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Content Strategy and Information Architecture

As you’ve probably heard before: If content is king, then content strategy is the king-maker. In today’s age of digital and experience design, the value of this abstract discipline of content strategy has expanded tremendously. Strategising to build findable, valuable, and meaningful content is for way more than improving webpage visibility. In fact, it informs the information architecture (IA) of a product or service. This, in turn, helps build the foundation of an efficient user experience. Because of this, it is not uncommon that content strategists build IAs as well. In essence, we build IAs to help users navigate the service or product. Whether it is a content page or a spatial project, a solid IA helps the user find what they want and need to find.

Chemistry Team's work on the content strategy and UI for Singapore Visitor's Centre's kiosk
UI for Singapore Visitor’s Centre’s kiosks

Omni-channel content strategy

In sum, content strategy is concerned with broad content goals. This involves creating interesting content that can be found by the target demography on their respective consumed mediums. This amalgamation of strategic design and editorial processes ensures a sense of coherence and governance in content development and publishing. Subsequently, the creation of the smartphone made this task even more momentous. Catering to an omni-channel content landscape made the adoption of a hard strategy even more necessary. The rise of multiple online channels increased the need for content strategy to work in tandem or borrow concepts from IA. Here’s why –

The IA of a page, app, or any other digital interface involves the ‘mapping’ of information relative to the position of the user. This involves things like visual/content hierarchies, sitemaps, and metadata creation. Content strategists require these tools to ensure that the user is able find what they want or need. As mentioned before, content strategists are concerned with the goal of the product or service. More often than not, these goals involve the user having a seamless user experience which results in a decision.

The User

As with most innovative processes, both IA and content strategy begins with the user. With the growing intelligence of Google’s search engine and the increasing need for high quality content, understanding your user has become the core of the content development process. As a result, content strategists do an extensive amount of research on their users’ motivations, pain-points, and goals. The insights gained will help inform the content design, which concerns delivering the right content, at the right time, in the right format. In addition, this includes the style, language, tone, and design elements that might impact how the target demography perceives the content.

Content Strategy required among more than one channel pushes the need for Information architecture tools
A Case for IA Tools

Essentially, the aforementioned variables encompasses the user experience. The IA process possesses many tools that help analyse the user. In addition, these tools provide quality insights that will inform the content strategy. This ranges from research methodologies like card sorting and usability tests to cognitive psychology elements like cognitive load and the differing mental models of users.

Information Architecture as the conduit

If content strategy provides a broader outlook on how content should be governed, published, and created, IA helps present the content optimally. By no means are these two disciplines separate. Rather, they work in tandem in order to provide a service with highly valued and easily findable content. As users, we never really think about how efficient the navigation of a site is. Instead, we merely peruse the content and decide for ourselves whether this page has good or bad content. However, we often miss the fact that pages we deem as having “good content” usually possesses a fantastic IA as well. It’s simple. You, as a user found:

  • Content that you deem “good” – Valuable
  • A webpage with content that peaks your interest – Findable
  • Yourself thinking about the content post-fact – Meaningful

All attributes of a good content strategy and information architecture.

Chemistry Team designed both the digital platform and retail experience for Redman, Phoon Huat.
Chemistry Team designed both the digital platform and retail experience for Redman, Phoon Huat.

In sum, beyond the buzzwords, creating content is just like creating any product or service in this age of experience. It has to be human-centered. So do your research, understand your audience, and strategise to create a product that your user needs and wants.

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