Many lists of required reading for content strategists have been posted over the years (thank you). Those of us who’ve been practising content strategy for a long time have voraciously consumed these books and quickly incorporated what we’ve learnt into our processes.
But there’s so much more to read to keep up with best practice in our discipline or just to get timely tips for making our jobs easier and our clients’ outcomes better.
I’m thinking about those fleeting tweets from clever people in our community with, say, a link to a graphic that helps people understand the importance of accessibility (so beautifully simple) or maybe that short article clearly showing the difference between tone and voice (pure gold). I think of these as the ‘ephemera’ of content strategy. Unless you have time to read them straight away or read a little bit then store them in Instapaper (never to be looked at again in my case) they disappear. Lost forever.
I’ve started posting these on Slack for my lovely staff when they are too busy to be following this great stuff themselves. They just catch up when they have time, and often thank me profusely as if I had written it myself (Aw it was nuthin’). So I thought doing the same on our blog might be helpful to our fellow content strategists who are also trying to keep up, or you newbies out there who have a lot to catch up on. I’ll post a short list of what’s caught our eye on twitter recently. Just the good stuff with a short summary.
So. Here we go.
Tone and voice vs tone of voice.
Tone and voice are actually two separate things. Voice persists, whereas tone can change with context. This article by Rachel McConnell (author of “Why you need a Content Team”) explains it well.
Content testing for comprehension
While we ensure usability testing is part of all Weave’s content projects, there isn’t always time to test comprehension of the content before a website launch. However, as part of a regular review, especially to improve the speed and efficiency of completing top tasks, it’s invaluable. This is a great guide to several methods of testing (and not just for comprehension). Remember. Research beats opinion every time.
Designing for disability means better design for everyone. Why? Because we’re all potentially disabled. That could be situationally (I can’t read a book while driving my car), temporarily (I’ve broken my finger so I can’t type) or permanently. Simply being left handed means approximately 10% of people have difficulty using some ATMs and other interfaces. We need to be pressing this message home to our clients, colleagues and peers. This article gives you a great start.
Content strategy vs content marketing
If you work for a large organisation which focuses most of its time and money on creating new content for potential customers then you’ll love this article. Hilary Marsh (a content strategy goddess) has great arguments for holding your current customer in as high regard as the customer you don’t have yet.
Qualitative user research
Qualitative user research is my favourite type of research. From quite a small number of observed user experiences and one-on-one interviews we can glean so much. Leisa Reichelt of Atlassian talks about the dangers of trying to quantify research that should really be mined for its qualitative findings. She advocates human eyes over technology every time.
This is a longish video but well worth it. There’s also a good summary of the presentation by Emily Tate of Mind the Product. https://www.mindtheproduct.com/2018/08/quantifying-qualitative-research-by-leisa-reichelt/