Confab2012: 23 Takeaways
If you haven’t been tracking the Twittersphere of content savants and strategy evangelists this week, you might’ve missed the explosive firehose of information coming from Confab, the Content Strategy Conference.
To be honest, I’d nearly forgotten there even was a world outside the walls and social streams surrounding Confab these past three days. THAT is how monumental the experience was.
Beyond the flawlessly organized conference logistics and extraordinary abundance of social opportunities to mingle with other content enthusiasts, my mind was completely blown away by the wealth of knowledge every single person had to share. Of course, the challenge was deciding which sessions to attend. But I managed to narrow it down to a solid handful of sessions, including a workshop, that each provided some interesting new perspective for me to go back to my work with.
Below are my top 23 takeaways from Confab2012:
1. You must represent the needs of the users, not just business goals. To do this, you must sit at the table with the designers and the developers, and address the problem of UX together. Refuse to be tacked on at the end.
2. Show your workings. Highlight what you’ve done, why you did it, and how it worked. Show value in what you’re doing – it’ll earn you credibility.
3. We are nice people, but maybe it’s time to start being a little less nice. Don’t be afraid to ask the uncomfortable questions.
4. Encourage a trail of documentation. Emphasize value and context.
5. Get to breakfast early. Don’t overlook the stations on the perimeter.
6. Express your ideas using VIVID thinking: Make them Visual, Verbal, InterDependent to ensure they’re communicated clearly and memorably.
7. VIVID ideas have the characteristics of the FOREST (we love our acronyms): Form, Only Essentials, Recognizable, Evolving, Spans Differences, Targeted.
8. Knowing your team and stakeholders helps you understand how to present deliverables.
9. Bad CMS experiences for authors lead to bad customer experience.
10. Make your content distinct – avoid creating noise. You want people to heed your content. If no one understands how you’re different, then it’s just a matter of cost differentiation between you and your competitors.
11. Editorial first, architecture second. Governance works behind the scenes to make sure this goes smoothly. Not putting ed first risks misplaced content and amplified problems.
12. Curation is not aggregation. It is the human hand guiding the river of content into streams. Filter by time, audience, context, perspective, and view.
13. Content curation isn’t just about selection – it’s about juxtaposition and emphasis. Don’t forget about old stuff; bring the “back-catalogue of awesome” to light to enrich content.
14. On ethical curation: ensure it’s responsible, accurate to brand, flexible for UX, and transparent on bias.
15. Inquire contextually; do not base your content on interviews alone, or observation alone.
16. Features kill websites. Focus on experience.
17. Tim Tam Slam is not an alcoholic beverage.
18. SEO is not about making content for machines. It’s about letting machines get your content in front of people.
19. Build a team around SEO by emphasizing a consistent message. Find allies. Empower everyone to “think like an SEO”.
20. SEO isn’t about hot topics and keywords. Think about Google’s goals: finding content to match user intent.
21. Know about new tools, even if you won’t use them, because it’ll change your perception of possibilities.
22. Adaptive content is at the intersection of CMS, CSS, and CS. Better workflow is key to adaptive content.
23. There can never be enough cake.
Woo – that was tough.
The thing is, Confab left me with FAR more than 23 takeaways, but for now those are the true stand-outs I just had to share right away. And 23 is my lucky number.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the other insights and concepts I’ve looped into my work at ISITE.
On top of the learning and social aspects, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to give a Lightning Talk (an 8-minute power preso) to share my perspective as a self-proclaimed “newbie” to content strategy. Sharing the stage with 4 other lovely brunette ladies in front of a room full of like-minded professionals was both a fulfilling and verifying experience. (You can check out some of the backchannel banter in this Lightning Talk Storify, or download my fully-transcribed deck on SlideShare.)
Confab attendees are some of the most bright, passionate, fun, supportive people I’ve ever met. As a first-time conference attendee, the experience was unlike any other event I’ve been to, and I’ve already begun the countdown to next year.
Lead image courtesy Sean Tubridy.
Tim Tams courtesy Sally Bagshaw.