69 episodes

Content strategy matters. No matter what kind of content you create, no matter what industry you're in, no matter what your business role is, you need to be strategic about your content. We bring you the unique perspectives and insights of experienced content strategy experts.

Content Strategy Insights Larry Swanson

    • Management
    • 5.0, 7 Ratings

Content strategy matters. No matter what kind of content you create, no matter what industry you're in, no matter what your business role is, you need to be strategic about your content. We bring you the unique perspectives and insights of experienced content strategy experts.

    Carrie Hane: Content Strategy as a System – Episode 69

    Carrie Hane: Content Strategy as a System – Episode 69

    Carrie Hane

    Carrie Hane sees content strategy as a complex information ecosystem, not a simple stream of publications.

    Looking at content strategy as a system helps her give her clients a more complete picture of how content works.

    Carrie and I talked about:

    her recent decision to describe herself professionally by the activities she does instead of a job title or similar label

    her recent insight about the benefits of looking at content strategy as a system

    the problem of dealing with short-term thinking when content strategy is a long-term investment

    how the systems theory concepts of "stocks" and "flows" can provide a fuller picture of how content fits into an organization

    her hope that the idea of looking at content strategy as a system catches on and starts a conversation in the discipline

    how thinking about content strategy as a system can improve how agencies work with clients, and maybe even provide opportunities to deliver more and better service

    her ongoing efforts to learn about other domains and other disciplines and apply their insights to her work

    some of the fields of study that she thinks can make you a more well-rounded content strategist: statistics, psychology, marketing, relational databases, HTML, coding, design theory

    how studying a field like systems theory can help content strategists expand their thinking

    her frustration with folks who don't comprehend and appreciate the scope of content strategy

    how content strategy is more of a practice than a discipline

    the differences between the domain model used in her book and other models (systems models, mental models, ontology models, etc.)

    how the domain model is a useful tool for capturing the language related to a project and how it helps clients see the broader impact of her work

    what matters to her: "making sure people see all the pieces and can connect the dots that matter"

    Links to publications and people mentioned in the interview:

    Thinking in Systems: A Primer" by Donella Meadows

    You're Never Going to Sell Content Strategy blog post

    Aaron Bradley's blog on knowledge graphs, linked data, and semantic technologies

    taxonomy expert Bob Kasenchak

    research paper on content maturity in associations with Hilary Marsh and Dina Lewis

    her upcoming talk at OmnichannelX

    Carrie's Bio

    Carrie Hane is a creative problem solver and connector of people, processes, and technology. For more than 20 years, she's been helping organizations transform to meet the ever-changing needs of the people they serve and take advantage of the latest technology.

    She is the co-author of Designing Connected Content: Plan and Model Digital Products for Today and Tomorrow (New Riders, 2018), a handbook for a pioneering approach to sustainable digital publishing. Today, Carrie helps make health communication more accessible and relevant along with her colleagues and clients at Palladian Partners.

    She has a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Northern Michigan University and a Master's in International Affairs from The George Washington University. By far the most enlightening education she has received is being the mother of boys for over 17 years.

    Follow Carrie:


    TanzenConsulting.com (blog)



    Here’s the video version of our conversation:


    Podcast Intro Transcript

    The field of content strategy has a lot of moving parts. Some folks try to explain it with simple publishing flow models. Carrie Hane sees content strategy more like an information ecosystem than a stream of publications. By looking at the practice as a complex system she'...

    • 30 min
    Nam-ho Park: People-First Digital Experience Design – Episode 68

    Nam-ho Park: People-First Digital Experience Design – Episode 68

    Nam-ho Park

    Nam-ho Park is a digital strategist who always puts people first and technology last.

    Nam-ho first designed experiences for people as an architecture student at Columbia University. The appreciation he developed then for the importance of genuinely human-centered design practice serves him well today.

    In fact, he hopes that we'll someday drop the word "digital" and return to genuinely human-centered strategy and design practices.

    Nam-ho and I talked about:

    the giant spider that crawled across his desk as we began the interview

    his role as a teacher at the University of Washington's iSchool

    his work with Carina, a startup that connects Medicaid patients with home health care aides

    his consulting work, helping clients navigate the technology landscape

    the importance of resolving people issues before settling on a technical solution to a business problem

    his comparison of content strategy and digital strategy practices

    his original background as an architect - and insights he learned then about the importance of experience design

    how his architecture background helps him visualize design complexity, appreciate standards, and properly contextualize tech platforms

    how quickly the digital landscape is changing and the ensuing tension that that creates between established principles and new ways of doing things

    David Weinberger's book Everything Is Miscellaneous and its insights about the benefits of being able to categorize bodies of knowledge in different user-focused ways

    the "leakiness" of the logic around some kinds of knowledge

    the challenges of truly understanding user intent, especially in the era of AI and machine learning

    the implications for technology designers of the rapid change brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic

    his hope that we'll drop the word "digital" at some point, and return to genuinely human-centered practices

    dark design patterns that serve businesses more than their customers and users

    Nam-ho's Bio

    Nam-ho Park has been active in crafting compelling digital experiences for over 20 years. He is faculty at the University of Washington’s Information School and Senior Product Designer at Carina, a nonprofit platform that connects qualified caregivers with those seeking in-home care. He is also the principal of PLAIN Strategies, providing outcome-focused digital strategies for nonprofits and impact-driven organizations.

