Transcript from the "Content & Systems Design" Lesson
>> So here is a larger framework for content strategy beyond activities, this sort of divides things up a little bit. So if we think about it in terms of content design and systems design, where systems design is really providing the foundation of our content strategy activities. The role of content strategy throughout any project process and throughout, in fact, the content life cycle beyond project which is in terms of maintenance is to define content.
[00:00:26] Make content recommendations, prioritize the content in terms of how and when it will be presented in the digital experience. Integrate the content activities that are happening across teams. Systematize those activities so that we know what to expect, when to expect it, whose roles are responsible. And from a content perspective, what kind of model we're using for content reuse, and then measure its success.
[00:00:53] So let's dig into that just a little bit more. So content design is a relatively new term that was introduced by Sarah Richards in the UK. If you visit gov.uk ever, just as a sort of point of interest, this was the British government made a decision that they were going to completely digitize.
[00:01:18] Or make government services digital friendly, basically. So if you've ever tried to like, go and figure out can I renew my driver's license online or how do I do this thing through the government? It is a nightmare experience just about anywhere in the US. And the UK determined we are, and they had sponsorship from this right from the top, that we are going to completely redesign our digital services around user needs specifically.
[00:01:43] So if you go to gov.uk, what you will see is that everything is based on tasks. And this has become sort of like the holy grail for content strategists everywhere because now we're not looking at this like gorgeous marketing. The UK's super awesome website. It is all around the user experience.
[00:02:00] So Sarah introduced this term, content design, to mean using data and evidence to give the audience what they need, at the time they need it, and in a way that they expect. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is how we should be approaching the ideal digital experience in any platform for any tool anywhere on the internet.
[00:02:20] So when we think about the editorial side of things, this is really when we're talking about what the content is, what is the substance of that content. What's the meat in our content sandwich. These are questions that you, that often times in marketing and brand will tackle, what is their mission?
[00:02:39] Who are our target audiences for this content? What's our point of view with the content? What are brand and language standards or legal requirements do we need to comply with? What's our voice and tone? And then what's our publishing cadence? So that was a question about amount of content if we are gonna be regularly publishing content, like news or blog posts, or system updates.
[00:03:01] How often do we need to be thinking about content changes? And what kind of resources do we need to allocate towards that? And on the flip side, if we don't have resources to allocate towards it, then how does that have an impact on our publishing cadence? Okay? And then this is from the experience design perspective.
[00:03:24] And hopefully, folks that work with experienced designers, who do experience design recognize some of these questions. What are users needs and preferences, not just who are they, but what do they need and what do they prefer when it comes to content? What does our ecosystem look like? What are their journeys?
[00:03:39] Not necessarily just the journeys that we design, but the journeys that they're actually taking. What formats will our content take across the digital experience? How will our design patterns shape our content across different screen sizes and beyond? And what metrics will we use to measure our performance? So these are all questions that content strategy in the center as a practice and with all those activities that we discussed begin to tie together the answers to these questions.
[00:04:11] Because when you make a decision about experience, you're having an impact on editorial and vice versa, okay? All right, let's look at systems design. This is the dictionary definition of systems design, which is the process of defining the architectural modules and data for a system to satisfy specified requirements.
[00:04:30] So, if in content design, the requirements are being set. We also need to have systems designed to make sure that they're being delivered upon as needed. And that requires architecture, it requires appropriate data to be attached to it, etc. So, this is where we come into our contents structure.
[00:04:49] How are we organizing the content for browse-and-find? This is also a part of experience. But it is a structural question that can and should be addressed in addition or in concert with what are the metadata frameworks, taxonomy and content models that we're using. To categorize and reuse content so that the machines can pay attention to it and do what they need to do with it.
[00:05:13] What tags are we using on our content that are most intuitive for users as they are sorting through the content? How are we going to structure it for future reuse? And then what requirements do we need to be considering for our content for personalization, dynamic delivery, or AI?
[00:05:27] We can have a little chat about AI later if you want to in preparation for all the stuff I knew was gonna be thrown at. Did some learning about it and I came to the conclusion that no one I know is ready for AI [LAUGH]. And then finally the systems that we discuss in process.
[00:05:47] One of the things I hear a lot from the folks in my workshops is that they really have little to no control over what the process looks like when it comes to content. The very least that we can do is try to map our workflow to identify where content is falling through the cracks and begin to have that conversation with our larger team.
[00:06:06] And we're lucky at because we're often called in to design systems like this. Where we are making recommendations about workflow, and models, and roles, and responsibilities, and governance frameworks and so on. So that is a part of the content strategy process. I'd say nine times out of ten.
[00:06:22] When I talk to folks in workshops, they are focused more on the front lines of content and not necessarily responsible for what's happening to move it through the organization. Which can be frustrating.