Week 3: Content and Navigation Strategies
We will showcase your work from last week. Tell us a bit about your design choices. Then we will seek feedback from your classmates.
- Project Overview
- Design Brief
In class, read the Introduction and Chapter One of Elements of Content Strategy (find it in the Doc Sharing section of the eCompanion.)
What key points should we take away from this? Where do you see yourself in the chain of content management and strategy?
Content strategy defines:
- key themes and messages,
- recommended topics,
- content purpose (i.e., how content will bridge the space between audience needs and business requirements),
- content gap analysis,
- metadata frameworks and related content attributes,
- search engine optimization (SEO), and
- implications of strategic recommendations on content creation, publication, and governance.
Content strategy can be broken down into many disciplines:
- Editorial strategy defines the guidelines by which all online content is governed: values, voice, tone, legal and regulatory concerns, user-generated content, and so on. This practice also defines an organization’s online editorial calendar, including content life cycles.
- Web writing is the practice of writing useful, usable content specifically intended for online publication. This is a whole lot more than smart copywriting. An effective web writer must understand the basics of user experience design, be able to translate information architecture documentation, write effective metadata, and manage an ever-changing content inventory.
- Metadata strategy identifies the type and structure of metadata, also known as “data about data” (or content). Smart, well-structured metadata helps publishers to identify, organize, use, and reuse content in ways that are meaningful to key audiences.
- Search engine optimization is the process of editing and organizing the content on a page or across a website (including metadata) to increase its potential relevance to specific search engine keywords.
- Content management strategy defines the technologies needed to capture, store, deliver, and preserve an organization’s content. Publishing infrastructures, content life cycles and workflows are key considerations of this strategy.
- Content channel distribution strategy defines how and where content will be made available to users. (Side note: please consider e-mail marketing in the context of this practice; it’s a way to distribute content and drive people to find information on your website, not a standalone marketing tactic.)
How will users make a path through your website?
Take a closer look at very content-heavy websites. Click around the main and secondary navigation, link lists in sidebars, links at the bottom or under articles/pages/posts, and links in the footers. What sort of mechanisms need to be in place to allow for this kind of multi-dimensional navigation?
Creating and Using Taxonomies
The answer, ultimately, is that your site needs a taxonomy. Taxonomy is the science or technique of classification.
On most Web sites, information can be classified by:
- Topic – these tend to be the topics, issues and special interest of your readers, members, customers, visitors. For example, a trade association in the auto industry might have topics related to safety, marketing, supply chain, quality.
- Type – these tend to refer to the content collections on a Web site. For example, a think tank might have news, policy briefs, commentary, testimony and podcasts.
How are topics different from types of content? Review a few content-heavy sites and identify what topics they have versus types of content.
For example, Cracked.com includes these overarching topics, among others:
- historical curiosities
- comic book oddities
- amazing scientific facts
- human relationships
The same site can be broken down into many types of content, including:
- list-based articles
- Photoplasty contests
- collections of links to artciles on other sites
Why does every content-heavy site needs a taxonomy? And how do you use a taxonomy?
- Different people navigate according to their needs and interests.
On any given day, a journalist might want to see all of your company’s press releases, regardless of topic. On another day, the same journalist might want to know everything your organization has to offer in the area of food safety. So let same journalist navigate by both content topic and type!
- Tagging content by taxonomy allows you to relate content by topic and type.
So, a news item on elections would have a sidebar containing other news items related to elections, recent publications and events realted to the elections, and other recent news items (regardless of topic).
- A taxonomy allows you to connect people with their interests.
Let your visitors sign up for news by their interest areas, let them personalize their Web experience on your site, and compare the interests of your members with the content you have online.
As in everything related to the design and implementation of websites, the needs of your user come first. You must get to know your target audience as well as you can before you can decide upon the navigation and content strategy that will best appeal to them.
Here's an article on three user-centered navigation strategies:
Can you think of any other innovative, user-centered methods of pulling a user through a website?
No new assignments this week. Work on your midterm project.