“Quality content is at the heart of all great websites, ” declares Gerry McGovern. A respected expert on customer-centric, task-focused content management, McGovern is the keynote speaker at London’s Content Strategy Forum, September 5-7, 2011.
In a recent interview with CS Forum, McGovern shared his thoughts on website task management, content creation and content strategy. Check out McGovern’s insights then listen to the entire 30-minute, information-packed podcast, below.
7 content strategy insights from Gerry McGovern
In the CS Forum interview, Gerry McGovern notes…
- Content strategy is not clearly defined. “I’m not quite sure what content strategy actually means,” admits McGovern with refreshing candor. If the practice’s experts can’t nail it down, how can we expect management to “get it”—and allocate budgets?
- Web content creators: Your primary job is task management, i.e., the whole enchilada—not just content creation, UX, IA or any other siloed specialty. Says McGovern: “…you have to be thinking about the journey that the customer is on rather than the unit of content that you are creating.”
- Content is a tactic, not a strategy. People don’t come to websites to read content. They arrive on your site to complete tasks. If they’re frustrated in their task-focused objectives, “they’re not going to say, ‘Oh I really like the content’,” quips McGovern.
- Kill your content darlings. Action-oriented links and menus are the most essential content you write. “[T]he most important web content isn’t even a sentence, let alone a paragraph,” says McGovern.
- Clarity trumps persuasion, according to research. Ouch.
- Usability is not a creative issue. “[T]he worst way to design a website is to have five smart people in the room drinking lattes,” says McGovern.
- The Web is thriving despite global economic implosions. The Web “… has never been more important and it’s going to grow in importance,” says McGovern. He asserts, “Those who can work with words in the right way have a tremendous future. But we have to work with words in the right way. That is to me very much an evidence-based approach: testing, testing, testing…”
Copywriters’ place in content’s life cycle
As copywriters, we feel validated hearing that content is still king. But McGovern reminds us that content creation is only a small part of content strategy, a practice that “plans for the creation, publication and governance of useful, usable content”. That’s a little deflating for writers whose careers are devoted to finding, composing, massaging and polishing exactly the right words. But there’s good news too: As expert “word workers,” writers still play a pivotal role in online content’s success or failure. The challenge, as McGovern notes, is doing content “the right way.”
For copywriters that means holding onto content strategy’s “big picture”—and staying on top of related disciplines. To that end, I plan to attend Content Strategy in a Day with Rahel Bailie near Washington DC on September 17. Any East Coast copywriters care to join me?
Would love to hear your thoughts on McGovern’s interview.
Photo of Gerry McGovern courtesy of Mojo Evolution