I recently read Halvorsen & Rach ‘s Content Strategy for the Web – mainly because it is the chosen book for this month’s UX BookClub – and I have some thoughts to share. My list of books to read for PD keeps getting longer and this one has sat on the list for quite a while now; so long in fact that it has moved to a second edition!
I enjoyed the book and have walked away with some good stuff to put in practise the next time I get a chance to really focus on the content in a re/design. Halvorsen & Rach start out with a cracking statement that sets the tone of the book – “Treat your content with strategic consideration.” (2012 p.xviii) This resonates not just with in-house people but also those of us who work in agencies – like the excellent Boomworks (shameless plug). Content needs to “…help your audience do something – better, smarter, and with greater ease.” (2012 p.19) In that, it is very much the same as user experience design and it is for that reason that I don’t believe that you can separate the two elements of the same story; nor should you want to.
Many of you will have been in that situation where you have received all of the business requirements documents and talked through some of the user research, but you still don’t have the content and could we please have all the wireframes for all of the things!
But what about the content we are designing for? Will it have an impact on the design? Yes! And this is where the two (UX and content strategy) are even more inextricably linked; we need to user test with the real data or it is not as effective for everyone involved. Cognitive load – the brain power required to process and understand information – increases exponentially for the user if the content isn’t real.
So finally to sign off with, a little further wisdom from Halvorsen & Rach that I thought put things together nicely.
“If there is anything that we have learned so far, it’s that content must be considered throughout and beyond any design and development project, no matter what the plan or platform is. So, not ‘content first.’ Content always.” (2012 p.175)
Halvorsen K. & Rach M. 2012, Content Strategy for the Web, 2nd ed., New Riders, Berkeley, CA