Focusing on Content Strategy

image of a therapy dog

Therapy dogs came to visit LavaCon. I may have spent a lot of quality time playing with pups during session breaks. I also learned a lot about the various roles of therapy dogs, which go beyond hospitals, schools, and libraries. One was certified to provide emotional support for first responders and victims in the event of a tragedy or natural disaster.

Last week, I was in Portland, Oregon for the LavaCon Content Strategy Conference. It’s one of the rare events that I attend within my time zone. I have to admit that it’s very nice to have a short flight on Southwest rather than a long-haul journey on United.

LavaCon is an interesting conference for me, as it sits at the intersection of the technical communication and content strategy communities. This means that I get to spend quality time with colleagues from both worlds. It gives me a great opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas.

Of course, there was the usual emphasis on putting the customer first — something that many of my clients seem to forget. It’s amazing to me that companies would still default to feature lists and “about our company” upfront. Yet all their customers want to hear is the benefit of how this product solves their problem. It’s good to get some support and validation on this front. After months of shouting customer-first content strategy rhetoric into the void, I start to think that maybe I’m the crazy one. (I’m not.)

New Mediums

But one of the most interesting talks for me was by Andrea Zeller of Facebook. Andrea does content strategy for their virtual reality team. She talked about how in VR, there were no established rules, so it was important to evaluate content from the ground up. How much guidance did users need in this new VR world? How much is necessary for navigation to maximize the experience? Where is the line where too much information takes away from our suspension of disbelief in this virtual world?

It’s not often that we have the opportunity to rethink content in an entirely new medium. It got me thinking about my clients and their “ordinary” content, the kind that we’ve been doing for years. Where are we providing too much information and cluttering our message? Where are we providing too little, and leaving the customer searching for more?

It all ties back to the value-based, customer-first mentality. I want to ensure that every reader gets exactly what they need at the right time, and in the right voice. I want us all to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes with everything we write, from user documentation to website copy, and even virtual experiences.

Did you attend LavaCon? What were your big takeaways?

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