Content strategy has gained a lot of momentum in recent years even though there remains some confusion about what it does and how it complements the UX design process. After all, do you really need a content strategist if you already have a UX team? Let me talk about the value content strategy can bring to any organisation…
Firstly, I believe that UX and content strategy aren’t separate fields, they are inter-related and need each other to generate the ‘perfect’ marriage (ideally) between content and context. In the typical UX model, content strategy sits alongside things like Usability and IA but also operates outside that framework by taking on wider issues such as governance and workflow.
We are all aiming at the better user experience, our paths overlap, but we all have our own unique areas of expertise.
At the moment you’ll probably find more UX experts being used in agencies than content strategists because I think the market is still getting to grips with the benefits content strategy has to offer.
‘Content strategy’ is a relatively new term used to describe what content experts have been doing for a quite a while now. It’s not to be confused with copywriting, although that might be an aspect of it, it’s more about optimising content to ensure the client hits their business objectives whilst ensuring target audience needs are satisfied.
It’s all about being able to deliver user-centric content.
The benefits of content strategy for UX design
Let’s tick off some of the benefits of taking on a content strategist by look at some of the tools they deploy:
- A content audit will give you a very detailed overview of the state of your website and the areas for improvement.
- Content modelling will then take that a step further by illustrating how to optimise your content for improved user experience. This will save you time, introduce consistency, reduce errors later down the line and usually gives the whole time a very vivid idea of what to expect. It prevents content from being an after-thought and having to hack templates once they have already been delivered.
- A content strategist will also help you with tone and voice. Even if your site only has three pages, there are multiple platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter out there for your brand, are you communicating appropriately at the right time, to the right user?
- And then there is competitor research, I think a content strategist would be invaluable in identifying what you should be avoiding or improving upon in their analysis of other sites from a user perspective.
The four areas above are just some of the insights that a content strategist could bring to the table. Feel free to throw in SEO into the mix for good measure or even a conversation around structured content to help future proof your online business across multiple devices. All should help to ensure the project delivers on time and reduce errors, therefore reducing cost and improving efficiency.
Along the way the content strategist will be working alongside the UX team in close partnership, from initial research, into wireframing, deployment and testing. As long as the two parties are communicating effectively then all should be on track.
However, I do want to end with a note of caution.
On a recent website relaunch project I was brought inhouse to work directly with a client to help their business understand how to become an effective content publisher. I was working in tandem with an agency who had been asked to deliver the platform and design. I had very little contact with the UX person on their team and when it came to the ‘big reveal’ with the client it was a spectacular fail. That’s because even though the UX and content component slotted together nicely, there were critical business goals that had not been addressed sufficiently.
I believe that situation could have been addressed if UX and CS had been allowed a louder voice in the project. We are not here just to provide content, an IA proposal or wireframe, we are here to help your business adapt to the digital landscape and become a success.