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Vision Blog

Thought Leadership, Best Practices, Insights and Examples

  

What Is Content Strategy – And Why Do You Need It?

by Jessica Terashima
Post Date:08/18/2015

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If you’re responsible for maintaining a website you’ve probably heard the buzzwords “Content Strategy.” Have you ever wondered what Content Strategy is or why you should care? Content Strategy goes hand-in-hand with other user-focused efforts – like UX and Information architecture -- to design great experiences for your visitors.

Content Strategy is More Than A Buzzword

Content Strategy, according to expert Ginny Redish, involves “thinking strategically about your content, across all departments and groups, and connecting all the ways you touch people.” Government websites, which have a clear and critical mission to serve their communities, benefit from Content Strategy, because it leads to more successful interactions with constituents.

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Creating Positive Interactions

Content Strategy can help create a positive experience every time a visitor comes to your site. Whether they’re searching for information, filling out an application or just trying find out a great place to stay. Good content flows like an easy conversation, seamlessly guiding visitors to the goal they seek with clarity. And telling the right story – either with words or pictures – at the right time.

According to Redish, before we put content on our site, we should be able to answer the follow questions, and make sure it delivers against its mission:

  • Why is it here? (purpose)
  • Who is it for? (persona – i.e. Residents, Visitors or Business)
  • What is it? (is it the right kind of content)

The City of Chula Vista provides clear action buttons for different kinds of visitors – so they don’t have to search through extraneous information to find relevant content.  

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Highlighting Important Information and Avoiding Content Silos

Content Strategy can also help you prioritize messaging and ensure important information gets seen by visitors. Leveraging different elements of your site, such as the main navigation, home page banner and action buttons can help you highlight key pathways. If your site has multiple content “owners” make sure to coordinate teams and to form an integrated approach. Your visitor shouldn’t have to suffer through a disjointed experience due to your organization’s internal silos.

The City of Newport Beach highlights important information about dealing with drought in the top notification bar, in the Trending section, and as one of the rotating home page images.  By posting the information in multiple formats and locations, the City ensures that the message will be seen by visitors.

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Planning Ahead

With multiple stakeholders, how do you keep things consistent and well organized? By having a plan – and sticking to it.  Every piece of content should be considered in advance and should be evaluated according to the Why? Who? What? questions described above.

Your content approach has to be embraced by all teams to avoid inconsistencies and the resulting fragmented experience. Document your content plans in advance and share it with the entire content team. If it helps, consider creating a spreadsheet to track what content is on what page – it will be much easier to update if you know where things are.

In addition, website usability demands a few basic best practices be incorporated as content gets developed.

  • Copy blocks should be brief, broken up by sub-headers and easy to scan
  • Links should be written plainly, so they’re easy to follow
  • Copy should be written with personas in mind, and should immediately deliver the information the visitor wants

Example: County of Monterey uses mega menus to provide quick, descriptive links to a myriad of service functions, making it easy to find the services that visitors want.

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 By putting your visitor – their goals, interest and time – first, your website content can consistently exceed expectations and delight your community. That’s the true goal of Content Strategy.

Learning More

This article has just scratched the surface of the content strategy topic.  If you would like to learn more and keep current with the latest trends, here are a few resources to explore:

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