Content Strategy: Uniting Disciplines

Published on Nov 18, 2015

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PRESENTATION OUTLINE

UNITING DISCIPLINES

powers: activate!
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James Callan

@SCAREQUOTES

content strategist

AT SUR LA TABLE

Origin Story

ONCE UPON A TIME, I ANSWERED PHONES ...
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... AND EDITED INFORMATIONAL BROCHURES

EUREKA!

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Not content strategy

BUT IT WAS THE SEED OF MY INTEREST
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2gether 4ever

Two separate skills, one better outcome
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"Content strategy
is to copywriting as
information architecture
is to design."
— Rachel Lovinger

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Untitled Slide

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TEAM UX!

Not better. More interesting. (to me.)
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MARKETING

(shudder)
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NO escape

MARKETING WILL FIND YOU
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Combo #1

Editorial Style Guide + User Experience
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WHO AMONG YOU HAS WORKED ON A COPY STYLE GUIDE?

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EDITORIAL POWER

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BUT AREN'T YOU FORGETTING SOMEONE?

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Your users

GOOD LUCK TELLING THEM WHAT WORDS TO USE
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(Or how to spell things)

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Better experience

through (copy) style
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THIS IS A DUTCH OVEN.

PSYCH!

LE CREUSET CALLS IT A FRENCH OVEN.

what's the difference?

"FRENCH OVEN" IS LE CREUSET FOR "DUTCH OVEN"

We respect their product name:

Le Creuset Signature
Round French Oven

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But customers...

THEY SEARCH FOR "DUTCH OVEN" 4X MORE THAN "FRENCH OVEN"
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(EVEN WHEN THEY SPECIFY "LE CREUSET DUTCH OVEN")

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Solution

SET UP SEARCH THESAURUS SO THAT "DUTCH OVEN" PULLS UP "FRENCH OVEN"

You want to serve salt at your table.

Not in a shaker.

What do you look for?

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  • salt pig
  • salt box
  • salt cellar
  • salt keeper
  • salt container
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MOST POPULAR?

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SALT CELLAR

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ZERO

HOW MANY "SALT CELLARS" DO WE SELL?
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BUT ... WHAT IS A SALT CELLAR?

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Manufacturers don't agree.

Dictionaries don't agree.

It's salty anarchy.

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Solution

IN OUR THESAURUS, THEY ARE ALL EQUAL
Same with "skillet" and "frying pan."

And "double boiler" and "bain-marie."
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Better experience

through Taxonomy
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WHAT DO YOU CALL THIS TOOL?

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Spatula?

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Turner?

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MAYBE EVEN A PANCAKE FLIPPER?

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WE CALL IT A TURNER. (INDUSTRY TERM.)

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BUT CUSTOMERS USE ALL THREE WORDS

  • Spatula
  • Turner
  • Flipper
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spatula

THIS IS WHAT WE CALL A

AND SO DO CUSTOMERS!

which do they want?

WHEN SOMEONE WANTS A SPATULA,

FIVE MINUTES OF FRUSTRATION!

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So we combined categories. Spatulas and turners will live together.
(We also updated the internal search thesaurus.)

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Tips

  • Look for contested words or insider knowledge
  • Define your in-house terms
  • Don't expect customers to know them
  • Fulfill the spirit of their inquiry, not just the letter
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Learn your customer's language

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Combo #3

UX + EDITING
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WAIT!

DIDN'T we discuss this already?

Reverse!

HOW UX CAN MAKE YOU EDIT BETTER

OXFORD COMMA!

Most of us who write or edit for a living have an opinion about serial commas — it's a sign that you care, man!

But I have yet to see any proof that customers or other users notice which way you go, unless you blindly follow a style guide and end up with something like the Kennedy/Stalin stripper example.

Why edit?

to avoid confusing readers
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That's good UX

(and good editors know this)
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best practices

no match for a good blaster at your side
But a lot of editing practices get handed down like old recipes, or the way "best practices" are passed around. We all know how useful "best practices" are.

Better than nothing, but no match for a good blaster at your side. Or actual user data and experience.

So ... why edit things
that aren't confusing?

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widows & Orphans

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Wait. wrong kind.

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Eliminating widows & orphans wasted copyeditors' time.

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"No reader had any problem
with 'bad breaks.'
We had been laboring on
an imaginary improvement."
— John McIntyre

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"New to the Stylebook:
over, as well as more than,
is acceptable to indicate
greater numerical value."

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there were over 111

horrified tweets
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it's a fake rule

But ...
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experts say it's OK

But ...
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readers aren't confused

But ...

Why spend time making edits that don't matter to users?

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Spend time on details that matter.

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Spend time figuring out which details those are.

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not a grammar bible

It's called a style guide,
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Who are you editing for?

You, or your users?
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Ideally, both

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finish line!

final thought
Styles change. That's what makes them style.

Guides help make choices, they don't choose for you.
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magpie discipline

content strategy is a
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get the best content

so many disciplines help users
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QUESTIONS?

James Callan

Haiku Deck Pro User