Q&A: Scott Kubie on Content Strategy, UX, and Design

Scott Kubie, lead content strategist at Wolfram, is an enthusiastic advocate for content strategy, user experience, and the community that surrounds the practice. Scott is also the next subject in our series of Q&As with industry leaders.

Scott Kubie, Lead Content Strategist at Wolfram
Scott Kubie, lead content strategist at Wolfram

Where did this all begin? How did you stumble upon content strategy?

Content Strategy, with a capital “C” and capital “S”, is an area of practice I discovered long after I was already doing the stuff most content strategists do. I’ve been interested in the web and technology since I was very young. Content strategy (and related disciplines like IA and UX) has been an excellent way to apply my strengths in design thinking, editorial strategy, and writing on web projects.

While all disciplines blend together to some degree, I have personally embraced the term content strategy because a lot of smart people are saying smart stuff about the kinds of problems I find interesting under that banner. It’s helpful to know what section of the bookstore to look in, so to speak.

That’s more the why. As for how, I worked on lots of projects that required writing, describing and marketing new ideas and technology products, and building communities. During all that, some timely connections in 2012 helped steer me toward the Information Architecture Summit community, which opened my eyes to all of the formal discussion around these areas of practice and gave me an opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

Now that you’ve been embedded in the content strategy and UX communities for a while, have you noticed any trends in where the conversation is heading?

It’s hard to discuss trends in so young a field. There’s lots still being discovered, documented, described and tested out. Personally, I’m finding that many of the content problems organizations struggle with are best addressed through good old-fashioned design thinking.

I’ve also observed that more content strategists are doing design work and more designers are working on content strategy — that’s a good thing! I hope the lessons and tools of content strategy thinking become ever more integral to the design process of anyone working with web content.

That’s a theme we’ve been seeing as well. The discussion seems to have expanded lately, from how to work across the silos of the organization to also talk about how strategists collaborate with peers in design, SEO, analytics, and so on. Each domain brings a unique, and valuable, perspective. It sounds like the design perspective brings a lot to the projects you work on?

I believe the world needs more designers. Lots more. So the work I find most rewarding is teaching what I know about design and content strategy to others and helping them feel more empowered to tackle their own content and website problems.

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Q&A: Scott Kubie on Content Strategy, UX, and Design

Q&A: Becky Vardaman on Content Strategy in Higher Ed

We’re huge fans of the people out in the field, doing the hard work of content strategy. We also love getting new perspectives and sharing advice. That’s why we’re launching a series of Q&As with industry leaders who can give insight into where content strategy has been and where it’s going.

Becky Vardaman, vice president of strategy at Converge Consulting
Becky Vardaman, vice president of strategy at Converge Consulting

First up is Becky Vardaman, vice president of strategy at Converge Consulting, a higher education marketing firm based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

How did you get into content strategy?

Like many people, I found content strategy while knee-deep in a content problem. At the time, I was faced with a big, unruly corporate website. A smaller site is more easily managed by one or two like-minded folks, but when you add volume and get other stakeholders involved, you have to have a plan if you want your content to be any good. I found a blog by Kristina Halvorson and felt an immediate kinship. I bought her book (and about 20 others), and I’m now a content strategy disciple.

So many content strategy careers were launched by Kristina’s writing. Now that you’ve been at it a while, where do you see things going next?

I see a lot of trends in the field. Here are a few:

  1.  More people know what content strategy is now and actually acknowledge that it’s necessary. That is a huge victory. However, most of those people have no idea how to actually DO content strategy day to day. I expect more organizations will invest resources in execution.
  2. Another trend I’m seeing is the development of some great tools, like Blaze, that help get this stuff done at scale. Some of the most tedious tasks are being streamlined, like content inventories, audits, and card sorts. This is one of the most exciting trends!
  3. There are also more platforms to worry about now, and more are entering the scene all of the time: social media networks, video platforms, microsites, and third party applications. Mapping and improving your content is a job that’s getting bigger, and I only expect that scope to grow.
  4. With every search engine algorithm change, the line between content strategy and search engine optimization blurs a little more. Many of the tactics are the same, and you really should be looking at them together. Good content = good search visibility. This is a good thing!

Continue reading “Q&A: Becky Vardaman on Content Strategy in Higher Ed”

Q&A: Becky Vardaman on Content Strategy in Higher Ed