Many of you may not have known that I’ve spent the last year-and-a-half with the City of Vancouver, working on redeveloping their website.
When I agreed to work on this project for the city, I didn’t put my consulting practice on hold because I was going to be making tons more money. I took a big cut in income because I had the chance to work on a project that I could tell was going to be exciting, and produce something really useful for the public. I think it’s amazing that we managed to accomplish everything we did on such a bare bones budget.
One of the best governance consultancies around – Welchman-Pierpoint – recommended that the project have 24 writers to rewrite the content for the new site. We got 8. But it was a hand-picked eight. And those 8 writers managed to work a miracle. We got all of the business-critical content rewritten for the new content models in a little over a year. Wow.
Along the way, I learned some important lessons:
I learned that if you beg and borrow expertise from all over an organization to supplement your team, in the process, you’ll break down organizational silos. (We did in a big way).
I learned that you can bring best practices, and you’ll also develop more along the way. (We brought some to the site – and to the organization.)
I learned that it’s way easier to develop and implement a content strategy when you get to build on the user and UX research done by a firm (in this case, Open Road) that takes the time to think through concepts at a deeper level.
I learned a great appreciation for the other skill sets on a project: strong leadership from the director (my boss), one of the best project managers I’ve ever worked with (I’ve worked with a lot), a creative UX guy, a couple of wonderful business analysts who could slice and dice data like nobody’s business, and a newfound respect for what good quality assurance testing brings to the table.
At the beginning of the project, I was asked to enumerate all of the activities and deliverables I would create. Today was the first time I had the time to slow down and look at that list. I’d tackled double the amount of issues I’d expected to – and it all went toward improving content delivery and making the site a better user experience.
Altogether, that’s way more than I ever hoped to accomplish on this project, and I can leave knowing that I, along with an amazing team of dedicated content strategists and technologists gave it our all and have some solid results to show for it.
If you haven’t gone to the site yet, Vancouver online is waiting for you.
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- 2012 in Review – a Content Strategy Retrospective
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- Working on the City of Vancouver website
- Occupying a unique content strategy space
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- Setting a context for a content strategy vocabulary
- Content classification and findability
- Content development
- Content management
- Content strategy
- Information design and usability
- Professional development
- Social media
- User experience
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- rahelab: Style guides work in #contentstrategy only if all team members memorize hundreds of rules. What's better? http://t.co/Fhn8iq0lev
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