Tag Archives: content strategy

End of Semester: MIST 7500

mario-jumping

Woo hoo! The semester is over! A professor asked me once what I learned in MIST 7500. This is an interesting question for me. I came into the Master of Internet Technology program with over a decade of experience in internet technology. I didn’t expect to learn a lot and I was disappointed. It turns out I actually did learn a lot, not about technology though, rather about how technology is applied and used in business. I learned these lessons from the professor and a few guest speakers sprinkled throughout the semester. I found that this was the key insight that I didn’t know I needed.

The application of internet technology in business was the focus of the first several classes. We learned about the The Business Model Canvas, SWOT analysis, and Porter’s 5 Forces Model, among others. These abstractions of business serve to simplify and focus what an organization is all about providing managers and stakeholders with a framework to make decisions. Applying these analytic methods to my work has enabled me to focus my limited time and effort to the most effective part of the problems I am presented with.

The most notable guest speaker in my view was Colleen Jones. Her focus is content strategy, a nascent specialty that leverages analytic methods and scientific research to determine the most effective strategy to leverage web content to achieve an organization’s goals. In the 90s and 00s the focus of web strategy was simply to have a presence on the web. Recently though innovation has abstracted many of the technological hurdles away clearing the way for Colleen and her analytical methods. With her book Clout: the Art and Science of Influential Web Content (reviewed here on this blog) and her consultancy Content Science she has become one of the foremost thought leaders in Content Strategy.

Another speaker I thought was interesting was Jason Lannen who discussed auditing and controls in IT. Working in the government this hit close to home. Almost everything I deal with on daily basis has to do with some level of auditing and controls. Hearing how this is handled in the private sector provided me with insights enabling me to contrast my experience with his. This made me a lot less frustrated with many of the challenges I face at work.

On the technical side of things Dr. Piercy’s lessons served to reinforce what I already knew and fill in the gaps of the things I didn’t. We learned about the role of the W3C and other standards governing bodies that bring order to the chaos. I coded my first Java program in years, a great exercise for a .NET C# developer. Furthermore we learned about cloud computing in the Amazon environment, big data, HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and the fundamental building blocks of the technology the Internet is based on.

All in all, I feel a lot less full of crap.

Book Review – Clout: the Art and Science of Influential Web Content

As a web developer, I don’t get very close to the content. In fact, over the years, I’ve become blind to it when coding clients’ websites. It might as well be “lorum ipsum” gibberish like that found on Microsoft Word templates. Granted without this content there would be no websites for me to work on. Well…at least there shouldn't be. There are many sites out there that put the technical effort into the coding and treat the content as an afterthought. Content should in fact come first, before coding. This requires developing a proper content strategy and a plan to implement it.

In Clout, the author Colleen Jones concisely outlines the methods and techniques that will aid the development of a successful Content Strategy. There are numerous real-world examples that support the core principles of context, rhetoric and psychology. She advises content creators to turn off their fire hose of information, suggesting effective, proven tools to reach people. These techniques are proven to filter out the static.

This book is a top resource regarding the implementation of content strategy. Clients who are inexperienced or non-technical usually don’t understand why developers can’t make the gibberish better. Content just isn’t our forte. Clout is a well-researched and authoritative source for developers who want to help their clients make content work.

You can find out more about Colleen Jones at her blog, Winning Content. She also is runs a boutique consultancy, Content Science, that practices what she preaches for clients such as InterContinental Hotels Group, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Footsmart, among others.