content strategy

Content Strategy for everything

When I say “content” most people will immediately think Web Content, because that is largely how the word content is used now. Perhaps there is a better word that no one has thought of yet, but for the moment – let’s talk about content.

A common generalization that people make is that content is copy, and that as such it is managed in a different way than design or functionality or illustrations or photos or video. The design team goes on about their business and at the end of the project – after innumerable text edits made in documents with no context – the text is crammed into the design. Shoehorned in, in many cases.

As Rachel Lovinger points out in her excellent article, everything is content. Content cannot be successfully managed as a discrete element, because it isn’t. Content is the meat of the story, and the foundation of the presentation. A good content strategist will understand how to make the content the star, as it should be.

Sometimes, content strategy will determine an unexpected outcome. You think you need a website (and granted, you probably do), but perhaps your content would be better presented as a video, or a Flash demo, or a mural on the side of a building. The content (and the content strategist) should determine the methodology, and not the other way around.

For example, say someone needs a corporate training video. They decide they need a video because the last one was made in 1978 and is no longer relevant. The client will normally seek out a company that makes corporate training videos, get a quote, and then start working with the vendor to develop content.

A content strategist would start by distilling the message that must be conveyed and then determine the best method for conveyance. Perhaps a video is the right solution, but it might be cheaper and more effective to deliver the training via an interactive tool or an all-day seminar.

Overall quality of work suffers because people focus on the end product before they know what the content is. Smart design means content comes first. Message before method.

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