#heweb10 - Content Strategy: Key to Effective Web Content

Rick Allen (@epublishmedia) began his session with the statement: “The moment you add content to a website, you become a publisher. Shouldn’t you act like one?”

The key to an effective site, Allen stressed, is content strategy, the practice of planning content creation. A few things to consider regarding content:

  • Content is political. It is important to shift stakeholder’s concerns to match the college goals.
  • Content is time-consuming. It takes time to plan and create effective content.
  • Content needs to be effective. Effectiveness is a two-way street. Content needs to meets college requirements as well as user’ goals.

Quality content attracts, informs, engages, retains. Rick recommends avoiding the following on your web site:

  • Welcome and overview pages: these are normally redundant or trivial content
  • FAQ pages: FAQs compensate for ineffective site content
  • PDFs: PDFs sidestep the editorial process, compromising quality
  • Related Links: Lack points of distinction or effective brand messaging

Elements of Content Strategy

  • Content Audit: Take an inventory of your content, both from a quantitative and qualitative viewpoint
  • Content analysis: define the purpose of each piece of content and assess how it meet business and user needs; determine how should users respond to the content, and be aware of content they need but don’t know to look for. The analysis should consider the following factors: usefulness and relevance, accuracy, influence, completeness, voice and style, and usability
  • Planning and Implementation: Determine the roles stakeholders will play in the creation of content. Establish a clear work flow.
  • Message architecture: Identify what your organization wants to convey and how it wants to be perceived. Use clear, concise descriptions and be consistent in your brand message.
  • Governance: Audit. Analyze. Strategize. Repeat.

Content strategy is a plan, not a project. It is ongoing. Get people involved in the discussion and make them aware of the challenges that are present. Start small and get organizational buy-in through education and, if necessary, through comparing sites with proper content strategy and those without. Content strategy requires responsibility and accountability to succeed.

This post was written by:

Jeff Stevens

Jeff Stevens splits his time between being the webmaster of the University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the creative director for Union Design and Photo. He's scattered all over the internet, but your best chance to piece him together is through Do-Gooder.info or @kuratowa on Twitter.

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