    Having lived and worked in London, Seoul, Hanoi, New York, Washington D.C. and presently in Seattle for the past 9 years, he draws his experience from a lifetime of learning and exploring how we relate to technology and harness it for good. He has worked with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and has been a speaker at conferences including the Nonprofit Technology Conference, WebVisions and Drupalcon. He holds a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University.


    Here’s the video version of our conversation:


    Podcast Intro Transcript

    When you think about digital strategy, you might picture someone orchestrating the bits of information that zip across the networks that connect computers and other technological gadgets. In fact, technology is just a small part of the story. Nam-ho Park and his fellow digital strategists actually spend most of their time focused on the human beings who plan, design, and use websites, apps, and other products. I really enjoyed talking with Nam-ho about his people-first, technology-last approach to digital experience design.

    Interview Transcript


    Hi, everyone. Welcome to episode number 68 of the Content Strategy Insights podcast.

    • 29 min
    Andy Fitzgerald: Information Architecture for Digital Content – Episode 67

    Andy Fitzgerald: Information Architecture for Digital Content – Episode 67

    Andy Fitzgerald

    Andy Fitzgerald is an information architect who focuses on content for digital experiences.

    He helps organizations bridge the gaps between their users' human needs and the constraints and requirements of their digital systems.

    A website or other digital product will always have an information architecture. Being purposeful and intentional about its design yields better digital experiences.

    As Andy says, "Information architecture always happens – either by design or by default."

    Andy and I talked about:

    his background in information architecture, interaction design, and user research

    his definition of structured content: content that makes the relationships between its fundamental units clear and machine-readable

    the importance of focusing on humans - information architecture is a human-centered design practice - while harnessing the power of computers to serve them

    how information architects make content findable and understandable

    the importance of orienting yourself in the domain you're operating in as an information architect - and the important distinctions between domains and, for example, a website

    knowledge graphs and graph databases and how they differ from the tabular data formats that CMSs typically use

    an intermediate narrative/syntactic layer in content structure, between simple tabular data and semantically organized graph data, that can be organized serially to tell a story

    the complexity inherent in natural language, e.g. "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."

    the standards that underlie the creation of knowledge graphs

    how his Ph.D. in literature gave him the academic skills needed to consume advanced information in this quickly evolving field

    how machine learning and natural language processing are advancing the modern Semantic Web

    how responsive web design permits different ways of expressing messages

    the story behind his recent article, "Delivering Information architecture"

    how separating the creation of a classification scheme from its expression as a website navigation scheme can help keep stakeholders aligned and discussions harmonious

    how "an artifact is the end 1% of the other 99% that's thinking through the sets of problems"

    how "information architecture always happens - it either happens by design, or by default"

    how standards like ANSI and ISO guide his professional work and lend legitimacy to our craft

    how information architecture acts as an adapter, a bridge between two fundamentally different systems:

    human users, who are associative, heuristic, and approximate, and

    digital systems, which are enumerative, exhaustive, and exact

    his article, Delivering Information Architecture

    Andy's Bio

    Andy Fitzgerald is an independent information architect and digital experience designer. He works with organizations of all sizes to create elegant solutions to complex information problems. Prior to forming his own practice, Andy held design and director positions at Deloitte Digital, Anthro-Tech, and Frog, where he tackled the problem of effective communication in complex information spaces for a wide range of client organizations in healthcare, education, financial services, retail, entertainment, and transportation. Andy is an active member of the IA and experience design communities and speaks and leads workshops at UX and IA Conferences all over the world.


    Here’s the video version of our conversation:


    Podcast Intro Transcript

    Content professionals face a vexing problem when we try to organize information for digital media. The humans we serve want engaging stories and quick solutions.

    • 37 min
    Jack Molisani: Content Strategy Events – Episode 66

    Jack Molisani: Content Strategy Events – Episode 66

    Jack Molisani

    Jack Molisani knows how to put on an engaging and edifying professional conference.

    He founded and organizes the LavaCon technical content strategy conference, which draws hundreds of content professionals to cities like New Orleans and Portland each year.

