Techniques for Audience Outreach
What pint-sized document can bring gallons of insight to a content project? Perhaps marketers, designers and strategists gravitate to personas because they are so flexible and evocative at the same time. Our favorite “people profiles” featured in two recent articles from Pybop and Boxes and Arrows. This focus on creating documents for others to use inspired us to also look at how we can save everyone time building and benefitting from personas.
Explore the world of persona creation and application to content with these resources:
by Sandra LeDuc, guest blogger
A few years ago, just days prior to a major website launch I was managing, I arrived at work to find a stack of papers atop my keyboard. The papers were print outs of the website content our marketing team had finalized several days prior. As I shuffled through the stack, my heart sank. The print outs were covered in red ink with multiple edits and comments. As I shook my head at the massive “paperless office” fail, I wondered how the approval process had gone awry.
It turned out I had the wrong person designated as the final content approver. Those marked up pages came from our group’s general manager, who’d just decided she needed to approve all marketing content. So our team worked nonstop for two days to “fix” the content. And while we made our launch date, it came at a high cost. I’d learned another valuable lesson about managing content workflow the hard way.
In a previous post, I wrote about some of the global, regional, and local issues we look for in doing a global content audit.
Some of the issues that matter for globalized sites, such as language support, design consistency, language consistency, localized metadata, text embedded in images, multiple versions of a single image file, and text stored as an image can be spotted just by running a CAT inventory and reviewing the job and resource detail views. Let’s take a look at how, using examples from the GE.com site, which has been translated into multiple languages and shows a good mix of best and bad practices for globalized sites.
To get a quick look at how many languages a site is published in, take a look at the URL list in job detail view. If the site has been constructed in a way that you can discern a locale from the URL, you can scan through (hint: filter your results to just pages, then sort by URL) and find the local versions. In this case, the Titles are descriptive enough to indicate the locale.
Is your company planning to roll out localized sites in new markets? Like any content strategy initiative, taking the time up front to do an inventory and audit will enable you to find the issues that will cause problems later both for your customers and for your internal teams managing the sites.
Every year, John Yunker, of bytelevel research, publishes the Web Globalization Report Card. The report card benchmarks 150 global sites, assessing them on these factors:
In addition to these measures, auditing for content issues that affect the quality of translation such as terminology, consistency, opportunities for reuse, as well as use of brand imagery and messaging will help prevent costly mistakes later.
Global websites offer special challenges for the content auditor. Global sites need to be audited for the same issues as non-global sites—consistency, currency, quality, competitive advantage, and so on—but the global aspect carries with it a new set of ramifications.
CAT-Power Your Global Audit
If you are auditing an existing localized site, using a CAT-powered inventory as your starting point allows you to quickly look for issues such as whether or not titles and metadata have been localized. You can also view and compare images across multiple localized sites to see whether and how they vary and find issues such as text stored as images or logos or other shared assets being managed by each individual site rather than centrally. Use the custom columns and tags to add your own data to the CAT results and, for example, find and view all instances of a particular landing page across various localized sites to look for similarities and differences. View screenshots of each page as you review the metadata, images, and links to spot branding issues or imagery, colors, or cultural references that need to be addressed. If you're in the scoping phase of an audit, word count allows you to estimate localization costs. All this without ever leaving the CAT dashboard.
Learn More About Global Content Auditing
There is much, much more to global content strategy and conducting global audits, of course, and we’re pleased to have several upcoming opportunities to share insights in person.
How Much is Your Time Worth?
The typical rap on content inventories is that they’re tedious, time-consuming, and, we’ll say it one more time, “mind-numbing.” But I think we can all agree that they’re also necessary and immensely useful for project scoping, content migration, and ongoing site maintenance.
According to the recent Firehead content strategy jobs landscape survey the typical rate for a freelance content strategist is just over $96/hour. For a salaried CS, the hourly rate is around $77.
We created CAT because we had the experience ourselves of spending many, many hours manually creating and updating spreadsheet-based content inventories. During the course of one particularly inventory-intensive project, a quick calculation of hours spent x bill rate led to a pretty obvious conclusion—there had to be a better way. Better ways of spending consultant time (analysis, strategy, implementation…) and better ways to spend client money. If a tool, such as CAT, could save a strategist even an hour—or two, or ten—at a price below a typical hourly rate, the return on investment seems to be an easy case to justify to the writers of the checks. And aside from the financial argument, there’s the investment of time and mindshare—spending less time creating the inventory and more time thinking and strategizing is, as we like to say, time well saved.
by Katherine Hagan, guest blogger
Designing for the Inner Dog
How conditioning and inferences influence content consumption
In a world of ever expanding web content it becomes increasingly difficult to attract attention to the specific content that makes your site unique. Using concepts such as classical conditioning can help us understand how users think and act to amplify this attention and focus on the most important content. Evaluation and audit of your content can take advantage of these conditioned behaviors to create focus exactly where you want, allowing inferences to direct your flow of information.
The concept of conditioning behavior is so well-known it’s practically pop culture. In The Big Bang Theory episode where Sheldon uses positive reinforcement in an attempt to change Penny’s behavior he gives her a chocolate every time she does something the way he wants. Pavlov showed that dogs could learn to salivate when he rang a bell, and since then, many of us have tried to adapt his theories for humans. From advertising to the design of intuitive interfaces, wouldn’t it be best if users felt rewarded for learning to navigate the digital space?
We are happy to announce that a new block subscription level is available. For those of our customers who work on smaller sites, we've added a new block of 5000 pages, for just $25. The new Level 1 block still includes all features and functionality of the existing blocks, just a lower page count.
Remember, too, that you can combine blocks to create a custom size that works for your site. All block purchases are cumulative, so you can add together whatever combination of blocks you need to get the pages you need. And unused pages remain in your account and can be added to later.
by Tosca Fasso, guest blogger
Five Fundamentals of Data Visualization
In the first post in this series, we explored the idea of using a combination of visuals and text in order to captivate our audience, crystallize our insights, and compel our clients and co-workers to act on our content strategy recommendations.
As good as this approach may sound to you (and I hope it does), if you’re not a visual thinker, you may be wondering how you’re going to actually create these graphics I’m talking about.
By Tosca Fasso, guest blogger
Keep Your Spreadsheet to Yourself
Many blog posts and conference sessions have been dedicated to the content audit: what it is, why it’s so important, and the best ways to do one. But as our industry becomes more familiar with audits and competent in conducting them, we’ve advanced to a new set of challenges.
To content strategists and others in user experience, the value of an audit is obvious. To some of our co-workers and clients it may be less so. Audits can seem mysterious, expensive, and time-consuming. Yet we sometimes bring them to the table as though everyone already understands them, cares about them, and wants to sift through them. Additionally, some content strategists have one flavor of presentation for every audience: the unfiltered display of all the interesting information they found.