- There are about as many ways of approaching content strategy as there are people practicing in this discipline. One of the many challenges of content strategy, which is also one of the qualities that makes it so exciting is there's no clear path to follow, no list of steps, no perfect method. To be honest, content strategy is really an infinite number of interconnecting circles, all of which affect all the others. In other words, no matter where you start, you'll have to circle back, because your results will have an impact on all the other work you've done.
To force some method on this madness, several bright minds in the content strategy field have tried to formulate systems that can be applied to most projects. One such system was created by Kristina Halvorson from the content strategy agency, Brain Traffic, and proposed in her book, Content Strategy for the Web. Halvorson's system presents content strategy as a circle split in two main halves, content components on the left, and people components on the right. Each of the halves are, in turn, split in two.
The content components consisting of substance and structure, the people components, workflow and governance. The idea of these separations is to identify the different overall components that must be covered to create a holistic content strategy. Halvorson's system is analytical, and draws clear lines of separation between each component, while at the same time reminding us they are all interconnected as part of a larger whole. Another system approaches the problem in a more streamlined fashion, organizing the different components of content strategy along a timeline for practical application.
In The Elements of Content Strategy, content strategist Erin Kissane outlines this process as three distinct stages, evaluate, design, and execute. In the evaluation stage, research and analysis takes place to establish a solid understanding of the stakeholders, subject matter, and audience. In the design stage, planning and structural decisions are made to ensure the content is organized and presented in an easily accessible and understandable way. In the final execute stage, structures are put in place for the actual creation, publication, and maintenance of the contents, both short-term and long-term.
In the course, I'll present you with a hybrid system of sorts, combining these two methodologies of the four stage approach, that puts focus on people, motivations, and goals first, then analysis and structure, guides, templates, and workflows, before closing the whole thing out with creation and management. To make it easy to follow along, I've split each of the stages into discrete chapters in the course with real-life examples from the example project, Core Resource, at the end of each chapter to show how it all comes together in the end.
The Exercise Files for this course also contain a print-out of this process overview that breaks down the vital components for each stage.
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