    Jack has experimented over the years with virtualizing parts of his conferences, and he shares in this episode his discoveries about how to run online events.

    Jack and I talked about:

    the origins of the LavaCon conference

    his conscious choice to host LavaCon in smaller cities like New Orleans and Portland

    how he puts together the slate of speakers for LavaCon each year

    trends in content strategy - chatbots last year, structured content this year

    the history of content strategy and technical communication conferences

    his definition of content strategy

    the need for a content champion above the content silos, a UN of content, headed by a Chief Content Officer

    the challenges facing the conference industry

    how to virtualize conferences

    supporting small businesses during the current COVID-19 pandemic

    DITA and other good skills - like public speaking and improv - to study during the current downtime

    his generous offer to review resumes for job seekers (details below)

    Jacks' Bio

    Jack Molisani is the president of ProSpring Technical Staffing, an employment agency specializing in content professionals:

    He's the author of Be The Captain of Your Career: A New Approach to Career Planning and Advancement, which hit #5 on Amazon's Career and Resume Best Seller list.

    Jack also produces the LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and Technical Communication Management, to be held in New Orleans 25-28 October 2020.


    Here’s the video version of our conversation:


    Resources Mentioned in This Episode

    Karen McGrane: Content In the Zombie Apocalypse

    Minimum Viable Infrastructure for Enterprise Content, by Sarah O'Keefe

    The LavaCon YouTube channel with free content:

    The LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy

    LinkedIn Content Strategy Group

    Free resume reviews or if your company needs staffing help: Jack@ProspringStaffing.com

    Podcast Intro Transcript

    When you attend a professional conference, you may not think about the details that happen behind the scenes. Jack Molisani definitely thinks about them. As the organizer of the LavaCon content strategy conference, he seeks out interesting locations, scours the profession for the best speakers, and follows industry trends, aiming to create gatherings that are both enjoyable and enlightening. Jack has been virtualizing parts of his events for years, so he also has some great thoughts on the current shift to online events.

    Interview Transcript


    Hi, everyone. Welcome to episode number 66 of The Content Strategy Insights podcast. I'm really happy today to have with us Jack Molisani. He runs a staffing agency for content professionals and other technical professionals. He's written a book about how to manage a technical career. But I think he's probably best known as the founder and the organizer of the LavaCon conference. Let me welcome you to the show Jack and please tell the folks a little bit more about yourself and how LavaCon came to be in particular. That's what I'm interested in anyway.


    Sure. This is a fun story. Harken back to 1998, the Society for Technical Communications annual leadership summit. Someone had observed that at the time, none of the chapters in the Pacific Rim countries ever got to go to their own regional conferences because they were always held mainland US.

    • 31 min
    ConveyUX Strategy Panel: Balancing Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives – Episode 65

    ConveyUX Strategy Panel: Balancing Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives – Episode 65

    Larry Swanson, Laura Joss, Cora Cowles, and Brent Summers (left to right)

    Back in early March, when it was still safe to gather in person, we convened a panel of UX strategy experts at the ConveyUX conference in Seattle.

    Cora Cowles is Associate Experience Director at Huge Detroit

    Laura Joss is Global Director of the Design Research team at Motorola

    Brent Summers is Director of Marketing at Blink UX

    We had a broad-ranging discussion about how to balance quantitative and qualitative inputs into UX strategy. Each panelist brought a unique perspective. And the audience asked some great questions.

    This was the first "live" recording of this podcast. The format is a little different from the interviews I usually conduct. What do you think? Should I continue to experiment with different formats for the show?

    (Apologies for the audio issues from about 12:30 until 14:00. We had a technical problem, which the on-site staff resolved very quickly. Thanks to Laura for powering through this part of the conversation.)

    Cora, Laura, Brent, and I discussed:

    each of the panelists' professional background and approach

    common research challenges that UX strategists encounter

    different research set-ups, from fancy dedicated labs to remotely facilitated operations

    how alternating between quantitative and qualitative approaches benefits both

    the importance of stepping away from the research process to ask why you're doing it in the first place

    the difference between intuition and professional judgment - and how to go forward when you have a gut feeling about a course of research

    surprises that arise in the course of conducting research

    how to deal with financial data and other sensitive information

    how to convince stakeholders to support quantitative testing

    how do you know when you've done enough research to move on to the next stage

    how to cope when you are tasked with "slash" duties: slash architect, slash designer, etc.

