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?

10/11/2012

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Categorized

  • Content and IA
  • Strategy

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.

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The Web Project Guide on Agile Digital Transformation Off-site link

The Web Project Guide’s Corey Vilhauer and Deane Barker joined Tim Butara and the Agile Digital Transformation podcast to talk about the process of writing the book, the web project process itself, and the role of agility when moving toward a successful launch.

September 29, 2022 | The Web Project Guide

Episode 11: Model Your Content (w/ Jeff Eaton) Off-site link

Corey and Deane chat about the first time they realized they really liked content modeling, and how modeling is the hidden language of content.  Then, Jeff Eaton, partner at Autogram, joins to define content modeling, the concept of content reuse (and its many issues), and the balance between philosophical modeling and actually doing the work in spreadsheets.

September 15, 2022 | The Web Project Guide Podcast

Episode 10: Organize Your Content (w/ Lisa Maria Marquis) Off-site link

Corey and Deane chat about Information Architecture for the World Wide Web — ”The Polar Bear Book” — and then our experiences with information organization in real life. Then, Lisa Maria Marquis, author of Everyday Information Architecture and You Should Write a Book, joins to discuss how to frame information architecture for those who aren’t web people, the hidden biases in organizing content, and a bit about why you should write your own book. (We also take a critical look at Lisa Maria’s bookshelf.)

August 16, 2022 | The Web Project Guide Podcast

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