Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video What is "content"?, part of UX Foundations: Content Strategy.
- We can't talk about content strategy without first clearly defining content. What is content and what is its purpose? In its most basic form, the term "content" applies to anything that conveys meaningful information to a person. Content can be presented as text or graphics or images or video or audio. Looking at the world around you, you'll find content everywhere. The video you're looking at right now, content. The text that surrounds it, content. Each key on your keyboard contains content.
If you have a piece of art on your wall, that's content. Sculpture in a park, content. Markings on the road, content. Content is not defined by what it is as much as what it does. The term "content" applies to anything that communicates or transfers meaningful information to a person, emphasis on meaningful information. So, to know what content is, we need to know what meaningful information is and how this relates to content strategy.
The word "meaning" has been mulled over by philosophers and linguists for ages. For our purposes, let's assume that information is meaningful when it enables the transfer of an idea beyond the words or imagery itself. If I say the word "egg", it's just a reference to an object that looks and behaves like an egg. If I say "boiled egg", the meaning becomes more complex, implying the state of an egg after being submerged in water at boiling temperature for an extended length of time.
Just saying the words "boiled egg" may conjure up the sound of eggs boiling, their smell and taste, and even your most recent experience eating or not eating boiled eggs. You see here how the content, the words "boiled egg", transfer meaning beyond the words. The challenge content strategy faces with meaning is the assumption that meaning is universal. Actually, it's far from it. There is no guarantee the meaning I find in a piece of content will be the same as yours.
How we derive meaning from content depends on the context we're in, the language we use, our culture, upbringing, and many other factors. When I see the words "boiled egg", I immediately think of a slice of whole grain bread covered in cod caviar and sliced hard boiled eggs. This is a very Scandinavian thing. When my wife sees the words "boiled egg", she thinks of a singular egg boiled and eaten on its own. Same content, different meaning and reference. The content "boiled egg" transfers meaningful information, but not enough of it to perform a success transference of ideas.
That's where content strategy comes in. The content strategist facilitates successful communication through a transference of ideas to the target audience using the meaningful information found in content. The content strategist enhances the meaningful information of content by understanding the intended message, context it's presented in, and how to transfer it to the right audience.
Learn the four elements of constructing meaningful content, from identifying your audience and structuring and wireframing content to developing content guidelines and measuring the success of your efforts. Author Morten Rand-Hendriksen also shows you how to develop persona spectrums to better understand your users and evaluate the needs of important stakeholders and influencers.
- What is content?
- The components of content strategy
- Identifying stakeholders and audience
- Developing user persona spectrums
- Auditing your content
- Building guides, templates, and workflows
- Creating the content
- Measuring success