Module 2: Content Strategy

Purpose (the Why)

After doing this assignment, you should be able to:

  • Understand the scope of the discipline of content strategy
  • Understand some of the important aspects of conducting a content audit and creating a content recommendations report
  • Conduct a content audit
  • Create content recommendations report

Technologies

On this module, you are encouraged to use any of the technologies available in the Bate 2018 computer lab or that you personally own, including word processors, web browsers, and online applications (e-mail, chat, blogging, etc.). We will cover some of these technologies as we go along, but you can use any that you are proficient with or want to experiment with on this module.

You will definitely need access to the following technologies to complete this module:

  1. A working and recently-updated Internet browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari are recommended)
  2. A word-processing application that allows for the production of documents in standard formats (.doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf; Microsoft Word, Open Office’s Writer, or Apple’s Pages are recommended)
  3. A reliable email client (Outlook, Apple’s Mail, or Gmail are recommended)

Genre (the What)

In the age of social technologies, content becomes incredibly important. By “content” I mean “relevant information.” Think about the World Wide Web: there is a lot of information on it that is completely useless to you at any given time. And the information you do need may be hard to find, may be inaccessible, or you may not even know you need it. In this environment, organizations who can deliver good content to people when they need it are going to have an enormous advantage.

Enter the position of content strategist as purveyor of relevant information. This is a person who is not a web designer, per se, but who often works in close proximity with designers to make sure content is useful. They will often conduct focus groups or other research to adapt existing content to customer needs. Overall, they manage, shape, and deliver content and teach organizations, and people within organizations, how to do so as well.

Your assignment in this module is to conduct a content audit of a website. From this content audit, you will then write a content recommendation report summarizing your findings and making recommendations for improvement.

Documents You Must Produce for this Project (Media and Modes)

The following writing and review tasks must be completed in Eli by the following dates / times:

  • 9/21/18: Draft of Content Recommendation Report is due to Eli by the start of class
  • 9/21/18: Review of Draft of Content Recommendation Report is due to Eli by the end of class

The following must be posted to Blackboard by the following dates / times:

  • 9/10/18: Homework #3 is due to Blackboard by the start of class
  • 9/26/18: Cover Letter (including how you individually contributed to your group’s project) and a final draft of a Content Recommendation Report is due to Blackboard by midnight

Audiences (the Who)

The only audience for your cover letter is your instructor, who will use it to evaluate the choices you made when constructing your documents. Your primary audience for your Content Recommendation Report is the creator of the website you are auditing. Your instructor is an important audience of this document as well, however, as he will assess it based on the grading criteria for this module. Your peers will also act as an audience by helping you respond effectively to this overall writing situation.

To Complete This Project (Workflow)

1) 9/10/18 by the start of class >>

Do Homework #3

2) 9/10/18 – 9/28/18 >>

Do some brainstorming about what website you want to audit. It should be a website that is in obvious need of help, but should also be about a topic that you have some professional interest in. Below are some ideas:

  1. Find a website on Webpages That Suck, a collection of terrible websites.
  2. Audit the website of a student organization you belong to or are familiar with.
  3. Audit the website of a local non-profit or small business.
  4. Audit the website of a professional society you belong to or are familiar with.

Next, you need to find 2-3 websites that are in the same genre (i.e. professional society website) as the one you are auditing, but that are more effective. Google is the best source for finding websites, of course. The goal here is to find 2-3 websites that are more effective than the one you are auditing in one or more of the following ways and then compare them to the site you’re auditing.

These questions will help you:

  • Visual design: how well does the website adopt modern  web aesthetics, including mobile responsiveness, layout, color scheme, use of white space, and use of images?
  • Typography: how well does the website use fonts? Are they appropriate? Appealing? Readable?
  • Content: how appealing is the content is more appealing for its target audience?
  • Interaction design: how appealing are the actions users can take on the website for a target audience?

Please use this Content Audit Template to help you.

Next, compare the website you are auditing to the more effective websites you’ve collected for each of the above categories.

To help you do this, create a simple table with the following information in Excel or another spreadsheet program:

  1. Column 1: Link
  2. Column 2: Visual design notes
  3. Column 3: Typography notes
  4. Column 4: Content notes
  5. Column 5: Interaction design notes 

4) 9/28/18 by the start of class >>

Draft of Content Recommendation Report is due to Eli

Compile your findings from your research into a draft of a brief 1-3 page report with the following sections and then upload this document as an attachment to Eli:

Executive Summary: Provide a brief, 1-2 paragraph summary of your findings from your research including:

  • What the overall purpose of your content audit was.
  • Any trends or patterns you will be highlighting from your content audit.
  • Recommendations you are making based on your content audit.

Findings: Describe your findings from your content audit in detail, being sure to use examples such as screenshots, quotes, or links to illustrate your main points.

Take-Away: Tell your audience how the website you audited can be improved. What are concrete actions the audience can take to improve the website?

5) 9/28/18 by the end of class >>

Review of Content Recommendation Report is due to Eli

Do a review of two of your peers’ documents in Eli. Remember: the key to a good review is to indicate what is successful and also what needs work. Doing only one of these things will not help the people you review.

I will also look through the drafts and make class-wide comments on the course website.

6) 10/3/18 by midnight ET >>

Revise all documents you’ve created. The point of these reviews is to help you improve your writing. This process will be negated if the draft you submit to Eli is the same as the draft you hand in as your final. Revise, revise, revise.

Be sure you log in to Eli to see what you reviewers said about your draft as you work on your final draft. Listen to your reviewers and make critical choices to improve your documents based on what they say.

Post your Cover Letter and a final draft of your Content Recommendation Report to Blackboard.

Grading Criteria

Grading Criteria for Module 2