Key take-aways from content professionals

As I have met so many experts for content strategy during my visit in London I would like to summarize my key take-aways in this post.

Dynamic London City — Dynamic Content Strategy Environment

First I start with some impressiong numbers and dimensions relating to content. A few examples:

300 people responsible for content within Jamie Oliver Group
3,500 people delivering content for Governmental Digital Services UK
500 articles per day at The Telegraph
1 week for a short statement at Facebook before gets published

But for introducing content strategy within a company it always starts with the same questions which Padma Gillen — Partner at Scroll and formerly Head of Content Design at GDS told us. The question is: What is the corporate goal. Kate Kenyon — Principal Consultant for Content at cognifide also gave us the advice to be aware of the business goals and then finding out what needs to be done to support to reach the goals. How Kate Kenyon translates the business goals into the content strategy will be published within our official COS15 Blogpost soon.

Put user needs first

Identifying the real user need and understanding the desire path and beside that working as efficient as possible. Nearly everybody from the experts in London (GDS, Scroll, Digitas LBI etc.) emphasised this approach. And the ladies from the panel “One day in a life of a content professional” (Felice Hawley — web editor at Transport for London, Alex Shebar — Community Director and Marketing Manager at Yelp London, Kate Towsey — Content strategist and lead researcher at GDS and Martina Stansbie — Senior Content Strategyst at Yeldar) gave us some examples where to start:

- Which problems do I need to solve — here I could directly ask the customer service — which inquiries do they get every single day

- Or doing research in the sales team — from their experience — what kind of information is missing in the communication so far

- Doing a content audit (how much content is published, how much outdated content is online, how much duplicated content

- After that deciding where I could get the small wins and prioritising the next steps in a spreadsheet.

Very helpful is always a style guide. Which should not only be on a paper. The style guide should be put into action. It has not be perfect. It gives the rough direction — the consistent message is significant, especially if there are different departments (silos) produce content. And the responsibilities should be clear also. Who delivers an image, a video, the text and so on. It is a long and hard way to implement a content strategy and also the ladies fight each day but as soon as their efforts result in saving money they get much more support.

GDS office London

Do the hard thing to make it simple

Dipping a little bit deeper into GDS — Governmental Digital Services for GOV.UK. They started a digital content transformation project. Which content do the citizens require from the government? There is a lot starting from tax services, waste management, passport services, going abroad services and so on. The existing content for government services was previously provided by different parts of government which caused duplications, gaps, confusions, poor user experiences and the maintenance was quite expensive. So the first goal was to work together on simplifying the service website — to reduce the content on the existing service website — from 90 pages down to one page. This job is hard and is only possible by putting users first, understanding what they really need, being agile and making the services as simple and useable as possible. “Do the hard work to make it simple”, pointed also Padma Gillen in his presentation out.

Government needs service designers to design services

GDS implemented design principles to realise the project in an efficient way. By using strict service design manuals they worked out which content fits together, how well it meets user needs and rebuild the website from the ground up. They do understand service design as user experience applied to services. The services need to be understandable, easy to use so that they decrease phone calls and the amount of time for solving the problems and at the end they save a lot of money. Good services should reflect what the user wants to do and don’t require a working knowledge of the inside of government. They wanted to design around the user need and not around the way the “official process” is at the moment. More information about this project has already beend coverend in our official Content Strategy Blog Post

Joe Harrision of GDS explained that this meant they could strip away much of the complexity. For the project they worked out the following approach: answering one question per page. Always two people do the coding for the website — and exactly the same procedure is applied to producing content — always two people are working together on one article/on one web service. At the end they resulted in an elaborated user-friendly design for content — they developed tools for prewriting — using existing text modules- and a content request system. And they did it agile by using Scrum. With Scrum you divide work into sprints — which means in different tasks — working in small teams — doing sprints with permanent reviews to figure out where problems lie. In addition they organise the process with the MOSCOW method. So they priorities the content requests in a

Must have — Shoud have — could have — would like

And not to forget. They do user testing and learn from the real behavior. They do it continuously on the live web to understand the desire path and use them for their designs.

See for the result. Welcome to https://www.gov.uk/ And to get to know more about the project itself I recommend to see for their blogpost where GDS documented the process of this huge project https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2016/04/08/where-were-at-and-where-were-going/

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