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Content Strategy: What is it and why should I care about it?

By: Mary Barbour

Lots of books have been written on Content Strategy and its growing role in helping to achieve business goals.  Perhaps you’ve read a few of them, or all of them, or even wrote one of them yourself!  Or maybe you’ve heard the phrase tossed around quite a bit but aren’t exactly sure what it means or why it’s so important.  Here’s our take on it.

In short, Content Strategy is the planning, development and management of informational content.  You have a business.  Your business has to relay information to potential consumers.  You make decisions about how that information is strategically communicated.  Those decisions are called Content Strategy.  You get the gist.

It sounds simple, right?  But so often, businesses suffer because they are not communicating with consumers in the most effective way (i.e. not being strategic enough about managing the content on their site). Have you ever been looking at a website for a museum or restaurant and gotten frustrated by the way information is displayed?  Maybe you had to click three different links to find directions or current offers?  Why are certain sites so seamless and easy to use, while others seem to bog you down with unnecessary information and extraneous pages?

Radio Shack is one example of a site that could gain from more effective Content Strategy.  The homepage is cluttered with information and the organization of the page is such that the viewer’s focus is pulled in all different direction at once:

Compare this to Apple’s homepage:

See how they’ve tucked all the information underneath clean tabs?  They bring a sharp, attractive image to the forefront and minimize the text and graphics below it so that the overall effect is clean, minimalist, and aesthetically pleasing.

Much like you don’t want to wander through a Super K-Mart for hours looking for the right aisle to buy deodorant, no one has time to sift through nonsense in virtual space to find useful information.

Business owners often overlook the importance of content strategy.  They outsource a web developer to cram information into a site and make it look sort of pretty, then shift their attention to marketing and sales – tactics that will surely drive the numbers up, forgetting that their website is often the most powerful tool!  The goal of content strategy is to make sure the impact of content on a website is being maximized to achieve business goals.

Kristina Halvorson, content strategy guru, can convince anyone that the key to running a successful business is managing web content.   We at Command C tend to agree with her, and, as we’ll discuss next week, feel that the elements of Content, Development, and Design are inextricable.  But for now, we’ll leave you with Halverson’s description (from her website www.braintraffic.com) of the serenity that content strategy can offer within a chaotic world of information:

“Imagine a world where content is beautiful.  It’s clear, consistent, useful, and usable.  You know where it lives and exactly what it says.  Your users are delighted.  Your business reaps the benefits.  Your process is efficient.  And you’re happy.”

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