    Panelist Bios

    Cora Cowles leads the user experience discipline for Huge Detroit in her role as Associate Experience Director. With over 13 years of varied experience across many industries—financial services, automotive and consumer packaged goods—and an MSI in human computer interaction from The University of Michigan, she specializes in information architecture and user research. Inquisitive when it matters most, Cora keeps an eye on new trends, but considers herself a purist in her role; she shies away from anything that does not directly benefit a user’s experience and is always searching for underlying root causes and contrary positions. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her two young children, and teaches dance as well as children’s cooking classes.

    Laura Joss, Ph.D. is the global director of the Design Research team at Motorola. Her team, with members located in Chicago, Sao Paolo, and Beijing, is tasked with uncovering unmet user needs and translating those needs into actionable outcomes for product teams and senior leadership. During her time at Motorola she has helped ship numerous smartphone innovations, including Moto Maker, Moto Mods, and other pain-point solving software innovations. Her work has included developing an on-site living lab for in-person, onsite research, and creating digital panels of users for continuous user engagement throughout the product life cycle. She holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience, and a Masters Degree in Judgment and Decision Making. In her spare time she loves exploring new wines- as long as its not barleywine.

    Brent Summers is an award-winning marketer and strategist with more than 15 years of experience in leading cross-functional teams in increasing brand awareness, driving business growth,

    • 46 min
    Elly Searle: Fierce UX-Writing Advocacy – Episode 64

    Elly Searle: Fierce UX-Writing Advocacy – Episode 64

    Elly Searle

    Elly Searle is a fierce advocate for UX writing.

    Like any UX professional, her advocacy starts with the end users of the products she works on.

    But Elly is probably best known for her work advocating for pay equity for her content teams. Thanks to her efforts, Elly's writers are treated the same as their design, research, and engineering counterparts.

    Elly and I talked about:

    her work at CrowdStrike as the head of content strategy for a fully distributed team

    how her remote workers collaborate, and their recent switch from Sketch to Figma

    her journey from tech support to technical writing to technical communications to UX

    her good fortune in landing at Microsoft just as they were taking more of an interest in conversational design

    how working at Nordstrom showed that a low bar to exit in retail makes UX writing a high-stakes practice

    how listening to the trusted sales people at Nordstrom informed UX writing practice there

    her fierce advocacy for end users, and for internal users

    and her equally fierce advocacy for UX writers

    how she quantified the results of her work at Nordstrom and thereby got her UX writers paid at the same level as engineers

    how the use of plain language helps front-line designers communicate better with non-technical stakeholders and improved training programs

    the importance of being mindful of which words you put in front of folks who will then use those words in conversations with end users

    the UX writing course that she and Torrey Podmajersky created at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts

    the growth of the field of UX writing

    the difference between voice design and conversational design

    her desire to see more UX-writing attention paid to enterprise clients, not solely the ultimate end users

    Elly's Bio

    Elly Searle has done a bit of everything in the user experience world: broad-reaching consumer products with Windows, customer-centric retail at Nordstrom, and technical apps for enterprise audiences in cybersecurity. She received her Masters from University of Washington Human-Centered Design & Engineering program, and founded the tech writing and UX writing teams at CrowdStrike. Elly co-created the UX Writing Fundamentals curriculum for Seattle’s School of Visual Concepts. She’s a fierce advocate of treating writing, design, research, and engineering as equals, in product development and career growth.


    Here’s the video version of our conversation:


    Podcast Intro Transcript

    If you're working in content strategy or UX writing and making a good salary, you may owe Elly Searle a note of thanks. Elly is a fierce advocate for equal pay for content folks who work on product and enterprise teams. At companies like Nordstrom and CrowdStrike, she has shown the value of her teams' work and aligned their pay with the technical and design talent they work alongside. Elly is also a content-strategy educator and a thoughtful advocate for plain language. We had a fun conversation. I hope you enjoy it, too.

    Interview Transcript


    Hi everyone. Welcome to episode number 64 of the Content Strategy Insights podcast. I'm really happy today to have with us Elly Searle. Elly is the Head of Content Strategy at CrowdStrike and Elly tell the folks, because CrowdStrike isn't a household name like some of the companies I've had on, but tell us a little bit about CrowdStrike and what you do there.


    Sure. CrowdStrike, we are called an endpoint security company, so if you're familiar with like McAfee or Norton or something like that, it runs on servers and laptops and is looking for intrusions, it's looking for software that shouldn't be running there,

    • 28 min

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A true gem!

This podcast is just brilliant. It brings so much value and practical knowledge. Each episode is a revelation. An enormous Thank You for the author and for his amazing and generous guests!

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Insightful Beyond Its Domain

Whether or not you're in the content business, Larry Swanson ellicits interesting, useful observations and advice about information of all kinds: how to gather, organize, and tailor content to your audience(s), roles and responsibilities of people involved, the impact of technology on media, and much, much more.

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