Content is complicated: let’s try to simplify

Laura Hilliger
Sep 12, 2017 · 5 min read

Content can be simple… But when it needs to represent a dynamic, diverse, global organization like Greenpeace and all kinds of stuff we do, it can become tricky. From individual actions to coordinated global campaigns, the content we produce for the web and beyond is representing a community of millions.

A “Brand Identity” (should we call it “community identity”!?) promotes a concept, an idea. Greenpeace is recognizable globally as an organization that works to protect our planet.

Our identity represents our values, which drives the way we get things done. Editors and producers should be able to transmit such values into content that inspires and engages the audiences.

For Planet 4, that means it needs content processes that allow for creativity and freedom. Overall consistency is crucial to build loyalty and trust, but rigid structures won’t work. This is why, to determine which pages would be on the new, we needed more than just a sitemap, we needed a totally new content strategy.

The Planet 4 sitemap — Image by Laura

The Greenpeace mission, vision and values are all components of the content structure. Combined with the design principles, these pieces are helping the Planet 4 team create a content strategy that should work across the organization.

Three parts of the Content Strategy

We believe that a good content strategy for the new Greenpeace’s global digital presence is made up of three parts:

1) The Content Model

The content model describes what each piece of content should have. Content models can get really complicated, the Planet 4 team got inspired by this and this and this to define a model for the new

We defined the types of content Planet 4 will have and the attributes of each type. Here’s a handy overview of the model:

Together with the Communication Hubs, the Planet 4 team started making sample the content we will use to test the prototype, mostly focusing on the “Topic” and “Take Action” types.

The TOPIC content type allows P4 contributors to create informational pages about the campaigns and projects Greenpeace works on. Although the global basket (cluster of campaigns) “Forests” is much broader in scope than the project “Amazon Reef”, both require the same attributes. We want to know what the vision is to protect Forests in general, and how the project “Amazon Reefs” envisions success.

The TAKE ACTION content type allows us to lay out, step by step, things supporters can do to help create change directly from Planet 4.

2) The “Page — Type” Relationships

Which page has which content types? Which pages must never have certain content types?

The page — type relationships developed for Planet 4 are fairly intuitive, and by creating and analysing them, we identified priorities for each page layout.

The content of the Planet 4 prototype will adhere to both model and page-type relationships, and will serve as example and reference for future Planet 4 content.

P4 Page — Content type relationships — Image by Laura

The newly formed Greenpeace International Migration Team (cool name!), will be responsible for content on the prototype and will carefully document the entire migration process. The idea is to “learn by doing” and create process and documentation that National and Regional Offices will need for their transitions to Planet 4.

3) Taxonomy

Taxonomy, or categorization, of content on the site will represent the main navigation tool across Planet 4.

The Migration Team will determine how content will be pulled together and what the initial Planet 4 taxonomy will be.

One of the innovative features that Planet 4 will introduce is an organic navigational structure. Nowadays, the vast majority of users enter the website through social media and specific content shares. This means that direct access to (and navigation from) the home page will not drive the way we structure and push content.

In today’s web, people tend to “go down the rabbit hole”, floating in and out of content based on links and tags as opposed to global navigational structures.

With just 2 items in the global navigation (“Act” and “Explore”), and 8 in the footer navigation ("About", “Jobs” and “Privacy Policy”, among others), the theory behind this approach is that, through consistent tags, users will access content they’re interested in quickly, naturally and easily.

Header and footer of the “Explore” wireframe — image by Will

In the future, tags will have to be edited (rather than added) when a new project addressing a particular issue is established. For example, if a project establishes #EndCoal and creates content labeled with this tag, future related projects should either (re)use #EndCoal or edit the tag itself (with #StopTheHaze, for example) so that a user can always access all content revolving around that theme.

The “Learn. Do. Share.” approach

The Planet 4 central question has always been: How do we help people take action? With the “Take Action” content type, for instance, we advised content creators to try a “Learn. Do. Share.” approach.

  • Learn: The audience needs context about why something is important
  • Do: The audience needs guidance on what to do about it
  • Share: The audience needs to tell other people about it if we want to win

With a little explanation and some examples, our friends of the Communication Hubs started to rewrite projects' calls to actions with this structure in mind. These “Take Action” content blocks will look like storybooks on the new Greenpeace website.

“Take Action” Story books mockup — image by Will

These “stories” invite the user to become the hero in the unwritten stories of our campaigns. They provide a frame for people to take action.

Tasks from a mock “Take Action” page (mobile rendering) — image by Will

Once users choose a story book, they’re taken to a “Take Action” page that explains what can be done to support the campaign.

Questions, clarifications, ideas, concerns? Please comment below or get in touch, we’d love to hear what YOU think about the content model and strategy we’re working on.

Planet 4

Planet 4 is the codename for the complete redesign of…

Planet 4

Planet 4 is the codename for the complete redesign of This project is developed using open principles, and this Medium Publication will be the central hub for news and updates pertaining to the Planet 4 project. Learn more at

Laura Hilliger

Written by

Writer. Maker. Techie. Power tool user. Founding member @WeAreOpen, Open Ambassador for, work @greenpeace alum @mozilla

Planet 4

Planet 4 is the codename for the complete redesign of This project is developed using open principles, and this Medium Publication will be the central hub for news and updates pertaining to the Planet 4 project. Learn more at

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