One of the biggest, hidden benefits of carrying out a content strategy is that it can help develop an extremely useful mental habit in life: thinking about other people.
At the beginning of a web project you spend time analyzing the context in which the website has to work.
Among other things, you focus on what you want to achieve, who you’re talking to and hence what you need to say and how. You reflect on what exactly will make your communication successful. At meetings, people talk about various issues that then crop up over coffee or at lunch time… they understand that in order to meet their goals, they’ll need to meet their audiences’. That in order to create good content they’ll need to take into account different people in the organization.
All the thought and work involved in the analysis phase is crucial for the success of the web project, and it is also relevant to shed light on areas that need to be improved in the organization.
The great thing is, the analysis is also useful to change the way people approach communication acts in general.
I’ve had a few customers who were slightly reluctant to devoting time and effort to the analysis phase of a content strategy. And I’ve seen these same people call me a few months later to help them with leaflets, presentations, and even difficult e-mails. The nice surprise is, they all knew well what the first step would be.
They were ready to ask and answer all the relevant questions before thinking about the exact words or the graphic design. They had developed the habit of thinking about “the other”, not just about themselves as an organization.
My hope now is that this habit extends beyond the written communication and reaches all kinds of communication acts. Especially work meetings. The day people take some time before a meeting to try and think what the other people at the table know, what they’re expecting, and what the best way to talk to each other is, work meetings will be much more efficient. And pleasant.