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It Is All About the Content, Stupid!

It Is All About the Content, Stupid!

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Hello again.
Full disclosure, this email will be a rant because to be quite honest, I am fed up with watching people make the same dumb mistakes for over 25 years. However, if you enjoy watching a middle-aged man get frustrated and irritable, this is going to be the email for you!
Probably my biggest frustrations with my clients and peers across the sector is the utter contempt they seem to hold content in. It drives me nuts because at its heart that is what the web and the majority of websites are all about.
Okay, so utter contempt might be a little strong, but the content is definitely treated like a second class citizen. For example:
It amazes me that people redesign their websites every few years while simply migrating the content from one version to the next, leaving it largely untouched.
I encounter supposed UX designers who will endlessly tweak a site’s information architecture and visual hierarchy while ignoring the fact that the content itself doesn’t address the user’s needs.
There is the classic mistake of creating design concepts using nothing but Lorem Ipsum. No attempt is made to ensure copy and design work together. This has been a mistake designers have made since the ’90s, and it blows my mind it still happens!
Clients seem quite happy to spend obscene money on the latest content management system or design styling. Yet, they won’t hire a professional copywriter to work on the content that the system and design are meant to support.
Organisations regularly run internal training on how to use their content management system but never teach content creators how to create appropriate web content.
I could go on, but I suspect I am boring you now.
So what are we going to do about this, people? How can we fix this damaging culture that undervalues content? Well, I would be interested to hear what has worked for you and what you do to address the problem. However, I also thought I would share a few ideas of my own.
Start projects with user questions and tasks, not a list of things you want to say.
Avoid migrating content when you redesign. Instead, use it as a chance to streamline what is probably a bloated site if you are intimidated by the idea of rewriting the content.
Have a policy for dealing with legacy content. Don’t just ignore it and hope it goes away! If you don’t, progressing with your site will be nearly impossible.
Get good at making the case for hiring a professional!
Ensure your content creators at least understand the basics.
Involve users in the content creation process.
If you are a designer, work with content creators to chunk their content to give users a fighting chance of getting value from it.
In short, unless you already have a web content specialist in your organisation, then it falls to those of us who say we care about the user experience to take responsibility. You cannot claim to care about UX if you don’t care about content, because the content lies at the heart of experience on the vast majority of websites.
Okay, rant over. I feel better now. But don’t forget to let me know your techniques for dealing with this shitty situation, as I would genuinely like to know. so drop me an email.

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