Content strategy at a micro scale

Notes from Clara Guasch’s talk at Congility 2014, Content strategy at a micro scale.

Having focussed on the importance of content strategies for small companies, at the end of her talk Clara was keen to know:

‘Was any of it at all useful to people in large organisations?’

The resounding answer from the audience was yes. And here’s why.

Clara started with another great analogy:

We really don’t think about the risks associated with publishing bad content. It can damage your reputation and with that lose you customers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chosen between two companies (who otherwise seem equal) based on the quality of their web presence.

This tweet summarising one of Clara’s key points presents a question we should be asking anyone who produces content for our website:

Going back to Mike Atherton’s keynote, these key messages are the benefits we sell to our customers – what do we have that will make them better versions of themselves?

Your key messages are one of four things you need to identify to produce useful content:

  1. key messages
  2. your identity
  3. goals
  4. user needs

A major take away from this presentation for me was something that Clara identified towards the end of the presentation:

Content strategy goes beyond the website; it benefits the business as a whole.

As you develop a strategy of any kind it forces you to think about all areas of your work. It prompts you to ask big questions – what are you trying to achieve, what is the context you’re working in, what are the barriers – gives you perspective and clarity, and can identify areas where further work is needed.

How to design workflows that work

Notes from Jeff Eaton’s session at Congility 2014, Workflows that work under pressure.

This was one of my most anticipated talks from the conference. The theme is particularly relevant to me as we prepare to move to a new CMS. Alongside all the technical considerations, my team is concerned with how it will work for our editors. It’s our responsibility to design the workflow and processes they will use.

Jeff kicked off with a great analogy for working with limited tools, something I think we can all identify with:

After we were mesmerised by this story, Jeff went on to give us some practical steps to designing CMS workflows that work.

Don’t overwhelm

  • inexperienced users need clear paths
  • experiences users need shortcuts
  • both need consistency

Speed tasks, not forms

  • understand the processes and goals and build the tool around these tasks
  • map all stages in the process and find cutovers between online and offline

Workflows should work

Don’t focus on approval systems:

  • model the state of the content – draft, approved, published, archived etc
  • then identify responsibilities – who is responsible for content in each state
  • then develop a process

Divorce the design

  • remove location based restrictions from content creation
  • focus on priority and grouping of content and not where it will end up and how it will look

Our new CMS has already been chosen but there’s a lot that still needs to be done to make it fit for purpose. These practical tips have really helped me to focus my mind on what we need to do to achieve that.

A brand is…

Notes from Mike Atherton’s keynote at Congility 2014, Branding isn’t bollocks.

Here’s an idea: people don’t buy products, they buy empowered versions of themselves (picture Super Mario after collecting a Super Mushroom). As we’re in the process of reviewing our postgraduate prospectus this is something at the forefront of my mind – we need to sell the benefits and prospects our degrees give our graduates.

How we do this is partly through our brand. But what is a brand?

  • A promise to your customer
  • A reflection of who you are, not what you aspire to
  • A focused, differentiated idea derived from your core purpose and values

And I think this quote from Wally Olins sums it up nicely:

A brand is an idea that you stand for, made real by what you do and expressed through your personality.

Lately I’ve been working on defining our personality and tone of voice for the website. The following tweet from this talk confirms something I found in my research:

The biggest take away for me from this session was the need to differentiate ourselves, in our brand and our personality. Who in higher education isn’t driven by excellence, academic freedom, and world-class teaching and research? As Rahel Bailie says, it’s all blah blah blah:

We need to find our niche, to identify what sets us apart from other universities, and convey that consistently through our content.

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