Sunday, May 24, 2015

Content strategy II

That means that, at their best, strategists will provide a document explaining how their teams will accomplish these goals.

Relly Annett-Baker, in her article Why you need a Content Strategist, suggests you might apply a rough methodology: When you first meet, ensure you ask a lot of questions about their business works, what messages they want to get across and what their business’/products’ best features are.

Look at, and if required create the wireframes and the proposed information architecture of their website, consider interaction instructions, and determine whether a message is best explained with a screencast or a series of step-by-step by pictures.

Content, just like the websites they inhabit, are living, changing things. When strategists seek to assess and improve the quality of a website’s content, they typically follow a four-part process.

analyse; In this phase, strategists figure out what what kind of content they’re dealing with.
Ask questions about content, right from the start. Utilise user research or personas to decide what content is needed. Answer the question, “who cares?” Carry out a content audit, and/or a gap analysis.

Collect; Here we figure out (or plan for) the commonalities across our website’s content. Establish key themes and messages. Write a plan for creating and commissioning content. Insist  upon yourself  that you create plans for content production over time (an editorial calendar).

Publish; In this phase, we’ll see our content through to publication: where does it live on the website and how does it get there? Annotate wireframes and sitemaps to explain how both interaction and content will work. Specify CMS features like content models, metadata, and workflow based on the content strategy. Write and aggregate your killer content.

Manage; After we’ve published content, it’s time to look back, see what worked, and plan for the future. Write comprehensive copy decks, based on common templates. Write a style guide for tone of voice, SEO, linking policy, and community policy.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Where we're heading with the Human/System interface


interface
ˈɪntəfeɪs/
noun
  1. 1.
    a point where two systems, subjects, organisations, etc. meet and interact.
    "the interface between accountancy and the law"


  2. 2.
    COMPUTING
    a device or program enabling a user to communicate with a computer.
    "a graphical user interface"


verb
  1. 1.
    interact with (another system, person, etc.).
    "you will interface with counterparts from sister companies"
  2. 2.
    COMPUTING
    connect with (another computer or piece of equipment) by an interface.
    "the hotel's computer system can interface automatically with the booking system"

It'll come as no surprise that my information sources, feeds, alerts, blog rolls are very often filled with tech, SEM, mobile, UX information and articles. I can often miss stuff due to overload and so on rare occasions I actively take some time out of the weekend to find a quite spot and try and have a good catch up.

One article I didn't miss was by Jefferson Graham (USA Today technology writer), titled; "My (rough) first day with Apple Watch" The reason this wasn't missed was it chimed with some of the thinking I've been having around design, intuitive design, human/machine system interfacing and where this whole area is heading. In his article he makes a particularly pertinent reference to the method of releasing Apple products into the arms of customers, i.e. no instructions needed. Jefferson says "...The company has always been known for creating products that were intuitive, and didn't need instruction manuals because they were so simple to use." This however seems not be the case with Apples latest offering. I reference this as an example of where as much as we might try the user interface currently faces many hurdles.

Back in the day, when I ran teams in customer service centres and sales centres I had the opportunity to observe first hand the impact, both good and bad of the human/machine system interface relationship. What I observed has coloured my thinking in all areas of design, usability and beyond.

I observed there seemed to be an upper limit of systems we could expect a co-worker to successfully work across and still be optimised in their outputs. There were fluctuations in the upper limit, such things as system experience and attitudinal elements but overall five different enough systems seemed to be the average that would ensure optimised outputs, seven for those with a good length of use of the systems and seven for those with a high attitudinal approach.

[A quick health warning here, I ran no formal insight work, and didn't run clean variant testing, my view was formed from on the job observation and analyses of co-workers performance. The systems I refer to include phone hardware where call coding would be inputted, reservation systems, availability systems, email systems, company website, share point etc.]

I reference this as whilst each of the systems they were required to work across had some greater or lesser degree of intuitive design, in concert this was lost, resulting in a very unintuitive set of interfaces.

Time however has moved on. We have been through dramatic moves forward in both visual, spacial and Human/system machine interface design.

THE INTUITIVE INTERFACE

...and yes we have moved on, however Timoni West from the  Department of Design Brooklyn and formerly a designer at Foursquare, makes a really valid point, she says; 
… don’t feel like every single action you design right now, in this Wild West time of interaction design, has to be completely intuitive. There are things we think are intuitive now that we learned using tutorials decades ago...
One of the finest of such examples are the early Apple tutorials showing us how to use a mouse, we didn't come out of the womb knowing how to do this and yet today the use of this tech has either been completely superseded or it's become intuitive!

Another such example is being told to "pinch glass", back in 2013 the very idea that by pinching a sheet of glass we could have direct control over resizing images seemed fanciful and yet today and the variants on "zoom-pinch" it seems second nature, one might say intuitive.

