When the cats bite, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad… I’ve been spending time diving through the digital collections of the Library of Congress. It’s rabbit hole to some of the most delightful content on the web.
For example, the collection of An American Ballroom Companion, dance instruction manuals ca 1490 – 1920. This gorgeous collection is housed on a somewhat outdated site, but you can still get to the content (in both plain text and scans of the pages) if you dig far enough.
My current favorite is Immorality of modern dances, ed. by Beryl and associates. Here’s an excerpt form a chapter entitled “Sinful Modern Square Dances“.
They include, to a certain extent, the immodest Spanish “Pavane,” in which the performers look maliciously at each other, strutting like peacocks, fluttering, fondling, cooing and wooing, approaching and retreating and imitating something in the animal kingdom, until at last, tired of the contest, and from a certain distance, both parties rush like maniacs to the wild close embrace for which they were fully prepared.
I went to a fantastic meetup last night called “A Day in the Life of a Content Strategist”. The discussion ranged from the place of content strategy in an organization to the value of asking dumb questions. The lovely panelists were CC Holland from Cisco, Kris Corzine from eBay, and John Alderman from Razorfish. The panel was moderated by Frank Marquardt from Barbarian Group (you can read his write-up on the Barbarian Group blog).
The panel for "A Day in the Life of a Content Strategist" meetup. From left to right: CC Holland, Kris Corzine, and John Alderman.
The discussions about the mobile web and the artifacts of content strategy in particular have left me pondering.
The artifacts of content strategy
As good content strategy is largely invisible, how can content strategists prove the worth of their work? Here are some of the possible artifacts content strategy:
- A content inventory. It’s the first step towards understanding the content in context of the rest of the site.
- A projection of how the site will look and what it will be.
- Editorial style guides that include a section about SEO.
- Documents on brand, tone, and voice. As these can often be a bit waffly, include a ton of examples of correct use of tone/brand/voice so that everyone is on the same page.
- A long-term strategic document that clearly lays out the problems and possible solutions of the site. Include the primary, secondary, and tertiary goals of your work.
- A detailed and well-kept change log, listing the date, the words or phrases that changed, and the reason why. This will help to prove the credibility and hard work of the content strategists. It also prevents your organization from going in circles and repeating past mistakes.
The mobile web
The mobile web is being largely ignored in favor of apps. CC Holland called it “the ugly red-headed child of mobile”. One of the problems with this is that if I am on the go and need to find out if your shop is open, your address, or just to find some basic corporate information, I don’t want to download an app.
CC also talked about how this is difficult to manage as a content strategist because you don’t want to have two separate sets of content.
Kris Corzine added that this is another reason for keeping your content as concise and minimal as possible.
As mobile platforms become a larger focus for content strategists, I will be interested to see how we balance the needs of our different users. Although many people on-the-go just need concise nuggets of information, there are those who have time to kill on public transport or waiting in line and want to kill it by reading our content (and then there’s those who just want an app for that).
You can see other interesting tidbits from the meetup by searching twitter for #sfcontentstrategy.
Thanks to Frank, Stacey, and Michael for organizing an awesome event, and to the Barbarian Group for allowing us to meet in beautiful offices. I am looking forward to the next meetup and would recommend joining the group if you are interested in coming along too!