Today’s society has access to information from anywhere and through any device. This means more content, and organizations are facing the need to make content clearer.
I was assigned to write a HCI guideline for the help function of Visma´s applications. I realized that in order to create a user-friendly help function, I had to work with content. Therefore I decided to discover and attend a workshop ‘Using Content Strategy to change your organization.’
What is Content Strategy?
Is a young and growing discipline that has evolved since the beginning of the web development. Content strategists are hired to plan, develop, and implement content fitted for the web and other media. This seems like a simple step-by-step process, and this is how the work starts:
- What content do we have?
- Who is responsible for it?
- Is it accurate?
- Is it good?
- How are the pieces connected?
It does not take long before realizing that there are lots of holes in this step-by-step process –the content is there, but who is responsible? How are the pieces connected?
The content strategist ends up as Kate Kenyon says ‘understanding, persuading and changing organizations.’ This is because content strategist finds the problem in the process and convinces organizations of the need for change. Examples of problems are:
- Lack of cross channel communication.
- Inconsistent customer experience.
- People do not value the content.
What did I learn?
I learnt that content strategy is not a step-by-step process. Most of the times the content strategist ends up being a consultant or facilitator, who highlights the problems in the processes or organization structures. This means trying to convince many people.
The workshop gave me some tools that will help achieve the need for change:
Advocate: Recommend what is needed. What are our challenges? What would a successful outcome look like?
Adapt: Make it suitable for its new purpose (mobile first, cross channel, read anywhere.) Content analysis and Content modelling,
Align: Get the stakeholders on board. Framing the organization problem –the problem is not content audit but people, processes, tools–. Propose solution with a map visualizing who will be affected by the proposed changes.
All this sounded very familiar to me. Coming back to the help guideline project, after an analysis of different Visma help, I understood that every application was implementing the help function different. It is inconsistent because there has been a lack of cross-communication. In order to proceed to write the guidelines, my focus shifted into aligning different departments to collaborate. Now I’m persuading my colleagues at different projects/departments of the need to have a help function that will have common elements across applications, but context dependant on the user needs. It is never too late for a new beginning and since the cloud has come over our heads, we are working towards aligning the common elements and functionalities between the different applications.