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Campus Life: Content Strategy

Background

I created a new content strategy for Kent State University’s Campus Life, a division, which includes departments such as Dining, Transportation, Housing, Student Organizations and University Health Services. The project’s main goal was to establish the foundation for a new content strategy, accounting for both content components, as well as governance. When implemented, the strategy would provide leadership and content creators an opportunity to update and properly maintain their content using shared guidelines, processes and procedures. The 14-week project included a wide range of content strategy deliverables. Each deliverable was intended to build upon the overall strategy and provide recommendations on ways to implement and improve the Campus Life site.

To begin the project, I developed a series of key objectives used to guide each phase of the project. These objectives helped determine measurable outcomes and set priorities, while meeting the needs of users and stakeholders.

  1. Define communication goals through a message architecture
  2. Create a consistent voice across all digital platforms for Campus Life, including University Health Services
  3. Develop a strategy to create and maintain content production throughout a content lifecycle
  4. Audit current content and make recommendations
  5. Increase trust and satisfaction among key demographics, including the personas

Message architecture: establishing defined communication priorities

I collaborated with two graduate students to organize a set of attributes into a hierarchy and define communication goals. The Campus Life message architecture creates a consistent and cohesive voice when communicating with users across all digital platforms. Using a shared terminology ensures that communication goals are reflected in the Campus Life voice. When creating new content or updating existing content, the following architecture and attributes should be used.


Style guide: emphasizing voice and tone

To create a consistent voice across all Campus Life web content that is trustworthy, dependable and approachable, I wrote a Style Guide, which included voice and tone, editorial guidelines and directions for key content types and formats. The Style Guide provides content creators with guidance on maintaining proper messaging across all platforms (voice), as well as situational recommendations to approaching content based on context (tone). By following the recommendations within the Style Guide, all web content should draw from the Campus Life personality.

View Style Guide

Lifecycle process: strategizing a content lifecycle

I developed a strategy to manage content production throughout the content lifecycle process. The lifecycle strategy established a guided, repeatable and scheduled process for setting goals, creating, reviewing, publishing, promoting, measuring and retiring content. A detailed strategy benefits both Campus Life goals and user needs by reducing uncertainty, setting priorities and defining success. While content attributes and topics may vary from page-to-page, the criteria provides a consistent framework for managing related content types at different stages of the content lifecycle.


Content audit: collecting and evaluating content

To gain a better understanding of the content landscape, I performed a detailed qualitative content audit. The audit revealed content type patterns, style guide inaccuracies, content standardization and redundant, outdated and trivial content (ROT). Additionally, the audit established a basis for missing content, as well as content that needs to be removed, updated or created.

In order to maintain a useful website that informs, educates and inspires, I identified redundant, outdated and trivial content. When published content is not maintained and controlled, it overwhelms the quality of a website and diminishes credibility and trust. Through the content audit, I identified undesired content and created an actionable tool for devising a strategy to review, publish, maintain, archive and delete content. Through these guidelines, UHS stakeholder can exercise better control of the website’s future content and therefore limit content ROT.


Content types and templates: optimizing content organization

Revealed during the audit, each page was analyzed in order to identify content type patterns and other commonalities. Content types are important because they provide a general framework for how content should be structured on each page. By identifying shared attributes within content types, it becomes much easier to standardize whole groups of pages, as well as find pages that are missing content or contain ROT.  By exploring each of the content types, patterns were identified and used to determine recommended template options for the website.


Content governance: building an organizational model

I provided recommendations on implementing and maintaining a new content governance model for Campus Life’s digital services and platforms. The governance model created a foundation for sustaining a high quality digital presence and achieving Campus Life’s goals and objectives while producing accessible content for students, faculty, staff and parents. The model included:

  • Current state: an overall evaluation of the current state of the website, opportunities for improvement and potential challenges if a governance model is not implemented.
  • Improvements resulting in effective governance: defined a set of short and long-term improvements resulting from governance.
  • Scope: determined how people, workflows and tasks can contribute to content planning, development and delivery.
  • Roles and responsibilities: in referencing the Stanford Social Innovation Review, I proposed a hybrid governance model, which supports collaboration, connectivity and expertise. Additionally, I outlined a series of key content roles including, a content oversight committee, senior editor, content specialist, subject matter expert, information technology designer and marketing strategist.
  • Processes and principles: to manage content production and accelerate an organization’s ability to make well-informed decisions, I constructed day-to-day processes and workflows, accounting for roles, timelines and editorial oversight.

Key performance indicators: measuring success

In order to measure long-term content success, I developed a series of key performance indicators (KPI’s). The KPI’s provided stakeholders with a strategy to measure and achieve performance goals and identify future areas of opportunity.


Editorial calendar: planning future content

I designed an editorial calendar which emphasized the entire content lifecycle process and served as a guide to organize content, determine contributors, identify distribution channels, measure results and track status. Furthermore, this process allows for long-term content planning and ensures that content is properly optimized and promoted to target audiences.


Omnichannel experience: offering multiple touchpoints

I worked with a team of students to create an omnichannel experience for those engaging with Campus Life departments. Omnichannel, which accounts for a continuous user experience across platforms, allowed our group to build an adaptive method for delivering content to Kent State audiences in the form of mobile, desktop, in-person, social media and kiosks.