Tag Archives: agile

Gamestorm to futureproof your content strategy and design

content strategy gamestorming session

I’m a big fan of Gamestorming – creating really fun interactive sessions motivate participants to focus on a project objective. Using the element of play can be really useful in these instances, as so many of our meetings are dominated by distraction with people answering email on their devices and disengaged. Introducing novel exercises can really counter the monotony of established office routines.

The ‘Pre Mortem’
The exercise I selected from the Gamestorming book was the Pre Mortem – essentially focusing the group on what could go wrong with a project. Asking a group to spend time actively ripping apart a proposed vision or product is actually really fun, and something people aren’t usually asked to do.

Here’s how the hour was organised:

  • 10 mins intro (explain project and point of exercise)
  • 10 mins 2 x groups of 5 – generate disasters
  • 5 mins 1 x person from each group to stick up on wall
  • 5 x mins dot voting
  • 15 mins back into groups – take the top 4-5 and brainstorm mitigation for each
  • 5 mins 1 x person from each group to stick up on wall
  • 10 min summary of what we’ve learnt

Steven LAWW 3IMG_5072IMG_5076IMG_5078

With so many meetings booked in our calendars, many of which overrun or haven’t an established agenda or goal, it’s easy to take the simpliest path – attend, keep participation to a minimum, and then head to the next meeting. With a bit of forward planning, and maybe testing on a few willing participants in advance, it’s possible to create a really constructive session that really bonds the team and helps them see the project (with its many challenges and solutions) in a new light.

Friday #Content Reads: 28.04.16

joe haldeman debut novel

Hi Gang! I’ve just spent a delightful couple of weeks restoring my blog after meddling with the database too often. Lesson learnt. Moving forward I’ll aim to curate a list of my most interesting content strategy reads this week.

Here goes….

Your Media Business Will Not Be SavedJoshua Topolsky
Interesting to see how the industry is now revisiting the monetisation vs quality debate…
“So over time, we built up scale in digital to replace user value. We thought we could solve with numbers (the new, seemingly infinite numbers the internet and social media provides) what we couldn’t solve with attention. And with every new set of eyeballs (or clicks, or views) we added, we diminished the merit of what we made. And advertisers asked for more, because those eyes were worth less. And we made more. And it was less valuable.”

Things I learned working on SerialKristen Taylor
Some interesting tips here for how to social your audio and engage your community between episodes. And if you haven’t read about that NPR audio experiment here you are.

What Networks Does BuzzFeed Actually Use? Zack Liscio
Nice infographic here of the Buzzed distribution strategy. Now presented in a million strategy presentations around the world.

2016 guide to free online SEO training courses
I thought this was a really good resource for journalists. From beginner to intermediate level.

Although I do have to admit that my most interesting read has been this bad boy. Probably the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read.

Boom!

forever_war

Use Creative Writing Techniques To Shape Your Content Design

content strategy creative writing session

This week I attended another of Tom Hewitson‘s excellent Content Lab sessions, this time looking at how creative writing exercises can feed into content design. Although Content Strategy/Content Design/ContentMarketing are fairly new disciplines, it’s already fairly easy to follow ‘established’ methods which may not break any exciting new ground. I know that might be controversial so I’ll let that one hang for a while…

Anyway, at the session we had the wonderful Jacqui Lofthouse who took us through a series of exercises like the following:

  • Individual: Here’s a random photo of a person and answer the following – what’s his/her name?, What do they most regret? Who do they hate? What stops them sleeping at night?
  • Group: Flesh out your characters further with some inspiring ‘props’ (a series of envelopes with random objects e.g. a dollar note etc). What is the connection between the objects and the character?
  • Group: Write, without editing, about your character for six minutes. Here’s a scene to get you going…

Apart from being fun session (I rarely go to creative writing sessions) I found the techniques above really focused the mind around what the character thought and felt in a moment in time. The six minute stream-of-conscious approach was also good at fleshing out aspects that might have been easily deleted in the writing process.

You can see how this might be useful in persona-building activities and is certainly something I’d consider with my own team. However, I would have to be careful not to conflate an entirely fictitious character with a user: personas do have a habit of taking on a life of their own. But as a quick exercise to really engage a team around a topic/challenge, this was really fun exercise to explore.

We The Unicorns On The Gadget Show!

A couple of weeks back The Gadget Show team came down to our office to film a typical day with We The Unicorns. It was a really exciting day, with some great interviews with creators like Savannah Brown who popped in to tell us all about her new book, face-swap and generally look amazing in our Unicorns photoshoot.

Being approached by tv broadcasters is just such a great reflection of the hard work the team have put in other the last six months. We’re already attracting more than a million users every month and that’s down to the talent of the team but also the fantastic comments and interaction from the Unicorns community – that’s YOU!

So…..here’s the video. Onwards and upwards!

Best content strategy links of the week: September 12, 2014

Greetings interweb people!

