May 02 2011

Community Roundtable: How Important is Content Strategy on Your Sites?

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Ask nearly any blogger or website runner and they will tell you that content is king. We hear it all the time. However, still many of the design and development community ignore any responsibility for this aspect given that the users or client will usually be responsible for creating said content. But if content is king, we need to focus on this elemental liege as we develop and design the site and provide the king a proverbial carriage in which to travel in.



The concept of content strategy has been making waves throughout the design and development community for years now, yet there are those in the ranks who still discount the importance of this aspect of UX design. As creators of the environment that the content is delivered through, knowing the various ways that the content will be influenced and effected by our work is key for developing stragetic systems for connecting it with the users and enhancing the overall interaction with the data.

How Important is Content Strategy?

So what about your design and development work? In this post, the first of our new community roundtable discussion series, we are giving you the floor to openly discuss your ideas on this particular desi/dev topic. Use the comment section below to share with us your thoughts so that this topic dissection benefits from multiple perspectives and can really be fully explored.

Given that there are still those who fail to give this UX design element its due, we really do have to ask how important is content strategy? To you, your sites and your process, to the field as a whole, or even to the client and users? There are multiple angles that we can approach as we seek to assign value to this area of designing and developing for the Web. We look forward to your thoughts and personal views!

For More on Content Strategy:

Rachel Lovinger’s Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data and Kristina Halvorson’s The Discipline of Content Strategy are two fantastic posts that address this topic and provide some key insights on understanding how this aspect of UX design works. Highly recommended reading for those struggling to fully grasp this concept.

Also, you can learn more from Colleen Jones’ Make Your Content Make a Difference over at Smashing Magazine for more on the topic at hand.

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Comments and Discussions
  • Fabrizio T., 02 May 2011

    Very useful post, thanks.
    Since I am managing a weblog in another language than english (italian-language to be precise) I think that content strategies need to be planned very differently: italian audience is quite different to the american one (and to the english too) so several different thoughts are needed.
    For example, american users are more prone to open “positive” threads while italians are more devoted to “controversial” ones… what do you think on this matter?

    • Robert Bowen, 03 May 2011

      I think that is an excellent point. The audience is the reason for the content, and as such, what those audiences respond to is of the utmost importance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Gordon O., 02 May 2011

    I agree that content is king and you should certainly have a plan. Just adding content will keep your site or blog fresh. However, well thought out content will include keywords and geo-targeting to help boost your SEO results. I recommend a content plan that maps out new pages, blog posts, article submissions, indexing and social media mentions each month.

    • Robert Bowen, 03 May 2011

      Thanks for contributing to the dialog! I think however, we need to try and think beyond SEO, and more about fostering those meaningful interactions that Rachel Lovinger mentions are so key. Sure SEO can help get you traffic, but is that traffic meaningful? I think that with the proper strategy in place, the content will generate enough traffic without any SEO help.

      I totally agree with the plan you map out. Some very important points covered there.

  • Nathan, 02 May 2011

    how much content is enough though? is the idea to just keep on creating more and more or is there a happy medium?

    • Robert Bowen, 03 May 2011

      As long as you can keep the content fresh, engaging, and relevant then keep it coming. Your audience connected with what you had to say for a reason, so the perspectives you are offering are valued. As long as you still have something to say, more than likely, your audience is going to want to hear it.

  • Mr Z, 02 May 2011

    My employer gives lip service to content strategy, but it will be very unlikely to be implemented. There’s too many competing interests in the enterprise with varying levels of political and financial pull. We never take content off the site either. Once it goes up, it won’t come down. This affects the customer experience as it makes it much harder to find relevant content.

    IMO content strategy is wrapped with strategic messaging and cross channel communication, but unless the company wants to make that strategy, it will continue to serve balkanized content and messages to its customers.

    • Robert Bowen, 03 May 2011

      I agree with your breakdown, and that companies are going to have to make it a priority for their messages to make those connections with their customers.

      That is sad to hear about your employer, but unfortunately it happens all too often. We appreciate the addition to the discussion!

  • ngw, 02 May 2011

    Content strategy is considered fundamental in my company, but we’re a startup, we wouldn’t go anywhere without search engines.
    I endorse Kristina Halvorson’s book as the definitive resource on the matter, it’s absolutely outstanding IMVHO.

    • Robert Bowen, 03 May 2011

      Thanks for your comments on the matter. Do you use social media for your startup? And if so, what are the more effective ways that your company has incorporated this element into your content strategy?

      I just wonder how much more effective social media might be over search engines especially for a new company. Getting priority ranking in the beginning for a company can often be as difficult as getting a social media presence established. Anyway, just wondering what your thoughts were there.

  • Robin Jennings, 05 May 2011

    So many small business owners fail to even contemplate a content strategy. It is rather frustrating that it is done as an after thought.

    A few weeks ago i was discussing using a copy writer in the initial meetings with an accountant over an over haul of his website and it was met with ‘what on earth do i need that for’ then i read the content they provided me and it was embarrasingly bad.

    • Robert Bowen, 05 May 2011

      Thanks for participating in the roundtable, Robin! Agreed, it is frustrating when clients do not even give this important element any consideration or thought. Too often it is a mere afterthought, like you said.

  • Phil, 10 May 2011

    I work at a company, (Higher Ground Creative) that develops website as well as other marketing products and services and when working on a new website we always undertake a planning session with the client to understand not only their business and aims but also their audience and competition. Understanding that is crucial in knowing what content to deliver and in how to deliver it on the website, tha will be most relevant and important to them – this will then usually dictate the structure and layout of the site.

    Don’t always just think about what you have to say, but always take into account what your audience expects to hear from you and try and deliver a mixture of both.
    oh, and always adhere to SEO best practice, otherwise what is the point in having great content if you’re not allowing it to promote itself…

    • Robert Bowen, 23 May 2011

      Thanks Phil,

      Really appreciate the insights you offered here. It is true that understanding the audience and their expectations needs to be heavily weighed when considering how to set up and deliver the content to them.

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