Scott Abel, of the Content Wrangler, has defined the role of content strategist as “concerned with the actions, resources, costs, opportunities, threats, and timetables associated with producing content” that meets an organization’s business goals and supports its overall vision.
That definition should ring familiar for many project managers. The elements of the content strategist role both parallel and intersect those of the project manager’s role in 5 ways: end user/customer focus; work planning and prioritization; incremental testing and POCs; work and resource management; and measuring (for) success.
Read on to discover the first of these intersects and to discover some of the tricks of the content strategist’s trade. (See 7 Definitions of Content Strategy (in 16 Years) for a glimpse into the evolution of content strategy.)
End User/Customer Focus
Long a staple of good information development, the directive to “know your audience” and to design your content accordingly forms the foundation of content strategy as a profession. This directive intersects with the project manager’s challenge to define and scope the end user requirements in terms that will both spur and bound a product development project. In an agile development environment, this effort results in user stories that focus the current development work and keep it moving forward.
The content strategist’s tool kit for recording audience discovery and requirements includes user personas or profiles and task analysis. Inputs to these deliverables are both quantitative and qualitative, and include demographic research, surveys, in-person interviews, site visits, and workplace observations. The benefits to a development project of acquiring a good set of user personas are too numerous to name here. Quoting UX guru Lene Nielsen suffices:
“The moment the designers begin to imagine how a possible product is to be used by a persona, ideas will emerge.”
In the world of content development, a focus on the end user – or website visitor – is often interpreted through the lens of minimalism: task-specific content must be available when and where it is most useful in the user’s journey. When the worlds of technical product development and content development intersect, this mandate can mean two things:
- The product deliverable becomes indistinguishable from the content deliverable.
- Content facilitates and responds to consistent user interaction with the product.
This collision will become more and more evident as the world embraces Industry 4.0 and all its implications for product and content design.
Ann Rockley, a pioneer in the profession of content strategy, calls content “the lifeblood of the organization.” So it behooves content and product development to work together to understand and develop for the end users’ interaction with the product – creating positive, even intuitive experiences for them. That is not a small statement. The collaborative development environment must expand to allow for the flow of ideas between content and product developers – including new discoveries about their common audience.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series – work planning and prioritization.