The truth about content strategy

When I ask you about content strategy, what are you thinking? Are you thinking about populating your new website with copy or are you thinking longer term?

When we meet with clients to ‘redesign’ their websites, they are often so fixated on the challenges surrounding the copy for their new site, that they fail to think longer term. This is a dangerous mistake as Kristina Halvorson makes clear in an article she wrote for .net magazine:

Many people assume that content strategy is about content creation – but in fact, that’s the easy bit. It’s what Halvorson calls the “messy stuff” surrounding the long-term management of content that forms the real challenge. Essentially, she explains, it’s all about asking the right questions early on in the process – “Who is the content coming from? Who owns the content? How will that content be maintained and developed after launch?”

“So really it’s about working to move organisations’ focus away from launching content and towards looking at content as something that lives within a long-term life cycle. And that requires a longer commitment than just a copywriter and a project manager for the website launch.”

This is a huge issue! We recommend that our clients create a new position in their organisation, one dedicated to content strategy – a content editor.

This person is not only responsible for initial content population but also for the ongoing quality of content on the site. They are responsible for editing what is added but also (and potentially more importantly) for removing content that is no longer helpful.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to consider the long term management of content on your site. As Kristina says:

Who owns the content? How will that content be maintained and developed after launch?

What is your approach to the management of content? Is an editor the right approach or is training of content contributors more important? Lets discuss the best way forward in the comments.

  • The role of a content editor would be useful for a lot of companies. But for smaller companies, this probably isn’t feasible. 
    I think that generating content from your team spreads the responsibility, if they are better trained in content creation then there is less editing work, however the clean-up could be assigned to one or two of the team members.

  • My favourite part of Erin Kissane’s “Elements of Content Strategy” is where she says “The web is a noisy, crowded place.  Give readers the equivalent of good light and a quiet room.”  I think that’s good advice for short term content, or for something that will last long term.

  • This is the most frustrating part of being a sole web designer. I work with a lot of small businesses and wish I could figure out a way to be their content editor on an ongoing basis within a budget they could afford AND that I could live off of. :)