Empathy and Content Strategy

Our goal as web practitioners is to create a site that’s easy for the end user to navigate and participate within. But are we ensuring the same thing for the site’s editors?

    Corey Vilhauer
  • Oct. 11 2012

Our goal with any new site is simple: create something that serves organizational goals, is accessible and usable by site audiences, and functions according to the perceptions those audiences might have.

What we often forget about is the middle ground. What do we do to ensure that our processes — and the systems we create — are usable and useful for site editors? Are we doing a good enough job bridging the complex concepts of the web and the needs of our end users?

User Experience Strategist Corey Vilhauer wrote about this on his blog — empathy, user needs, and how we make sure we're not slamming a new web team with an overly complex and out-of-reach task.

From his post, “Empathy and Content Strategy: On Teaching, Listening, and Affecting Change”:

Content strategy practitioners – and, really, the entire UX umbrella – serve a unique role in the life of a web property, in that we act as an advocate for people we may never know. These are people who will encounter a site or read an article or follow our company on Twitter, and while we surely develop personas based on real-life interviews and we plan strategy based on best practices and deep research, we’ll still never meet a vast majority of the people who we’re attempting to represent.

Our goal: provide a level of empathy for these strangers. Guide content, design and functionality for an audience of John and Jane Does. Give answers to questions that probably haven’t been asked yet.

Reams of imaginary internet paper have been written about the need for empathy for users – for a basic understanding of who we’re serving and their needs and their problems. That’s our job, and the best do it well. But there’s another element of this process that can often be overlooked, and it’s the audience we know and understand and work with on a daily basis.

The client.

Read all of Corey’s content strategy thoughts at his blog, Eating Elephant.