Can Content Strategy be considered as a new discipline in the digital field?
Here are some of the most useful lessons that I have learned from the content strategy forum held in Paris in mid-April.
We all have heard that “Content is king”. We cannot deny that content is what the users come to look for on our website (information, documents, data, videos). It is the end-product that is effectively consumed, used and that is spread out on the web. That is not brand new!
But does content receive the attention it deserves all along the web production process? The answer of the experts attending the content strategy forum is doubtlessly clear: too much time is spent on the framework for a great user experience (functionalities, design, template, CMS) when too little time is spent on the content. Most of the time the content becomes an issue once the website is build. “The end result is that the value proposition for customers cannot be delivered because the content is insufficient, inadequate, and inappropriate.” said Rahel Anne Baillie, one of the speakers.
For instance, the copywriting activity is seen as an “additional” task to the activities included in the main scope of the project. The copywriter is asked to create or review some contents once the design phase is over. Yet, the content creation is greatly dependent on the way the website is structured (information architecture) and the templates are built. As a result, the content does not fit the templates or the site map. It is like building an art gallery without figuring out by which kind of artwork it will be filled.
To avoid this kind of situation the copywriter should work closely with the information architect. It is also important that the content related matters get attention during the business analysis phase. It is in this sense that we can envisage content strategy as an emerging discipline in digital communication.
Furthermore, the content should been taken care of all along its whole lifecycle (from cradle to the grave). Once it is stored in the CMS, the content should be regularly reviewed in order to detect what is still relevant and what is not.
The process of setting up a strategy, creating the information architecture, the user experience and editing a text or a video should then be driven by the same aim: delivering the right content to the users. The right content is a content that is useful, usable.
How to implement these findings successfully?
1st step: Explore the content
o Which type of content (news, issue sheet, product description, facts & figures)?
o Which format (article, video, audio, image)?
o Which purpose (sell, inform, promote)?
o How is it organised?
o How many pages?
=> Create an inventory
2d step: Assess its quality
o Redundant, outdated, trivial?
o Findable and usable?
o Clear and accurate?
o Consistent, appropriate style?
o Useful and relevant?
=> Use a quality checklist
3d step: Connect the content with the business goals
o What are the goals of the business (mission, vision, values)?
o What is the goal of the website?
o Does the content fit that goal?
=> Make a SWOT analysis
4th step: Connection of the content with the users
o How do users perform tasks?
=> Observe & listen
=> Ask questions
o Does the feedback fit your communication goals?
5th step: Investigate the content processes and stakeholders
o What are the content processes and stakeholders?
o Who decides what can be published?
=> Talk to the stakeholders and the people involved into content process and culture
=> Review documentation of processes