Within one week, two recruiters reached out to me to ask if UX Content Strategist is a real job title. After a brief pause, I said “of course.” The reason for my hesitation was three-fold:
- One – I felt relief that the content strategy profession is finally getting recognized as part of the digital design team
- Two – I realized that people still do not understand what a content strategist does (or should do)
- Three – UX is a focus for everyone on a digital design team so you don’t really need UX in a Content Strategist’s title, it’s implied
As the digital design process continues to evolve, it has become clear that the digital design team is one entity who work together to design an exceptional experience for the reader (or user). Because the architect of the site is known as the User Experience Architect, there is a preconceived notion that he/she is the only one thinking about UX. Not true.
The Entire Digital Team Focuses on UX
Bottom line, everyone involved in designing a digital experience focuses on UX. The technical developer needs to design code that is clean and functional. The visual designer needs to use imagery and colors that is pleasing to the reader and keeps the brand voice alive. The UX Architect (UXA) needs to layout the content so it is intuitive and easy to use on every device. The content strategist needs to ensure the right information is available to the right audience. That means he/she needs to understand how content can be displayed in a digital experience.
Here are a few examples that demonstrate how content strategists focus on UX:
Plans How to Develop the Right Information for the Right Audience
- Defines the Content Vision
Defining the content vision relies on understanding the audience needs and the business goals. If a business doesn’t provide information that their customers want, then they’ll fail. The content strategist’s role is to define the vision for how the content will satisfy and delight the audience while helping to achieve business goals.
- Develops the Governance Plan & Content Development Workflows
An important step in making sure the right information is presented, there needs to be a plan for who is responsible for developing, approving and posting content. A Content Strategist develops that plan for how the information will be written, who is responsible to develop and how to keep the information updated so readers will receive accurate information.
- Ensures the Brand Voice is Maintained
In many cases, several people are responsible for posting information on corporate and organization websites. This causes a challenge to maintain a constant voice for a seamless experience. A Content Strategist develops content guidelines and trains content developers how to write for the digital experience.
Ensures the Content is Presented in the Right Way
- Works Closely with UXAs
Content strategists need UXA to make sure the content is structured and functions properly on the site. Without a UXA, content would not be useful to the reader.
- Works Closely with Visual Designers
Brand voice is expressed via words, imagery and color. A Content Strategist works closely with visual designers to ensure the brand voice shines through visual experience.
- Works Closely with Technical Developers
Technical developers are content strategists best friends. Without them, we wouldn’t have control over posting/removing content somewhat independent of the technical team. A Content Strategist works closely with the technical developer to make sure the content management system is easy-to-use for a content authors, and it displays the content in the right place at the right time.
The Difference Between Content Strategist & UXA
Here’s the simple explanation:
A content strategist defines what information needs to be presented. The UXA determines how the information needs to be presented. The UXA is only focused on the layout of the content. The content strategist also focuses on the operations of how the site will be populated with content. We’ll talk more about that in another blog post.
How does a Content Strategist & UXA Work Together
In my experience, the most successful and enjoyable website redesign projects was when I worked closely with the UXA. We respected each other, we listened to each other’s ideas and we saw our process as a team approach, including:
The content strategists provides UXAs with a content brief that outlines:
- Current content
- Opportunities to improve
- Content elements to include
- Limitations from the organization’s perspective
The UXA shares ideas for how to display content
Sitting in a room, coming up with ideas on how to design the right experience, new opportunities are more likely to come alive. Because the two professionals are looking at the experience with two different lenses, the overall experience design ends up being well rounded and usable – SUCCESS!
The Similarity Between Content Strategy & UX
Both the content strategist and the UXA want to make sure the audience will find the information they need quickly and with little frustration. Both the content strategists and UXA make sure:
- All information is easy to find on the site, either through navigation or search
- The right information is presented
- The information is easy to understand
- The information is presented at the right moment so the reader will be delighted that the information was where they expected it would be when they needed it
Why Content Strategists Need to Know UX
A Content Strategist needs to understand basic UX terminology and processes to know how to communicate and work together to design an exceptional and delightful experience. The conversation between the content strategist and UXA is a critical point to ensure the information will be presented the right way. A content strategist needs to understand the possibilities content can be displayed online. That means he/she needs to know:
- Wireframe terminology
- What a UXA needs to know to structure the content properly
- Online behavior of the targeted audience
Why UX Architects Need to Know Content Strategy
The UXA needs to understand how much, how little, the level of importance and how the information is going to solve the reader’s problem so they structure the site properly. It’s important that a UXA understands:
- Content hierarchy
- Expectations of the organization’s content owners
- Limitations to potential content to display
- How much content is available so space can be accounted for
Ultimately, the digital team support each other, whether they’re going through a website redesign, developing a new app or managing the ongoing operations. Each team member needs to understand what their teammates do so they can improve communication and be more efficient and effective. Plus, it’s more enjoyable to be part of a cohesive team.
Applied Content Strategy Course Teaches More Than Content Strategy
In my content strategy career training course, Applied Content Strategy, I provide students with the foundations they need to be a content strategist as well as how to fit within a digital design team. We walk through want their role is to support the UXA, visual designer and technical developer and vice versa.
Want to learn more about the content strategist role? Contact Rebecca Steurer, Content Academy® Co-Founder, Instructor & Content Coach at [email protected].