An Event Apart: Content First

by May 6, 2009

Kristina Halvorson's Content First talk at An Event Apart in Seattle prescribed ways and reasons not to leave content creation to the last step of a Web site design project.

  • Usually, content is considered to be a last mile activity. Tackle it after visuals, wireframes, site map, etc. are done.
  • Nobody shows up at your Web site looking for a user experience, they come for content. But copywriters are often called in too late.
  • There is a better way: content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of content. Content includes copy, video, images, etc.
  • Content Strategy is not just have a blog, or Youtube videos. This only answers the "what." Content strategy answers: what, why, how, for whom, by whom, with what, when, where, how often, what next.
  • Wireframes and information architects and copy writers are separated. Stop using lorem ipsum and boxes –think through real content implications.
  • With web redesigns we think we can “set it and forget it”. Think “lifecycle” instead of “launch”. If we can begin to introduce and drive lifecycle content management, can help make Web sites better.
  • Need someone at the table from the beginning that can take on the messiness that is content development and planning.
  • Strategic foundation: align on goals, identify success metrics, define risks and how to mitigate, and describe content ecosystems
  • External factors that influence content strategy: user research, market, legal, etc.
  • Making content recommendations for the site: overall messaging, launch priorities, content hierarchy, page-level recommendations
  • A content strategy provides all necessary information to make smart decisions about your content, enroll other stakeholders, defines guidelines for future maintenance
  • Page tables: on a page by page basis detail what template is being used, top level message needed, consistency between other pages, implications (promises made in one place need to be fulfilled elsewhere), open questions
  • Results from good content strategy: better user experience, greater brand consistency, new operational efficiencies, better risk management, improved SEO, more personalization and targeting
  • Most companies lack resources to care for content as a critical business asset. Content is complicated, it takes people and time. It demands process and effort. We can’t continue to pretend we can fix content later.