Content Strategy

Negotiating it with your team

By Jill Vacarra

The copywriter at your agency just crafted an artful headline, striking the perfect balance between informed and witty. The designer places it in her clean, modern design, and oops! It doesn’t fit. She cuts half of the words from the headline and hands it off. Both the designer and the writer then give conflicting character-count requirements to the developer.

How does a team negotiate this all-too-common problem? Content strategy, of course! As Primitive Spark’s Jill Vacarra and Wendy Ficklin explained during their Content Magic tutorial at the 2014 UXPA Conference in London, early team member communication is key to planning successful content strategy.

Early in your project, do a thorough content inventory and carefully weigh all the components to determine what content will be moving forward in your project. That way, all team members are on the same page for content requirements. This process is even more important when adapting content for responsive design.

Team negotiation is paramount. Often there isn’t enough space for the writer to say all she wants to say, so it’s up to the writer to fight for meaning! Get to the heart of the copy in as few words as possible. You may find tweeting to be good practice to help you get better at boiling down headlines in as few characters as possible. Then determine how design can impact the content. Capture the most important idea of the headline in one or two words which can then be emphasized in design.

However, neither the designer nor the writer is actually inputting the content into the website. Designers and writers need to work together to create a combined editorial and design style guideline for the CMS Manager to reference. CMS planning is key to content strategy. We suggest customizing the CMS so you can leave actual content entry How To instructions next to the CMS input field.

You can’t just say “presto!” to get content magic. That kind of magic can only happen when the team collaborates on strategy from the beginning.