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Published on December 28th, 2012 | by Rahel Bailie


2012 in Review – a Content Strategy Retrospective

Were any of us surprised that the world didn’t end? I’m not, but waited to do my year-end backwards look until the last minute. Just in case.

2012 was a year of collaboration. This isn’t to say that collaborative efforts weren’t underway in previous years, but the cumulative efforts resulted in some significant outcomes this year.

Usability in Government Systems

Usability in Government Systems: User Experience Design for Citizens and Public Servants, is a book I’m honoured to have contributed a chapter. Edited by Elizabeth Buie and Dianne Murray, this book is a highly collaborative effort, with contributions from over twenty seasoned professionals in the broader UX field. The project ran like clockwork, thanks in large part to Elizabeth’s project management.

City of Vancouver website

The launch of a radically new website for the City of Vancouver took so much collaboration that it could take me an entire article to do it justice. I may attempt that in 2013, but for now, I’ll limit myself to briefly outlining some of the collaborative efforts:

  • The crew at Open Road, who provided the excellent user analysis that contributed to the next layers of work on the website.
  • The excellent project team at the City of Vancouver – this team pulled together a minor miracle in getting the content from the previous sprawling website to coalesce into a lean, cohesive corpus that is welcoming and useful.
  • The folks at Analytic Design Group, whose usability testing allowed us to go back and make improvements.

Content Strategy Meetup

A couple of years ago, I launched the content strategy meetup group in Vancouver, but really didn’t have the time or energy to put in the effort to grow it. When the IA meet-up organizers asked to take over the programming, how could I not turn it over to them to nurture? IDI’s current contribution may only be monetary at the moment, but it still qualifies as a collaboration of sorts.

Content Strategy Workshops

This year was a milestone for content strategy training events.  IDI and  The Content Wrangler formed a logical collaborative team to hold the first content strategy workshop intensive event. As a further collaborative effort, we worked with Lavacon to co-locate the events, making it easier for participants to get their fill of content strategy in a single trip.

The Content Strategy Practice Deck

Taking a page from the UX field, where decks of cards are used by practitioners to externalize practices and make deliverables feel more tangible, IDI collaborated with The Content Wrangler and CS Applied to produce a set of cards for the content strategy practitioner. The starter deck has 12 cards, each with an activity or deliverable, an explanation of what it is and its context of use. The cards will be available from the Content Strategy Workshops site, starting 2013.

Content Strategy Applied

When, after the first CS Forum in 2010, there seemed to be a lot of churn about the who, what, when, where, and how of putting on the next conference, eBay’s Lucie Hyde simply got an event underway that involved practical applications of content strategy.  Each year since, IDI has been a part of this excellent conference, and The Content Wrangler has also come aboard. This year, the collaboration between Content Strategy Applied and Content Strategy Workshops moved to a new level, with the creation of co-branded collateral, the Content Strategy Practice Deck, for attendees of the 2013 event.

Content Strategy – the book

Although this collaboration has been mentioned last, it is certainly the longest and most intense collaboration of my year. Noz Urbina and I had been working on Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits for over two years. Richard Hamilton of XML Press believed in us when the other presses told me things like “well, we’ve published a content strategy book, and there’s likely not room for another book in this niche market.” The book has finally gone to market, and we have a raft of collaborators to thank, including practitioners who contributed case studies to advance readers to those who came forward to offer their help with contributions of graphics, indexing, and editing. We even have our first review. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Collaborating in the year ahead

2013 may prove to be an equally exciting and collaborative year. The year starts with collaborations around book launches and conference presentations, a highly-collaborative work project, and more content strategy training events. Several organizations to sit on advisory committees, contributing to digital communication, digital strategy, and related initiatives. It’s also the year to contribute to additions to the Practice Deck, and to create a series of articles elaborating on each card – an opportunity for collaboration if I ever saw one.

Looking forward to a great year ahead, and to connecting with many of you along the way.

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About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,

One Response to 2012 in Review – a Content Strategy Retrospective

  1. Rahel, Congratulations on a year of bountiful accomplishments. I don’t know how you did it all. May 2013 bring you many rewards.

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