Book – Content Strategy for the Web

Content-strategyVery insightful book…  ah, I should not have waited until second edition to read it, as the book even more useful than I though it would be.

My main insight is the need to differentiate between content strategy and content marketing, as it is often confused.  Content strategy is a thoughtful approach to company’s content; while content marketing is one of marketing tactics.  It is entirely possible to have an excellent content strategy that would do nothing for marketing, and run a robust content marketing effort in parallel with a rather sorry state of other content…

Content strategy guides your plans for the creation, delivery and governance of the content.

Some of the points from the book:

  • Content needs to have an owner (and it is not the person who publishes content on the web site)
  • Content is often treated as a commodity by the organizations, but it requires knowledge and skill to produce. Or – to produce reasonably well.  Creating content right requires more planning than producing a brochure.
  • Creating content might be a good tactic, but it should not be done just because you can…
  • Content strategy consists of core strategy. content components (substance and structure), and people components (workflow and governance)

content

  • Content strategist:
    • Is the advocate for the content throughout the organization
    • Provides background research and analysis that stakeholders need to make smart decisions about content
    • Creates recommendations for the content based on business and user needs
    • Works with the organization to implement the content online
  • The authors of the book discovered that if project sponsors are collaborating on the content project with different parties, the project is much more likely to be successful comparing to the situation when the project is kept under wraps.

Don’t audit and analyze your competitors’ websites with the idea that you need to keep up.  consider instead where you can create true competitive advantage.  Nine times out of ten, this simply means optimizing you current content (in quality and structure), fixing your site search, and making smart, strategic decisions about what new content you will add to the site – why, when, how, for whom, by who, and so on.

Example of core strategy statement

core-strategy

  • Authors suggest that detail personas are not needed for content creation – they can be distracting.  “…a bulleted list of basic user attributes can work just as well.”
  • Need for an editorial oversight – even if you buy or licence ready-made content
  • Authors observed that organizations might commit to an amount of content they simply can’t sustain.  They launch websites with unfinished or sub-par content no one really had time to generate in the first place, let alone pay attention to once it went live.  The solution is prioritization.
  • New content needs to be created for new channels:  “For years now, organizations have been trying to retrofit their print content and digital documents into a web-based format…  Just as the old document model broke down when the web arrived, the web page model is going to break down in the years to come, as we confront a future of multiple devices and platforms.”
  • Agency process change from discovery > information architecture > design > templates > development to content strategy > information architecture > web writing >content production > design > templates > development

Excellent book – an fantastic reference material – highly recommend.

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