So what? We learn and that learning becomes embedded and becomes second nature, but where are we going with this? I think we're in an age of NO INTERFACE.

THE NO INTERFACE TIME IS UPON US

Saturday, April 04, 2015

So you want to publish online content?


A common occurrence? You or someone you know wants to create content, and have it published online.


A slightly less common occurrence? Having that same someone articulate high aspirations for their content.

For those select few, instead of creating content destined for some digital landfill, their content is going to be special; it’s going places and it’s taking them, their brand, and their experience with it.

I'm going to be looking at the following areas.


  • What is Content Strategy? 
  • How is Content Strategy performed? 
  • Content Strategy Luminaries 
  • Tools of the Trade 
  • Related Resources 
  • Content Strategy Books 
  • Additional Resources 
  • Managing and publishing content requires that we deal with a necessary evil known as content management.


Content management is just what it sounds like, a way to manage the creation and dissemination of content. To effectively and systematically do that, it’s imperative that publishers employ what’s (aptly) known as content management systems (CMS's).

The most common of kind of which is called a blog. I have to put this out there right up front, our industry is full of jargon, and more often than not it's pretty difficult to succinctly summarise, so I'm going to have to assume that you already know the basics around blogging and potentially content management. That way we can discuss the larger issues at hand, such as strategy. If you don’t, can I suggest a few Google searches and to come back when you're a little more confident?

So to begin by quoting Louis Rosenfeld, “If [Information Architecture] is the spatial side of information, I see content strategy as the temporal side of the same coin.”

This abstraction is important, If you or someone you know is getting ready to unleash content into an unsuspecting world, what guides the creation efforts?

At this point, visual design, design of the actual CMS itself is utterly irrelevant. Nobody should really discuss what the system will look like (expect, maybe, the visual thinkers in the room), but instead, the heart of the matter; what’s this all about? What content will this website deliver? Why are we doing what we're doing? Moreover, when will it deliver it? And everyone wants to add their tuppenceworth,

It’s kind of like debating what content should be on the homepage. Which is another thing, what content should be on the homepage? Egads. Content, you’ll find, is everywhere. In this article, we’ll take a look at Content Strategy, that odd amalgamation of Web Savvy, Information Architecture and editorial process that adds up to something infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.

We'll look at when and where to apply strategy to your content endeavours and when you should simply raise your hand and start asking the important questions.

“Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content,” says Kristina Halvorson, author of the book Content Strategy for the Web. “It plots an achievable roadmap for individuals and organisations to create and maintain content that audiences will actually care about. It provides specific, well-informed recommendations about how we’re going to get from where we are today (no content, or bad content, or too much content) to where we want to be (useful, usable content people will actually care about).

”Information Architecture helps us say “where” content lives, Content Strategy tells us decide “when” it lives. The combination, in due course, helps us as well as our clients (internal, external)  understand “why” it’s there in the first place.

This quote from Louis carries extra significance because it’s based on actual experience. You see, Louis is the guy behind the UX publishing house Rosenfeld Media. His company makes real, honest-to-goodness books, b o o k s, that's right you diginoids, you can hold them in your hand. So if I had to guess, Louis knows quite a bit about Content Strategy even though he might not identify as someone well-versed in it, because Content Strategy is part and parcel to the publishing world.

DIGITAL PUBLISHING  the distance between print and the web, when it comes to a prudent publication process, isn't all that vast. In fact, if you think about all of the stuff required to publish books, authors, reviewers, technical editors, copy editors, publishers, graphic designers, distributors, etc. we really begin to see that their analogous roles on the web are just, by default, not designed into the process …at least, not when everyone and their Mother can publish content.

Content Strategy is the way forward. It helps both clients and project teams understand what content is being produced, how it’s being produced, by whom, when, and why. Kristina Halvorson, in her article The Discipline of Content Strategy, says that “at its best, a content strategy defines: key themes and messages recommended topics content purpose (i.e., how content will bridge the space between audience needs and business requirements) content gap analysis metadata frameworks and related content attributes search engine optimization (SEO), and implications of strategic recommendations on content creation, publication, and governance.”

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Bedroom redesign | It may have taken some considerable time

 Whilst there is some snagging to do and a bit of minor repairing to plaster work and of course the need to add a bay window curtain rail.

I'm really pleased at how far I've managed to bring the bedroom forward.

There's a real sense of calm and it is a great space to relax as well as sleep in.


new side cabinet and old mirror, Lavender GardensNext project will be to remove the wardrobes from the small guest bedroom currently Arthur's [the dog] bedroom. This feels really daunting as they've been fitted really well, and in some ways feels quite wasteful, verging on extravagant. I'm also quite worried about wrecking the walls as I remove them.

