In my Editing for the Web class at Full Sail University, I had the opportunity to complete the Lynda Course, Foundations of UX: Content Strategy, presented by Morten Rand-Hendrikson. (UX is an abbreviation of “user experience.”) As I move forward in developing content I need to learn best practices in order to meet and exceed audience and client expectations.
Getting to know and understand the needs and expectations of the audience is of utmost importance. I recently visited a community college’s web site. My son is a high school senior and has been focused on attending college for some time, but recently has been exploring his options. My husband and I are encouraging him to look at community colleges as a way of exploring his interests before choosing a four-year university. When we started to explore the website however, we were disappointed with the content. Both my husband and I had attended this college and wanted to share our experience through the content. Our expectations were high, and the lack of appropriate content was disappointing. When developing content for a website or other media, we as contributors and designers do not want our audience to be disappointed. The course discussed creating personas and empathy maps to help understand the audience’s needs and expectations.
Building a sense of ownership within and without the company can build tremendous loyalty in a brand. Morten Rand-Hendrikson referred to Apple as an example of this concept. The people who own and use Apple products are loyal and true advocates. There is a sense of belonging that becomes a part of their identity. By encouraging content creation from consumers, as well as staff, this sense of ownership is further developed and nurtured even when the content is not used for the public. People who are invested in the organization are some of the best advocates. Being aware of what these advocates see, hear, say, do, think and feel, as well as understanding their pains and gains and putting all of this into an empathy map helps to focus attention on the audience. Building and nurturing these relationships is vital to the success of the organization.
Pulling it all together to create relevant and engaging content is not possible without a solid strategy. The course presented tools and techniques to not only develop content, but ways to create flow and help people understand and navigate the website. Organizations set themselves up for success when they plan ahead, and using planning to create or update a website is just as essential for the project’s success. The tools, techniques, and strategies presented are not a set formula, but instead a fully stocked tool chest and supplies to build a successful site.
The aspect of content strategy that I struggle with is developing the infrastructure and architecture of the website. Fortunately, the course included files with templates and other tools to help build that framework. This structure will not only keep website creation from turning into endless rabbit trails, but will help focus the content to remain relevant and engaging. I plan on using the tools presented to help me stay on track throughout the web development process.
The project our class will be working on throughout this month is developing a website for the fictitious company Reel Deal Tacos. The client brief is very helpful and much of the homework has been done to begin to understand the company and its customers through the information provided. The company look and feel is “organic, friendly, and ocean inspired.” They have a good understanding of how their customers will be accessing their site and a good starting point for the type of content they would like to include. Because this company is mobile one of their main areas of content will be where they will be doing business. They would like to include professionally photographed images of their food offerings as well. It is important to the owners of the business to include reviews from their customers as well as featured news stories on their website. These elements will also help me to better understand their audience. In addition, the owners provided a bio so that I can begin to learn more about them and what motivated them to start their business. Using the tools and techniques presented in Foundations of UX: Content Strategy, I should be able to use the information provided to develop content specifically for this business, their customers, and their community.