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.