2011 Conference

What Content Strategy Really Means for Higher Ed

View Session Details and Presenter’s Bio.

While many of us still don’t have much room in our schedules, or someone to work full-time on content, Kate Johnson re-affirmed to us the importance working on the task of “strategy stuff” within content. It is important to remember that content strategists do more than create info-graphics. In higher-ed web, content is complicated. After all, content strategy is about figuring out the entire content landscape of your website, including the content of micro-sites that may or may not tied directly to your university’s business goals.

Climb the Mountain

Content is messy and painful because it incorporates so many processes and details. Content strategy is further complicated by how we work with other people: administrators, photographers, support staff, writers (if we can be so lucky). Content also comes from multiple sources but is often left behind by those sources to be maintained and updated. The good news, we are figuring out content strategy.

A good content strategy helps organize and “attack”  the management and creation of content. This startegy can include a set of tools and processes to help simplify your life.

Get a Process

Kate emphasized these key points to help with your content strategy process creation.

1. Don’t go crazy. Write it down. Make decisions about what will happen to content.

2. Keep it flexible. Because content strategy is complex, it is an adaptive learning process to make it work.

3. Keep it realistic. Dial-back the dream of what can happen to a piece of content and rely on your instincts on how to publish it.

Process Tools

1. Prioritize your work

Many university’s have control over a variety of types of sites connected to a brand. Prioritizing which of these sites need content attention first is an important step in discovering more infomration about your content

2. Gather information

At the University of Denver, Kate makes use of the tool Yammer to get conversation rolling about the content of a particular site at a her University. This helps content strategists determine importance of most content. This can also give you information toward building a sitemap.

3. Content

Tip: go through questions you may have content with a site’s owner verbally. This helps you site owner know who’s in charge of creating new content for a site, like “upcoming event” information.

Create a content inventory. A content inventory template document has been provided by Kate (link below). This document will help you see exactly determine the content you’ll need on a site.

For clients, it is important to create the content one section at a time. Looking at the whole scope of a website is intimidating. Also, to keep it all organized, it can help to build a single Word document for every page on their site.

Collect expert content via interviews. This helps keep information about a particular topic in “human language.”

Some tips that help clients are: keep the voice simple, avoid the cut-and-paste from an old site, and live into the fact that creating content for the web is hard. Take it in steps. Having a style guide for your writers is a great tool to help answer common questions.

Edit where you can.

4. Post-launch and maintenance

Now that your young content is living in the world, you have to have a conversation with your client about keeping this content from dropping off the radar into content purgatory.

Determine a life-cycle. Kate’s outfit at the University of Denver encourages people to look at and, if necessary, edit every page of their site at least once a year. Obviously, a life-cycle’s length may be different for your site.

Set metrics. Talk about the goals you’d like to see the site to achieve in order to determine whether the site is successfully accommodating the user.


Kate talked about a number or resources to help you with content strategy at your university. These files can be downloaded from the University of Denver Web Communications website

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