Content Strategy

There will be Challenges

Writing compelling copy and using media that properly articulates your message is of utmost importance before structuring a layout design for a website. Producing content that provides a meaningful user experience is the goal when executing a strategy. Topics covered:

  1. Brainstorm
  2. Content Basics
  3. Information Architecture

 Brainstorm

Every website or application ever built was designed based on an idea that will ultimately determine a devs approach. Plan accordingly.

 Content Basics

The efforts that go into planning a project will ultimately be the deciding factor in the projects outcome. Developing a workflow is the first plan of order and this requires listing tasks that need to be accomplished along with expected deliverable due dates. A schedule of procedures should be defined not only for the completion of the project, but also for website maintenance.

Next, identify assets and resources that must be procured as proof of business (ie testimonials, logo) then start outlining project based on the Pyramid of User Needs theory (based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) conjured by Aarron Walter, who proposes that users set website priorities as follows: functional, reliable, usable, and pleasurable.

Implementing content requires anticipating user needs and using a blend of visuals and text to support users. Use short descriptions and create a consistent theme based on the personality. There is an abundance of resources related to style guides and guideliness for setting the tone of the content.

 Branding

For all intents and purposes, a website reflects a personal brand: it represents aspirations, ideas and dreams beyond imagination. Accordingly, how content is communicated can shape how users view a sites brand, for better or worse. Enter PR: public relations, after all, that is what a website does! Active engagement with online communities will boost brand reputation and aid in protecting the brand. Moroever, social networks will extend the reach of marketing beyond the website and generate traffic back to it!

Devising a strategy with clearly defined objectives for how to establish a presence and build up a following before extending that network will set the tone for how the brand is viewed. Social networks are perfect for sharing what you do or know through pictures, videos and newsletters. The trick is to consistently engage with online users, and be authentic and transparent when replying to users in order to develop rapport and trustworthiness.

 UX Content

UX content is a collection of information that establishes a tone for your project, communicating brand personality, values and identity in order to build trust by revealing ones agency (mission statement). Content should be descriptive, providing details to help users to facilitate their goals. Helpful content keeps users engaged, and this can be accomplished by localizing language, including video tutorials and instructional content as well as creating an interactive series of clickable questions and answers that guides a user down logical pathways toward a solution. It should inspire and support users during their visit, creating a memorable experience. In fact, creating a positive user experience by building emotional connections leads will produce future business. Use proof (ie testimonials) to encourage users to value product. Do this by developing a Brand Personality, which is the way you communicate who you are and what your value as a brand is. All website personalities are premised on one of the following brand archtypes:

 Wireframes

When planning how content will be displayed, devs create wireframes that arrange elements in an aesthetically pleasing order that effectively communicates information to the user. This process typically begins by outlining sectional containers to group content then arranging content with the containers, creating sub-containers when necessary.

 Color

Website color selection should align with brand values. Knowing ones demographic and how they respond to colors is imperative for cultivating a following.

Red is a bold color that evokes a strong emotion. With its intensity, it creates a sense of urgency.

Orange is a cheerful and confident color that conveys the idea of enthusiasm. However, it can come off as the color of caution as well.

Yellow is a color that provides a cheerful feeling. It represents optimism and is usually attention grabbing. One thing to consider, however, is that some shades can strain the eye.

Green represents growth and nature. It signifies health, serenity, and tranquility. It is associated with wealth.

Blue is associated with water, and provides a feeling of calmness and serenity. Blue creates a sense of security and trust, and is often used for corporations.

Purple is a color of wealth and success. It’s a powerful color, but also represents creativity.

Brown is a friendly and earthy color, commonly associated with the outdoors.

Black is a color with a sophisticated feeling. It’s often what we think of with “sleek” brands because of its exclusivity and mystery.

Grey provides a feeling of security, reliability, and intelligence.

White provides a clean or neutral feeling. It’s a key color because it adds breathing room and what is referred to as white space.

Use a color scheme of at least three complimenatary colors to distinguish element importance and neutral colors for text. Create harmony through coordinated accent colors. Paletton is a great tool for generating a good scheme.

 Legalities

All content is proteceted with some sort of usage rights applied to it. Some content is made available, for free whereas some content is not made avaiable, or can be accessed for a fee. Regardless, the basics of copyright law is important for creatives to understand in the planning of web content.

 Copyright

Copyright (©) is a legal protection that an author has after creating content. When someone pays an author to produce a piece of work, that person or company owns the copyrights to that content. Art, media, mobile apps, original text, websites and anything that is not fidxed to a tangible form of expression can be copyrighted (cr) . Protections are applied once the work has been created, and are applicable for 75 years(?). Copyright is not the same as a Trademark, which is a law that protets the brand logo of a company.

 Fair Use

Fair Use is an exception to copyright protections in that it allows other people to make use of copyrighted work without permission. The caveat is that such works are not used for financial gain. This is especially useful for educators to use up-to-date information and media reporters to provide facts that support stories they propogate.

