What I’m Excited About for 2012: Content Strategy

Happy New Year!

It’s time to look forward to 2012. So far my nascent blog has focused on science topics. This post doesn’t highlight science stories that I anticipate for the coming year. Rather it’s about an initiative that will help me to better share ideas and stories in a world over-saturated with data and information. I’m digging into website content strategy, which I was motivated to do after reading a timely book.

The Growing Complexity of Content Publishing

Content Strategy for the Web

"Content Strategy for the Web" resting on my desk.

As a writer and user experience advocate, everyday I’m immersed in new content. I constantly write, edit, and evaluate different types of content — be they web pages, brochures, articles, tweets, etc. — for many different purposes. At the University of Washington, my recent efforts have focused on content marketing.

Wrangling it all can feel out-of-control at times. The stream of new projects, ideas, and stakeholders to involve is always growing; thus presenting me with a laundry list of fresh challenges everyday.

Establishing a strategy for managing website content is important. It’s all about delivering a useful piece of information to your reader. As I dive deeper into the complexity of content marketing, however, having a good strategy is imperative.

Re-Discovering “Content Strategy”

My boss gave me a copy of the book, “Content Strategy for the Web,” by Brain Traffic founder and CEO, Kristina Halvorson. It covers best practices and methodologies for managing website content and is written for companies, agencies, and practitioners like me. I read the first three chapters and identified with all the pain points that she expertly (and amusingly) defined. To be honest, it hit so close to home that it was a little depressing. It’s true that being a content publisher for the Web — which we all are these days — can be messy and overwhelming. Faced with deadlines and obstacles (both internal and external), settling into complacency of creating “good enough” content is a disservice to your audience, your organization, and yourself. I completely agree.

So how do we overcome the messiness? I assumed the book would provide a solution that would be just as overwhelming. I let it sit on my desk for the next couple of months…its cover was a bright red flag that shouted, “keep reading me!”

Over the holiday break, I took it home and finally broke into the “strategy” sections. Surprisingly, exploring these chapters was a breeze and I was delighted at what I learned. Content strategy is possible! It will be hard work; however, owning this type of strategy fits well into my areas of training and expertise. With my background, I can audit content, analyze it, align stakeholders, and set some guidelines.

It felt a little fateful to re-discover this book at the end of the year, which is usually a time for retrospection and goal-setting. The idea of creating my own content strategy energized me. I now have the roadmap and some hope. My goal in the next coming months will be to take practical, easy first steps towards creating a pleasing and useful content experience in 2012.

Find Out More

There are lots of great resources out there. If you’re interested in exploring content strategy, you can start where I did, which is at the Brain Traffic blog or by following @BrainTraffic.

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