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.”