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I work on websites as my day job and enjoy working with people to optimize their content. I know a little bit about programming (like HTML, CSS and a little Javascript), but only enough to know how to work with content. More importantly, I understand websites as a business tool.

Web maturity model

I read a book called Data Driven by Thomas C. Redman that talks about how different businesses (or organizations) handle big data. The book includes a data maturity model that outlines five stages through which any organization may go as they understand how to handle their data. I’ve taken that model and modified it to web content and how organizations may understand the Internet. While each stage may suggest that web maturity connects directly to technology used, each stage actually connects with how organizations understand the usefulness or role of the web as a business tool.

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People vs. computers

A lesson I teach when training people how to use a web content management system is the difference between how people see content and how computers see content. Search engines, screen readers, browsers and different computers (like mobile phones or desktop computers) process content using computer language. While writers and other web publishers don’t have to know how to program these technology too, it is important to know how these tools work differently from people. Something as simple as punctuating an acronym on a website is important, because computers can’t tell the difference between IRA and Ira just because one is in all capitals and one only leads with a capital.

What is content strategy?

Content strategy, or web content strategy, helps you reach your audience as effectively as possible. It makes you focus on the content, which is how you reach your audience on the web. It makes you develop a strategy, because you need to think critically about what works best to communicate effectively. At it’s simplest, it is how you manage an ever changing conversation about what you have to offer.

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Four keys to good content

Start with business needs: the web is another way to help connect your clients to you through your business. When you clearly understand how your business works best offline, you can translate that more effectively to your website

Set success standards: your website is like an employee, in that it’s out there to work for you and help your business achieve goals. When you analyze how well it performs through web analytics data, you can make sure it performs at its best.

Combine context and data: if you understand what makes your business useful to your customers and what web analytics data means, you can make better decisions about your website that serve the business best.

Develop tools and processes: be sure to develop tools and processes for creating, editing, archiving and deleting content. This includes dedicated staff to use those tools and follow those processes.