Content strategy FAQs with Kristina Halvorson

Did you tune into UIE’s fascinating Content Strategy for the Web book club last Tuesday? We did. It was less of a book discussion and more of a Q&A with the author Kristina Halvorson about content strategy and how to apply it. Here are some of my takeaways from the hour-long chat:

1. Are there any easy ways in to content strategy?

Start small. Take on a smaller project and apply the techniques and tools of content strategy to it; bring those skills into a UX or design project, for example. Alternatively, pick a pain point and audit, research and plan solutions for that. Then take that experience and build on it, or hawk it around.

2. What’s in a content strategy document?

Actually, Kristina creates two documents: a research summary and a strategy report. The first shows the results of your research and acts as a benchmark for where the project is at: what content they have, what the competitors are doing, user experience, stakeholder interviews, risks, assumptions, and so on.

The second covers the Substance (what you want to say, how and why); Structure (eg, gap analysis), Workflow (from request to archive) and Governance (the agreed standards by which you will judge the content).

3. How do you present a content strategy report?

A report, or a slide presentation works well depending on the time you have to present it. The main aim is to get all the stakeholders aligned on the strategy.

4. No budget for a content strategist?

Then who else could take on the tasks? An information architect who is prepared to go beyond a high-level audit and get stuck into a qualitative review of the content they are organising. Web writers are also invested in good content – if they can get into the early planning meetings, then they can ask those awkward questions about creation, delivery and governance.

5. Is content strategy or SEO a better spend?

It depends. This thought might help you decide: you can be ranked in the top three of Google search results but if the user comes to your site and finds useless or out of date content, they’ll click away – so do you need to fix your content first?

6. How do you measure content effectiveness?

Analytics will tell you the quantitative story only. For a more qualitative look of how your content is performing, try to identify the success metrics for that project; ask clients for them as part of a content strategy review. For them, successful content may be more like a brand measurement, eg, ensuring they have the corrrect messaging hierarchy and that content is delivered in the right the tone of voice and in plain English. Another way to measure content success is usability testing: ‘Did you understand this more, or this?’ But it’s not an easy task – there are no Google Analytics for content quality.

Thinking of making the transition into content strategy from technical writing or other communication role, then please check out our sidebar – we’ve been gathering a list of useful content strategy resources just for you. And if you’re looking for a content strategy job in Europe, then register with us in Candidate Services.


Content Strategy Overheard