Putting Content First

Content Strategy & Creation
Valtech DK

outubro 10, 2018

Content done well can create value; content done poorly can destroy you. In a series of four blogposts, we hope to convince you to start putting content first, distribute it correctly, and share our aspirations for a future of relevant content only.

How to put content first

You’ve heard it a million times - content is king. Yeah, but why?

Basically, it’s because we now know that content can make or break you. Content is the part of you and your business that reaches actual and potential customers and users. It’s how you engage. When meeting people, you’re fully aware of what to say and how to act in order to make a good impression – the same should go for your online presence which is your content.

So if content done well sounds like music in your ears, then read on. Three of our passionate content consultants sat down over coffee to discuss their best bets on how to have a content-first mindset right from the start in your next digital project. It all came down to three rather simple steps.

Tip number 1: Establish what goes at the core

Our digital content consultant Caroline jumps straight into it: “Think in core content. The Core Content Model is by no means new to the digital world, but it still surprises me how many people have otherwise done their homework on digital, but have never heard of it.” The model Caroline refers to is a brainchild of Are Halland from the Norwegian agency Netlife Research. The method starts from the assumption that content only deserves a place at the heart of your website if it meets both user needs and business objectives.

Christian joins in: “And all too often, clients tend to focus too much on their business objectives. They want to be best in class, and they have a lot of ideas on how they are going to become that. The only problem is, they tend to forget about the single most important question they have to answer: What content are their users looking for on their site?”

"Exactly!" Caroline bursts out: “The reason why The Core Model makes so much sense to me is its simplicity. Thinking about content as a strategic asset can feel overwhelming because it is everything and nothing at the same time: it is your tone of voice, it is designing assets, it is a messaging framework, it is Information Architecture, it is copywriting. Where does one start? Precisely because content is so all-encompassing, you need to divide it up into smaller chunks and the Core Model will help you get started at the right place: with the user.”

Tip number 2: Replace wireframes with content guides

Once you get this team going there's no stopping them, so the conversation continues in excitement. "The digital world has drastically moved towards a user-first approach and content reaps the benefits of this," says Kathrine. This leads her to the step of wireframing, something that used to be a way for designers to quickly sketch their ideas in order to prettify it later. "But this is a missed opportunity. If you treat wireframes as low-fidelity designs and not as content-driven guides to what a page should contain, you miss out on some essential things. I suggest to wait with wireframing. First, do a profound analysis of the different content types you know you need on the site. Second, decide on the hierarchy between these content types. And only then start wireframing. Or create a content guide, if you will,” says Kathrine. “This step is most effective when UX designers and content consultants join forces.” 

Tip number 3: Don't be shy to prototype important content

Christian: “Work with protocontent for design elements that are vital to the creative concept. I can’t stress the importance of moving away from automatically populated headlines and CTAs enough. Think about it: which of the internal stakeholders or users who test your prototype will be excited about a headline that says ‘Lorem Ipsum’ and then tells the user to ‘dolor sit amet, no vel facer antiopam elaboraret' just before they hit the primary Call to Action? Also, designers will be thankful. Protocopy makes it much easier for them to understand the relative importance and actual purpose of the content. Doing a copy mockup of what the crucial content elements will read like is earned back with immediate effect, I promise."

Caroline agrees: “As long as you're conscious about what you prototype and don't lose yourself in adding unnecessary detail, this will really help getting buy-in for the concept. Remember that time when your director clicked around in a prototype and asked ‘so this button is here to do what exactly?’ Those days are over. With protocontent in your prototype, your value proposition and the way the design conveys it will be close to crystal clear.”

The lesson of all this? Just like with anything that looks big and overwhelming, it starts with taking small steps. In the end, content strategy is nothing more than ensuring you craft the right message at the right time for the right people. The earlier your attention touches upon the topic of content, the easier it gets later on. That's a promise!

Once you get there – if you’re not one of the few who already is - the next important step is to ensure the right distribution of your content. Lucky for you we have an expert on that very topic who has provided his insights in the next blogpost in this series: Relevant Distribution

Meanwhile, if you you want to talk more about content production or strategy, never hesitate to reach out.