Content Strategy, UX Strategy, doesn’t it all really boil down to Good Design?

One of our reading assignments for class this week was Paul Bryan’s 7 Ingredients of a Successful UX Strategy (a great read, btw). Before I actually saw this was on the syllabus, I saw it referenced in blog post by Kristina Halvorson. In short, here’s what happened: Halvorson, a content strategy expert (she wrote the book on it, in fact) skimmed the article, saw no mention of content strategy, left a terse comment about her “disappointment” with this, and moved on. The author of the article came back with a very diplomatic response, and another commenter shared a criticism of Halvorson’s comment. Halvorson sees the comments, rereads the article, sees the error of her ways and a post on her own blog about the situation, and leaves another, apologetic, comment on the original article, and all is right with the world.

While I haven’t actually read Halvorson’s book yet (it’s sitting patiently on my desk waiting for me though, I swear) we talk a lot about the principles of content strategy in my department at work. Those conversations are lead by a colleague who actually has read her book, for the record. Understanding that there is enough about this to fill an actual book (more than one, I’m sure), my understanding of content strategy is that, simplistically, it boils down to this: you don’t just create content for the sake of creating content. You need to determine who that content is for, and what it’s supposed to accomplish, and create it accordingly. Key to this is not creating content in a vacuum.

In reading Bryan’s article, though he does go into these seven specific elements, it seems like UX boils down to the same basic principles (again, I’m no expert, and no offense is intended) : what is being designed, who is it being designed for, and what do you want them to do with it. It seems to me that those are the same principles that should apply whether you’re writing a story, building a website, or designing a piece of furniture. Which takes me back to our first class session where we talked about what design was — and how it extended beyond just the creative, artsy stuff.

When I think about how much I love the things is my life that are designed beautifully — my various Apple products, my favorite wine bar — compared to my general feeling of ambivalence towards so much of the other things I use and experience throughout the day/week/month/year, it makes me feel really happy about the fact that so many different kinds of people are talking about what seems to be the same thing. Why? Because it gives me hope for the number and variety of beautifully designed things and experience s there will be to love in the future.



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