Getting Started with Content Strategy

Presenter: Michele Ann Jenkin

 

Submitted by: Adam Baron

 

When it comes to design, particularly web design, we likely think of the latest technology, eye-catching visual display, and great navigation, but how often do we consider creating consistent, useful content? In her fantastic presentation, Michele Ann Jenkins of Dovecot Studio discussed how developing a content strategy could enable an organization to create better content, manage that content throughout its lifecycle, and reuse it appropriately across various channels, including websites, social media, print products, signs, and other communications.

 

Michele explained that everything is content and that web content, in particular, can be anything from text, videos, images, PDF files, contact forms, buttons, maps, etc. Content strategy involves planning for the creation, publication, and governance of useful content. Furthermore, it encompasses everything from the content model and taxonomy to the content creation and maintenance, along with the editorial components of tone, voice, and style.

 

To begin developing a content strategy, Michele suggested first understanding the context and content through a content audit, including an inventory of what one has and assessing its quality. Through the audit, redundant, outdated, or trivial content is identified. Content gaps and opportunities for cross-channel syndication, such as mobile or social media are also identified. In addition, this is the time to recognize patterns in content structure and key organizing principles, as well as consider and evaluate any standards, policies, and workflows currently in place.

 

After the content audit comes the strategizing phase of the plan. For redundant, outdated, or trivial content, decisions must be made about what to keep, what to update, and what requires further evaluation. When it comes to structure, Michele recommended establishing content types that serve a clear purpose, are not too general to limit reuse, and not too granular to burden content creators. She also focused on voice for capturing the personality of an organization and tone for expressing that voice in different situations. Michele suggested reading content aloud to determine if it conveys the same values as in person. Another approach in developing a content strategy is to experience the content from the perspective of a user, also known as a customer journey.

 

The final step in the content strategy lifecycle is to adapt. Go back to the audit and determine what content to remove, what new content to create, what needs a tone, voice, or style update, and what content needs a new template or restructuring. This can be a gradual process, but it should be regularly revisited, such as yearly or as part of the ongoing web process. Michele concluded her presentation by stating content strategy is not about content, but about managing change and adapting rather than reacting.

 

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Adam Baron (L) and Michele Ann Jenkin (R)