Like some beautiful burning phoenix rising from the flames I present to you my often-cited but never seen, content strategy links of the week. I’ve been a little preoccupied by a new job recently but no more excuses – let’s get this off the ground again. So here it is, in all it’s glory, repeated every Friday.

(I mean the blog series, not the actual same content.  That would be ridic.)

Next Radio 2014 Highlights
Obviously, I’m going to mention the UK radio industry event that was held in London on Monday first. I’ve written about it here but it’s worth flagging that the presenter videos from the event are now being posed on Next Radio website. Thanks to James Cridland and Matt Deegan for organising the event.

The container model and blended content – a new approach to how we present content on the Guardian
Interesting overview by Nick Haley on the content strategy decisions behind the new responsive Guardian website. Nice notion around ‘blended content’ and how they are using this new modular approach to inspire serendipity and increase dwell times. As Nick himself writes: Blended containers were a vehicle which exposed content to people they may not ordinarily encounter but is interesting to them. The containers both support existing patterns of behaviour and may spur on new patterns.”

Interestingly, when I visited the site it took me a while to realise I wasn’t actually on the Beta version. But then again, that might be me just being thick.

Vertical campfires: our user research walls
I loved this overview of the UX process at GDS from Kate Townsey. Check out the use case scenarios. Notice these are not fully-fleshed personas which have the tendency to drift off into fantasy – this is just enough detail to help the team focus on the user needs.  And notice it’s on a wall, not hidden away on someone’s laptop.

How we built the the new wired.co.uk homepage
Again another open, honest account of a responsive site launch – and I don’t just like this because of the cool parallax formatting (although the responsive ads absolutely rock). I particularly like the question posed by Pete Miller: “…what is the purpose of a website’s own content discovery experience when there are extremely popular purpose-built cross-site content discovery platforms – search engines, social media, content curation apps such as Zite or Flipboard”.

I don’t pretend to have the answer to this either, but worth pondering.

Does journalism still require impartiality?
Great article by Kellie Riordan on the importance of editorial curation to help users identify the best bits of info each day. This has to be balanced, of course, with the fact that people are now posting clips faster to social media than can be identified, verified and curated by journalists.

What has changed in the digital era is not so much the need for impartiality but the method to achieve it. New media prefer transparency and plurality to achieve impartiality, old media achieve it with objective methods. Let’s acknowledge that both methods can lead to quality journalism, or for that matter, to poor journalism.

But it’s also important to recognise what hasn’t changed. Audiences now have access to more information and a variety of different perspectives to form their own conclusions. Do audiences need a journalist to de-code the news or contextualise the facts anymore? I think they still do. This is what hasn’t changed. “

Does The Internet Still Need Comments? Yes, But A Different Kind
Interesting article on a the recent trend of bloggers and publishers removing comments from their articles. It also highlights how users are simply using the comments section to share the article on their friend’s Facebook pages and not commenting at all. In which case, should we really be calling these comments at all?

Responsive Web Design Podcast
No weekly content strategy roundup would be complete without mentioning Karen McGrane and Ethan Marcotte’s excellent weekly podcast on responsive design. They’ve interviewed some great companies (Capital One, Fidelity, Marriott and The Boston Globe) about their responsive design decisions and it’s compulsive listening. Highly recommended.

And finally, fans of this post will know that I have an eclectic taste in music. I found this the other day and I’m still trying to make sense of it. Good ol’ Brian…

See you next week!

Jon Norris on a 1950s approach to content strategy: The content marketing show 2013

Jon Norris, from the accountancy firm Crunch, look at some of the tired and tested processes that we could use for our content strategy.

  • We have more innovations that we could ever need, in the history of innovations, it’s all happening NOW.
  • Mature services like Twitter or Facebook open up their services via API to help their users and overcome platform silos.
  • After trying numerous workflow tools, Jon decided to use a whiteboard with post it notes – based on the agile Kanban board method
  • If your software methods aren’t working, burn them.
  • A note board can show instant visibility, reduce software costs and reduces time for planning and reporting.

Jon signed off by asking us to reconsider our software choices.

It was a simple message but well presented. I probably wasted hours of my life flitting from Google Drive to WordPress. Sometimes easiest is best.

User Centred Design and Agile: notes from UXPA UK event

The UXPA UK panel .

Last night, I attended another fantastic UXPA UK event hosted at Sapient House, London, to discuss agile in the context of user centred design.

As a content strategist I always find these events rewarding because content strategy shares many of the challenges faced by UX teams. We all want to champion user-centric content, hitting business objectives by bringing the users and clients closer to the design process. Plus, it’s always good to discuss the latest trends over a nice, cold beer!
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Agile, Lean UX and Content Strategy: London meetup


Last night I attended another London Content Strategy meetup session hosted by Jonathan Kahn and Richard Ingram at Google Campus.

The session kicked off with an excellent presentation from freelance agile and Lean user experience architect Sophie Freiermuth (aka @wickedgeekie) and was followed by a series of Gamestorming exercises to address key issues faced by the group when it came to deploying agile at work.

I’ve embedded Sophie’s presentation below and here are my notes…
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