Content is vital to designing the foundation for which a brand can begin to be followed and trusted. It’s why people come to websites in the first place and really the only reason why they might ever return. A truly effective content strategy shares information with consumers to help them improve their lives. It’s become increasingly clear that content is the cement that helps build an organization’s infrastructure and keeps the house from falling down. Brands, bloggers and businesses are constantly singing the praises of content marketing and how it can support a brand, but the crux of the issue is that few seem to truly understand what it is, what its main goals are, and at the base of it – how to go about developing an effective and sustainable plan around it.
Because the prevalence of content strategy is growing, there is no hard and fast formula to employ – yet. However, it’s important to know that content is about more than just being a good writer and that a strategy must be put in place. Organizations are asking for well thought out, engaging and targeted content with no clear view about the origination point. For all these reasons and more, web content strategy and quality content development should be seen as a service, bringing a union of multiple skills for an end product that effectively represents a brand and makes a connection with its user.
With a solid content strategy in place, content should be driving design, not the other way around. We’ve all become intimately familiar with the all too common, for-placement only (FPO) ban fencing both designers and content writers to both layout and content limitations. To optimize the process, even before the coding stage, the designer and content strategist must work together to create a sitemap. From there, revised draft content moves to approved content and into wireframes for final implementation and review.
When a team works in tandem to understand that the purpose of content planning is to deliver the best outcome – for designers, clients and strategists alike – the process turns into a more creative and smooth experience. This shift unifies a team, which builds trust in each other on a heightened level – understanding that the main goal is to deliver the best final product and ultimately, a better website. With this instill of trust, a firm who has put content strategists on the backend will understand that the first person to meet with a client should, in fact, be the content team.
Getting clarity on a brand’s or organization’s business goals, metrics and existing assets is what content people do best – from there, the team can plan and create great content and resonant design. This collaborative action between strategy and design eliminates time-wasting rounds of ‘what if’s’ and ‘let’s try’s’ that will extend launch time and strain an already tight budget. The project is much more apt to come in on time and with better conversions, all pointing to the value of better planning and communication through a solidly implemented content strategy.
There are some who say that content strategy is an unnecessary trend, or even superfluous. With this we disagree wholeheartedly. Web designers work wonders on visuals for content that is terribly written, or worse – simply not useful. Content strategy solves these problems even before they arise. It’s not a fad – it’s a component that works hand-in-hand to support the art and science of UI/UX strategy.