I wonder if old fitted wardrobes have any takers on freecycle, will need to investigate this.

Today however it's a focus on the garden, we have a tree surgeon [Adam] from Graftin Gardeners coming over in 10 minutes to quote for our Silver birch to have a trim and for the BIG ornamental cherry tree next door to get a bit of a haircut.

It sounds so nimby but if it doesn't get cut back now to the boundary line we will have no sun in our garden when it's in full leaf. 

Once that's done and dusted, start the work on the garden, we're really lucky to have such a big space in central London but the previous owners decked the whole thing so it does rather resemble a massive beer garden, as was pointed out by a friend before he could stop himself.

Dr T isn't convinced about me removing part of the deck to make a full raised side border/bed but he has got to let me crack on as he's the one that made us spend over 3/4 million an what at the moment is very much a glorified one bedroom flat






Saturday, January 31, 2015

Those working weeks when letting your hair down...OoopS!

We've all been there, following a tough week a glass or two of shandy [sic] is a well deserved treat.

But what happens when "Wine goes Bad" the little video may just serve as a warning...!   

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Food to warm the heart

You get days where you have been as busy as a May fly but things have all slotted into place, maybe only by a hairs breadth, and you may have had to hold your breath a couple of times, but in place the day has slotted.

It's days like this you want food that warms the heart, food that says; this is a good day. 

This day is a day for Meatballs in Goulash.....I promise you, it is. Hot Paprika, onions, peppers, garlic, noodles, poppy seeds....


So for the ingredients.

Two approaches to the meatballs, and I frown on neither approach, remember you've worked hard all day so no meatball snobbery here.

FOR THE MEATBALLS

Method 1. 
Buy fresh meat meatballs from the supermarket.

Method 2. 
12oz lean minced pork
12 oz lean minced beef
1/2 red pepper very finely chopped 
1 fat buddha of a clove of garlic (crushed or finely chopped) 
a fistful of flat parsley roughly chopped
1 egg
seasoned flour, this is flour with sat and pepper...! (You don't buy it btw, just chuck some salt in and grind or shake some pepper in)
Vegetable oil (you can use Olive but vegetable has a higher burn point so you should get a better brown on your balls).

FOR THE SAUCE (I'm not going to advise a shortcut on the sauce as the sauce is so simple yet tasty I haven't found a supermarket version that holds a candle to doing it yourself.)

2 very level tspoons of hot paprika. Be careful on this as different companies produce Hot Paprika with different hotness levels. I'd recommend going with the two level teaspoons if this is your fist outing with this dish. BTW, it could really do with being Hungarian Paprika.
1 medium onion chopped 
1/2 medium red pepper, (this is the other half of the pepper from the making of the meatballs (see what I did there?) if you only have peppers of other colour in the fridge use those, let's not be overly purist hey...!
another fat Buddha of a clove of garlic (crushed or finely chopped)
A tin of chopped tomatoes or 1lb of ripe tomatoes
1/2 a tub of creme fraiche.

You'll also b=need a heavy bottomed casserole dish with a tight fitting lid.

1st make the meatballs.

I a large bowl pt in the minced pork and the minced beef chopped red pepper, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs (if you don't have breadcrumbs don't stress, these are really to make them go further and some people don't like too meaty a meatball).

Mix them all well, and I have yet to find an implement that is better than your hands at this, get in there and mash it all together, and then mash it some more. if however his is too uck an idea ten a big fork will do the job.

Now you're aiming for 24 meatballs with this amount of ingredients. once you've got your meatballs all sorted you want to roll them in the seasoned flour. I find a takeaway container really helpful for this as per the pic below... Roll them around or use your hands


Now in the casserole dish heat up the oil to HOT, we want to get a really good colour on the meatballs.  and they'll taste that much better. You don't have to do them all in one batch, do six at a time, get them brown take them out and pop them on a plate then do the next six etc.

Once all meatballs are browned it's time to make the sauce.

DO NOT WASH THE CASSEROLE DISH at this point.

Put the chopped onions into the casserole dish but turn the heat down, we want the onions to soften not colour, a low heat makes them soft and sweet, a high heat firm and coloured. We want soft and sweet for this dish.

After about five minutes add in the chopped pepper

Another three to five minutes put in the garlic

give it about a minute then add the paprika nd the left over flour mix well 

NOW add your tomatoes and maybe half a tin of water.

Bring up to simmering point and now put the meatballs in the sauce, put the lid on and put it all in the oven.

Half way through take it out and give it a good but gentle stir, 


For the noodles, use about 3 oz of tagliatelle, or spaghetti per person, bring to the boil and when cooked use 1/2 oz of butter and let it melt through the noodles, take the dish out of the oven, swirl in the creme fraiche, pile the noodles on plates and serve up your food for the heart.

ENJOY

drewrobo .