Why We’re Moving From Content Strategy to Content Design

Elisabeth Carr
Oct 6 · 3 min read
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Illustration by Kevin Smith

After over a decade of pushing to make our product experiences simple, straightforward and human, our Facebook Product Content Strategy team has realized that it’s time to apply those important principles to our own title. We know that our work, along with the work of other companies, has helped shape a particular branch of the discipline, and we believe that it’s distinct enough to warrant a distinct name. So today, we’re changing the name of our Content Strategy team to the Content Design team. We spent a long time researching and considering this decision, and we see it benefitting our team and hopefully, practitioners throughout the field.

Questioning the title

While the term content strategy has been around since the late 1990s, it became a more formalized discipline in the early-to-mid 2000s. We formed the practice within our design group in 2009 with one content strategist, Sarah Cancilla. We are now a team of nearly 500.

Back then, content strategist differentiated what we did within design — more UX-focused work — from writing roles in other groups at Facebook. The title helped explain that our team focused on serving the UX needs of people using our products and supporting business goals. As we matured, we saw we could better communicate our purpose if we modified content strategist to product content strategist, clarifying our product-specific function. We hold a lot of gratitude for the content strategist title and where it’s gotten us; it helped us clarify internal roles, reach people who do the work we do and build our global team.

We use our unique skills to solve specific problems. But over time, we’ve used the breadth of the content strategist title to allow us to color outside the lines, in a good way. It’s allowed people to flex into different types of work, and it’s welcomed those from diverse backgrounds such as editorial, journalism, marketing, library science and traditional design to bring their expertise into the field.

Today, content strategy is used to describe many flavors of content work: social media marketing, branded content creation, information architecture and the more UX-specific in-product design work that we do at Facebook. With the market use of the title continuing to broaden, we did what any good content strategist would do: we conducted an audit. Over six months, we scoured job postings and interviewed people in various content and design roles both inside and outside of our company. We looked for trends, questioned assumptions and ran namestorms before deciding what, if anything, to do.

What we found

After analyzing the titles and role expectations at 27 tech companies, we found that content design is rapidly becoming the standard for how people talk about the type of product content work we do at Facebook.

This new focus on the word “design” makes a lot of sense to us. After all, what we do is and always has been design work — from conceiving flows to creating information architectures to pairing the right design components with the right language. We want to be more open and direct about this to help others better understand both our function and value.

Our data confirmed that the broader job market is moving in this direction too. When we audited the wider job market, we clearly saw that content strategy most commonly refers to marketing (including content marketing and editorial work).

What now?

We proceed as content designers: people who design in words, concepts, systems and terminology, voice and tone, and who know how much these things matter in solving problems for the people who use our products around the world.

At Facebook, we strive to make our in-product writing simple, straightforward and human, and we believe this change brings our title more in line with these core principles. We also believe it will elevate understanding of our work and role, clarifying our purpose and value to partners, candidates, the wider industry, and perhaps most importantly, ourselves.

Facebook Design

Designing for the global diversity of human needs.

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