To be clear, fair use is (a) the purpose / character in use is for nonprofit educational purposes, (b) the nature of the cr work, (c) the amount used in relation to the cr work as a whole, and (d) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the cr work. When used for educational purposes or the greater good of humanity or to provide details about an event that someone else has previously noted, it is acceptable to use cr work. The amount of an original work being used is a factor in determining fair use: it is not fair use if usage impedes on the authors ability to earn money from their work.

 Public Domain

When a copyright expires, that work belongs to the public domain, allowing anyone to use it for whatever purpose. Whereas images and movies are fair game, music and sound effects, on the other hand, once they enter the public domain, still have applicable copyrights. Read more about the public domain.

 Licensing

Licensing is a contract that grants persmission to use cr works. For example, an End User License Agreement gives others the right to use cr work. It is important that YOU make the effort to protect content that you create. Although not a requirement, it would be beneficial to register your work with the government in the unlikely event that you find yourself in court due to someone using your product for profit. Registering a website or web app is a simple as uploading a zip file: expect to pay a fee.

Reading a license is a complicated task so it is in the best interest of all devs to write them as human-friendly as possible. Check out these terms of agreement: pretty straightforward!

Open-Source licenses encourages sharing, and is very useful for devs to utilize software that enables us to create our own products. Android, PHP and MySQL are examples of open-source products. Creative Commons, MIT and GPL are licenses that grant access to anyone without restriction, however, using such products to create something new makes that product a derivative of the original. As a result, new works must maintain the same license and be available to everyone.

A creative commons license is most common form of free licensing: many platforms allow authors to license content they create. Sharing work in this manner is important because it places the product in the hands of users: this is when product awareness trumps profit. One marketing tip to employ to offset any financial loss would be to create add-ons that can be purchased.

When someone has stolen or misused your work online and all other communication attempts have failed, sending a DMCA takedown notice is the First step to take. When sending a notice, provide the (a) name and contact information, (b) details of the infringed work and (c) location of the infringement on the site. Then, write word-for-word:

"I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized an act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed."

It is a best practices to create a privacy policy that explains to users not only how the website collects, stores and possibly uses their information, but also how content can be redistributed, if at all. It must include a physical address for the business with an opt-out clause.

 SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital for websites to attract business. Understanding how search engine algorithms use a collection of words to determine ranking order in the search index will improve the value of your site and help get it found. There are keyword research tools that can be used to analyze content in an effort to identify the best keywords to use for this purpose.

 Information Architecture

Information architecture is the way information is organized, labeled and interconnected within a website. References are made in how links make a navigation system, how sections are named and how categories are assigned. Good IA makes locating and understanding collections of information easy and this is done through proper naming and linking.

A major focus of IA is the ability to adapt or scale a website in anticipation of environmental changes. Use of web analytics, user feedback and research to evaluate change is a required skill. Scheduling reminders to monitor data sources and automating processes to run random site tests are tactics that will make the process less frustrating.

 Main Tenants of IA

The Morville/Rosenfield IA approach defines information as an ecological relationship between content, users and context. At the intersection of a venn-diagram, devs must understand purpose of content, what users care about and how it helps complete a goal. Thus, devs should adhere to four primary components.

Organization Structures divide content into distinct groups, establishing a hierarchal order amongst a collection of content. This is especially important when setting up navigation options and determining its scope as the goal is to organize information intuitively. For example, breadcrumbs or links can be used to show the current page in a website or move to another area of the site.

Labeling Systems group information to provide the context users need to understand how your website is organized. It is imperative to use descriptive words that users relate to, check for overlapping categories and use classifications that communicate attributes users can decipher.

Navigation Systems include menus and links that help users navigate relevant inforation. Navigation should be used to define a scope that devs want the users to follow and connect with then add a ‘filter’ or search options (autocomplete) for users to shift through popular content.

Search Systems allow users to enter a variety of criteria to discover relevant content, which is useful for users to search for something specific quickly when a website has complex information, many attributes and loads of content. Filter attributes provide users with options to apply a general or precise search of content.

 Evaluating IA

Such interactivity requires evaluating website analytics in order to understand users and how they utilize information. Analytics refers to popular content, information paths, link referrals and search terms, all of which can help organize information Low traffic to categories, low conversions, high bounce rates, low entrance rates and a high value of search properties help explain these analytics further. Sources of user data include analytics, search data, social media and surveys.

 Applying IA

It is important to test usability to ensure everything works as intended, or at minimum that users do not become frustrated. A general Usability Test will have users speak out loud while completing common tasks while the dev quietly observes. The results should indicate how the average user makes decisions and interpret how the user accessess the information and interface. The key is to pinpoint user engagement using metrics that will help qualify modifications that should be made.

There are various means by which devs can test IA, a good starting point of which would be to create then review a sitemap of the websites. A sitemap is a visual representation of website pages and sections with links that illustrate their connection. Ascertain the quality of IA organization by performing a Tree Test: a text-based sitemap given to a user who is asked to follow links to select the spot where they think they would find relevant information. Card sorting is another testing method that devs use to understand user perspectives related to how the user would organize the information and name categories. After testing users, it is helpful to provide a survey to receive feedback.