Yogamatters: an ecommerce content strategy

Around the end of 2011 I completed a content strategy project for Yogamatters (via Exploded View). The project was not part of a website redesign (unusual for me) but focused on rethinking and redefining how Yogamatters were using their current media assets and content to represent their brand.

The project resulted in an extensive Tone of Voice and Style Guide document, including guidance on the use of imagery; a website audit and task list for improving current online content and user experience; and a document outlining overarching strategic ideas not only for digital but for print material too. As part of the project a content calendar was developed and the Yogamatters Facebook page was born.

I still meet with Yogamatters every now and again, when they call, to celebrate the things that have gone well, show them where they’re dropping the ball, and brainstorm how things can be improved still more.

What Yogamatters have to say…

“We worked with Kate to devise a content strategy that would inform, hone and improve our communications initiatives to better serve our business goals. For the duration of the four-month project, Kate was a highly organised, efficient and infectiously enthusiastic person to work with.

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Dear Spotify…

Sent to Spotify, 07h52, 1st November 2011:

Dear Spotify,

I‘ve been a Spotify user for around a year – it’s an excellent service. I do however think that you’re missing out on an opportunity to build and maintain a financial relationship with users like me, and thought to take 5 minutes to point it out.

I realise you must have some seriously intelligent brains looking after your business model, but I’m hoping you feel that user feedback is as valuable as I do.

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Digital legacies: we’ll all live on

graveyard

A little while ago I blogged ‘Long Live Digital‘, a spontaneous (even if slightly dark) publishing about what I would, as a tech-savvy and digitally engaged person, leave behind if my life were to end.

It happened this past week that I stumbled upon two tweets in my feed, which were about this exact topic. Bizarre. I had no particular intention on continuing the digital-legacy-themed commenting but these posts are too interesting not to share.

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Long live digital

Programming code

One day, when the inevitable happens and I die, I’m not going to have bookshelves, the books that would have gone in them, vinyls, CD’s, filing cabinets, files, photo albums, recipe snippets, address books, diaries – or any of the material ‘stuff’ we, as human beings, have tended to want/need, use, and therefore collect over a lifetime.

If things continue as they are, when I depart this (now fantastically digital) earthly abode, I’ll leave behind a Mac Book Pro, an iPhone, an iPad and a Kindle – all wonderful tools to enjoy my extensive collection of .mp3′, .m4a’, .jpg’, .png’, .azw’, .opf’, .epub,’.txt’, .rtf’, .doc’, .docx’, .pdf’, .xls’, .htm’, .css’, and even a few .com’s (like this one).

My Last Will and Testament will include details of the complex algorithms of my personal password system, and therefore unlock the key to my online world of belongings, banking, business, and socialising to those who I cherish the most.

And so, as I ascend with wings and halo into the clouds, I’ll leave loved ones behind to treasure (and archive) my life – lived in the Cloud.

Long live digital.

j j j

Information overload – an incoming content strategy

Twitter, Instapaper, Delicious, emails, podcasts, two magazine subscriptions, several superb looking books waiting to be read, more on their way from Amazon, information gathered during various conferences, meet-ups, museum visits, movies, adverts, bits and pieces I see as I move through the world, and notes or images I store on my ever-loved iPhone.

We’re information swamped.

The steady stream of this-and-that reminds me very much of Chinese dim sum servings, a pick-and-choose eating extravaganza: I always leave feeling kind-of-satisfied but over-grazed, bloated and brain-dead. From dim sum to ‘dumb sum’ in under an hour.

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Small organisation wants big content

Small dog with a big bone

We’ve* recently had several very small organisations request proposals for content-heavy and multi-media rich online solutions. When I say small, we’re talking 2 to 3 people teams who are already stretched in getting their core admin and management tasks done. There seems to be the assumption that an amazing website that features video, audio, podcasts, blogs, news, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social networking buttons, (yes, it’s a long list, and they’re asking for all of it) will somehow make things easier. Who’s going to produce, moderate, manage and maintain all that content?

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Conceptual art and content strategy – a compilation of a few thoughts

When I started inspire/mation (the site that housed my blogs previous to this one) I thought I’d aim to join the ‘blogerati’ in writing really clever, informative, edited, and perfectly punctuated articles about information management and content strategy. It seems however that this approach just doesn’t work for me: My last post was published several months ago (September, it seems) and despite having some awesome ideas about what I might write (and even creating drafts with snappy titles), I’ve not written one of them.

But, I was thinking about the conceptual art development process and how it relates to content strategy today and I needed somewhere to get it down. Enter my dormant blog and the gift of blog freedom: Zero to Published in 30 minutes.

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Content strategy on a shoe string – a few ideas

One of the problems I am seeing, specifically regarding smaller clients, is the process of making sure that a site has good site copy when there is little, or no, budget for content strategy or copy production. Of course the ‘easiest’ route is to ask the client to produce their own copy, but the result is often wordy, lengthy and (understandably) has no consideration for site architecture. What is a beautiful looking website if its not populated with clear and engaging content?

This past week I attended a workshop at DConstruct in Brighton, UK. The workshop was called Defining a Flexible Process and in it, Simon Collison guided us through a concept-to-launch project process peppered with brainstorming, paper, post-its and play.

The theory is this: supported by carefully chosen systems, templates and forms, comes the opportunity to create as you go, leave space for inspiration and experimentation, pull out paper and paint, camera and pencil – all the stuff that keeps the creative bum humming and work innovative and inspired. A little ‘freestylin’.

Although not specifically outlined during the workshop, Simon’s stable/flexible approach did inspire me to see the client/content dilemma as an opportunity for creative solution’ing.

Perhaps this is a way  to make the client/content relationship more fun, produce a good content strategy and copy, and still respect the project budget:

Step 1: even if the client is a writer or marketing guru, don’t ask them to produce copy for the site. Clients aren’t familiar with the online content process and its a test in diplomacy to convince them that areas need to be cut or re-edited once they’ve written loads of copy detailing everything they want the site to say.

Step 2: ask the client to fill out a Content Strategy Form. What do they want to tell people? What feeling do they want people to take from their copy?

Step 3: ask the Client to gather all the copy used so far on websites and in print to see what they are presently doing – does it match their answers? If not, how can the copy style be adjusted or changed and yet still hold true to their legacy style?

Step 4, a User Journey workshop: what do the Users want to find on the specific site pages. What does the client want their Users to know? How are Users going to progress through the site?

Step 5, Page Descriptions: define content requirements (in point form) around the page requirements ascertained in User Journeys.

Step 6: the User Journeys and Page Descriptions inform the wireframes – how much space does there need to be for the copy? Where does there need to be a compromise between copy and usability? What copy can be turned into a button or an action point or can be presented visually?

Step 7: time to turn what’s left into inspired copy. Hopefully the Client has learned (along with you) what their messages and site should be about and, with the guidance of Page Descriptions noting the space more-or-less available, the essence of what the content might say, and keywords and key terms to be included (perhaps even allocated with best SEO in mind) copy writing can ensue. It’s really just a case of putting it all together, injecting personality, and making sure to hold true to the structure set down.

It’s one for some testing and I’ll definitely post as I see what works and what doesn’t – I’ve no doubt that the process will need to be tweaked on a case-by-case basis.

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