The Next Step: Into the Void of Unfathomable Content
Because of the immense effort and robust level of buy-in required, content tends to become a void as a project marches on. A lot of time is put into the strategy and laying the foundation for the content required for the website, but the production often comes up short. Execution of content development requires two things - organization and cooperation.I highly recommend every organization invest in management and collaboration tools for content. Platforms like Trello can be very useful for coordinating ideas. Using something as simple as a Google Doc can be great for sharing ideas and moving content around for revisions. However, the entire team needs to be on board and using the products.
Make a system, a flexible one, for how your team will tackle the content. Simply throwing things at the wall and hoping they stick won’t work because that should have already been defined during the strategy phase. You’ll want to create a pathway that allows multiple viewpoints, but ultimately unites the content into a message that is cohesive and creates an action based deliverable for design and development. What that means: an integrated content document that demonstrates a conscious effort to understand how a user might navigate through copy, images, videos and other content types in order to provide designers with the adequate information to design something that caters to the quality of that content.
At Eightfold, we’ve adopted a deliverable that marketing and content teams can turn into something actionable for those next two phases. A content priority guide that elaborates on the type of content, the value they offer users, as well as the opportunity presented for users to make decisions. We’ve had great success with this deliverable, some clients have even returned them in a more robust format; integrating items of inspiration or defining how the content should evoke some response or emotion is achieved here. All of these actionable ideas can be delivered without have any design in place. In some instances, they might resemble rudimentary wireframes, but the goal is to give everyone an anchor for how things will progress once design begins.
Our organization is constantly working on this process, so it is not as if we have achieved web technology perfection. The key here is maintaining some level of fluidity. I prefer to think of web sites, and the technology contained within, as being somewhat “alive”, so the concepts and content that are discussed in outside will need to be adjusted and formed through the other phases. As a result, content is something that is in development at each phase and shouldn’t fall off just because the design team is working or the product is in development.
On The Right Side of the Universe - Content Execution
The last aspect of this essay is rooted in the execution of the content - both design and development. Since there should be some element of fluidity in the content development phase, it would be sensible that the flex would carry through design and development. While we want finalized decisions on content and design, a product should always be given room to adjust. The finality and concrete deadlines that fit modern organizations are, in no uncertain terms, a good methodology for getting projects done, but in the online world, finality and done are basically just that.
As the content is being executed in design, it will be important to refer back to these original deliverable and measure the design to the goals we set in content strategy and development. And once the teams have access to a staging site, they’ll want to measure those goals again, assessing if the design was brought into play appropriately and if the content is still sensible within the new active environment. Finally, once the new product - no matter the scope or size - is launched for user engagement, what does our data tell us? Should we be making further adjustments and trying different ways to engage with users based on their activity?
Right execution is a blend of these various phases and worlds. From conception through user testing and a complete launch, we’ll be asking ourselves the question of how our content is being served - for both the organization and the user. The answer is never final and the solution is found in the diversity of the mediums in which users are coming in through.
As technology evolves and the ways in which our human social interactions continue to progress in this digital medium, the belief that content must be fluid and shape shifting will continue to develop. Content can be conversational, search oriented, task building, educational or informational, entertaining, and beyond; it provides the foundation for the rest of the functionality and purpose. Don’t let your products and technology serve as a beautiful shell, where the shallow waters end up turning users away. Invite them in to stay awhile and you might turn them into something more than a passerby.