Four methods that will give your content strategy a boost
Beginning, overseeing and maintaining a content strategy can often feel overwhelming. The term content strategy sounds simple enough but when you actually dive into it a little further and begin to observe the nuts and bolts of planning and developing your content, most realise it’s anything but. So many questions can begin to fill your head like the best place to start or maybe how much data to use or even who to make responsible for it? The list of questions can seem endless, unanswerable and very overwhelming indeed.
To help make things a little clearer, Craig, our marketing consultant here at Wecan Media has offered some of his best hints and tips for a solid foundation when it comes to a successful content strategy.
One thing that’s fairly clear is that good content strategists are by and large fairly balanced in terms of being right-brained/left-brained. They aren’t just concerned with the substance of the content or rather the art and story as it’s sometimes known, or even just the what and why of what we publish but the structure of it too, so how and where the content will appear. A good content strategist should be fluent in every single part of that conversation so that even if one part needs a little more time and attention, it’ll receive it no problem. Sadly this has been something that many have struggled with since the web first came into existence.
When it comes to web design, at any given time there must be a balance between tech logistics, user experience, analytics, messaging and so on. At the centre of it all is content and if it’s to be human-centred, strategically minded and useful then a means of continually designing systems that allow disciplines to inform and influence one another needs to be found. To get this right the primary responsibility of a content strategist should be to ensure conversation across the different categories and make sure that the correct questions are being asked about the content at the right time during the design process and even beyond.
Many wonder how far ahead they should be planning their content strategy because let’s face it, we’re such a fast moving world that new things are happening and being introduced all of the time. Perhaps instead of asking yourself when to bring a content strategy into a project, it might be better to simply change your mind set and consider content strategies as a constant. We should all be asking ourselves constantly why we need the content, who it’s for, what their expectations are and what its requirements are to make it work with the current technical infrastructure. It’s also worth asking yourself if you can sustain the content throughout its lifecycle too. By changing your mind set and asking yourself these questions continually then you’ll eventually make it a habit.
Confusion with copy
During the design phase many are left needing copy to design but how do you avoid writing suggestive final copy and at what point should you be using the final copy? What about wireframes, design and beta? This is something that stumps most and often leads them into content strategies. Web writers are always being handed wireframes along with content requirements that don’t take into account the actual content and its substance leaving them questioning why they need this subhead or why the four pages can’t simply be one? Here at Wecan Media, we’ve found successful copywriting can only happen when it enters the design process and when it has certain questions already answered such as:
- What does the user expect from this page/section/module?
- What actions are we hoping to encourage from the user?
- What’s the message we intend to deliver?
- What voice and tone are we going for?
Some designers will often go head first into the design process when these aren’t answered and will find themselves struggling, especially when the website needs to be designed with and for the content itself. A helpful tool to use is a page table. It’s a great guide for writers and designers that helps through the process of crafting useful and usable content. By keeping the content at the very centre of everything then there’s a much better chance of not having to break the design later in the process.
Lastly, fight the good fight
we come across this difficulty all the time in terms of trying to introduce content strategies to, quite frankly, content strategy resistant companies. People do their utmost, killing themselves over PowerPoint after PowerPoint trying to explain what it is, why it’s needed and how it helps. This can sometimes gain some traction but more often than not it’s like talking to a brick wall so instead we simply ask questions. When dealing with our clients we try our best to be consultants rather than tacticians. We change the conversation and ask why, what, how, for who, what next and where? Here at Wecan Media we help people come to terms with the fact that content is no longer simply the stuff that fills the buckets but is rather something that has a real place. Content is now the reason we design and build in the first place.
If you’d like more information on content strategies and how we can help you, then contact us today and watch your website soar in Google rankings.