Content Strategy for the Web – Interview with Kristina Halvorson, BrainTraffic.com

According to Wikipedia, content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of informational content—written or in other media. The term is particularly common in web development since the late 1990s. It is recognized as a field in user experience design but also draws interest from adjacent communities such as content management, business analysis, and technical communication.

In this eleven minute Q&A interview with Kristina Halvorson, CEO BrainTraffic.com we cover:

* What is content strategy?
* Why content matters
* Have we evolved to the point where the enterprise recognizes the content specialist as a stand alone occupation role?
* What advice do you have for freelancers?
* What advice do you have for employers?

An individual who practices content strategy as a discipline is referred to as a content strategist. The perspectives that content strategists bring to content depend strongly on their professional training and education.

For instance, some specialize in content analysis, which roughly describes work with metadata, taxonomy, search engine optimization, and the ways these concepts support content.

Others outline web editorial strategies, guidelines, and tools, which may extend to organizational change management. This form of content strategy may be concerned with developing new forms of content, such as multimedia, or various “presence management” technologies like microblogging.

There is yet another stream of content strategy advancing information architecture goals. In this case, content strategy may only involve writing site copy for new website pages and adapting the content on existing ones. All content strategists are familiar with a wide range of applications and tools, and frequently are responsible for implementing and training individuals to best use them.

Kristina Halvorson is the founder and president of Brain Traffic, a content strategy consultancy. She is the author of Content Strategy for the Web; the founder of Confab, The Content Strategy Conference; and the host of Content Talks, a weekly 5×5 podcast.

Kristina is widely recognized as the industry’s leading advocate for content strategy. Her article “The Discipline of Content Strategy” (December 2008) was one of the first internationally-published articles on the topic. In 2009, she curated the first Content Strategy Consortium (as part of the IA Summit). In 2010, she delivered the keynote address at the world’s first Content Strategy Summit in Paris, France. Today, her work continues to shape and drive the global content strategy conversation.

Kristina lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her two children, whom she often quotes on Twitter (@halvorson).

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2 thoughts on “Content Strategy for the Web – Interview with Kristina Halvorson, BrainTraffic.com

  1. Bill Cullifer

    Jeri,

    Well said.

    As a stakeholder that’s been a round for awhile, its great to witness the maturing of the Web profession. Clearly, content is king and with content specialist like you carrying the banner the web will not only improve but continue to grow and prosper.

    Bill

  2. Jeri Hastava

    Thank you so much for posting this Bill. I agree that resources are always a consideration when considering web content. But it seems to me that many web professionals are still shooting themselves in the foot by continuing to engage in outdated design processes that simply don’t include valuing content.

    This is a hot topic for me right now. When will we learn that giving a client a deadline to deliver content while we merrily design and build websites is wishful thinking. We need to help clients plan for and create content with their audience and goals in mind. And that “help” has a cost (time and money) associated with it that can only be justified if the client understands that their content is a valuable business asset.

    It’s our job to help clients understand that the people they are trying to reach are searching for solutions, knowledge and engagement – they’re searching for content – and the prettiest website with the coolest features does not help a business meet their objectives without providing the right content to the right people at the right time.

    We don’t expect our clients to design and develop a site. After all, we’re the pros and that’s what we get paid for. Right? Our contracts include costs associated with design and costs associated with development, and yet how many of us include costs for content (strategy).

    We expect our clients to know everything about creating useful usable content on their own, and what’s more, we expect them to be qualified to produce it. “Here’s a site-map. Go forth and produce good content (and get it to me by tomorrow).” I think not. Bottom line. We (web professionals) need to quit kidding ourselves and our clients, and, as Jonathan Kahn said. “fix our broken processes.” Begin with the end in mind, and that means content.

    Content is a valuable business asset. Content is hard. Content planning, creation and management has costs associated with it. Content is the heart of our web presence. Not everyone is qualified to produce content. Sustainability is a critical consideration.

    The good news, is that as move ever closer to a time when clients and designers understand that allocating budget to content is in their best interest, there’s a world of opportunity out there for qualified content professionals.

    My goodness! I’m long winded. :-)

    Regards,
    Jeri Hastava

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