16 px Body Text … Hell, Yeah!

From 16 Pixels: For Body Copy. Anything Less Is A Costly Mistake | Smashing Magazine:

Most websites are crammed with small text that’s a pain to read. Why? There is no reason for squeezing so much information onto the screen. It’s just a stupid collective mistake that dates back to a time when screens were really, really small. So…

Screen vs. magazine: 100% is NOT big; image by Wilson Miner.

via Information Architects – The 100% Easy-2-Read Standard.

Three levels of happy design

From Beyond Frustration: Three levels of happy design | UX Magazine.

“… I’ve used Seligman’s terms, but my descriptions incorporate concepts and vocabulary from all the research I did as I apply them to experience design.

Mindfulness in design is about a pleasing awareness. In relationships, it can mean infatuation. It’s knowing that this is good, that this makes me happy. It’s satisfying. You feel it in your body. As Norman suggests, it’s visceral. You trust that things are moving the direction you want them to go. As the user of the design, there’s the feeling you’re being paid attention to, that the designer is anticipating your needs and being considerate of your wants. As the designer, you demonstrate that you have the user in mind and you understand her goals.

Flow is from work done by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In his book, Flow, Csikszentmihalyi describes a state that people enter when they are fully focused in which they experience immersion in a task or activity to the point where they lost track of time. There’s no time between tool time and goal time. Brown talks about transformation; I think that applies here, too. Sagmeister uses words like contentment and joy. As the user, you sense no friction between you and the design on the way to reaching your goal. You may even spend more time than you planned because you’re having fun, or being productive, or both. As the designer, you incorporate psychological cues, language, social cues, and reinforcement to subtly motivate users to keep working or playing longer than they might without those design cues.

Meaning comes from a feeling of fellowship, contributing, and making the world a better place. It’s about harmony and, as Norman says, reflectiveness—because good things happen to you, you want to do good for others. As a user, you reach your goal quickly, easily, and happily, but you realize you’re involved in something bigger than yourself, that your involvement is making a positive difference in others’ lives. As a designer, help users know where they fit in and what their effect is by thinking through exactly what you want the emotional and behavioral effects to be of using your design. You demonstrate intention (in the yogic sense) through clarity, simplicity, funneling, modeling outcomes. …”