That fine art of restoration

We all have a tendency to discard and dismiss things just because they’re seen as old and failing.

I’ve always greatly admired those with the skills, patience, and devotion required to restore objects to their once-glorious state. Take that rickety old chair left by your Great Aunt with tears in its cushions, blemishes on its veneer, and a woodworm-ridden leg that suggests to anyone who approaches with the intentions of sitting down that they risk ending up in crumpled heap. If only someone would be prepared to source the correct materials, discard anything that was beyond repair, and apply their knowledge of the materials, tools, and age to produce replacement pieces that match anything produced in its heyday.

In short: that there chair can be saved.

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Approaches to web content strategy

Anyone approaching the web content strategy discipline does so from a multitude of different backgrounds: writing, developing, designing, and marketing to name but a few.

All have taken up the challenge because they care about content on the web and the vital role it plays in delivering a great user experience.

By applying these diverse skills and experiences web content strategists are able to make a wide-ranging impact on a web team or project.

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In retrospect

I believe a retrospective approach should be taken with your archived web content. Someone, somewhere (you perhaps?) took the ultimate decision to remove that flash element or replace that call to action. Why? Maybe you saw it as no longer relevant or useful for your audience, maybe its timely nature meant it always had a limited exposure time, or perhaps it just was your PHP developer’s ugly die() function error message that was removed with little mercy?

Whatever the reason(s) behind its removal, start to ask yourself, and others who were involved in its creation and upkeep, some questions. What impact (if any) did it make? What did it contribute to the overall business goals? What did it help you achieve? How was it used by your audience? Was it the catalyst for more of this type of content? Was it ultimately a success or a failure?

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Decommissioning a doomed website

At the end of its own operational life, usually spanning several decades, a nuclear power plant will begin an equally lengthy process of decontamination, dismantling, and waste management.

Such are the dangers of handling and removing radioactive waste this procedure, called decommissioning, aims to minimise the risks by following a set of strict regulations that ensures public health and safety as well as the protection of the environment. Only when all traces of radioactive material have been removed will the public restrictions placed upon the facility and its surrounding area be lifted.

Though not a physical structure – and with a slightly less chance of damaging your long-term health – I believe that by following a rough set of stages a website can also be shut down effectively and with the user in mind throughout.

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The need for accurate and timely captions

After offering guarded praise to YouTube in my last post for their auto-captioning feature for English language videos I had the urge over the weekend to test how accurate and timely they really were.
So by uploading a publicly licenced video from the Internet Archive, which demonstrates how to download, print, and make a book, I was able to compare my own captions created using the free caption- and audio-description authoring tool MAGpie with those that YouTube had extracted.

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Work accessibility into your content strategy

Without question the most effective way of making audio and visual content accessible to the widest audience – including those with disabilities – is through the provision of text-based alternatives. Why? Because information rendered in electronic text can be easily enlarged for people with low vision, spoken aloud so that it’s easier for people with reading disabilities to understand, or rendered in whatever tactile form best meets the needs of a user. So what are some of the text-based options available to us for different types of audio and visual content? What could we be doing? What should we be doing? And how can a web content strategy help?

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A little taste of Paris

For those of us unable to reach Paris last month for the Content Strategy Forum and rub shoulders with a room full of people who think about web content more than is considered healthy, STC France have kindly published videos of all the presentations in the plenary hall, including the keynotes by Kristina Halvorson and Rahel Bailie. So make yourself comfortable, grab a notebook and pen, and pour yourself a glass or two of wine (preferably French). It’s just like being there.

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The delicious rise of content strategy

It’s just shy of eight months since I charted the number of delicious bookmarks tagged with ‘content strategy’ and found that there’d been a significant increase in bookmarking between the back end of 2008 and the first half of of 2009.
The data available to me at the time only went up as far as June, but we now have an additional seven month’s worth that takes us up to February of this year. Well, if that’s not an excuse to plot some more points on the graph then I don’t know what is.

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The social web pond

The social web platforms offer us a chance to engage directly and regularly with new and existing customers or clients, to put them first in the queue for special offers or new products, and to make it easy for them to share our content with their friends. But rather than let the first question be a case of choosing whether to launch a Facebook group, start a company blog, or register on Twitter, it should be to ask just how much time, resources, and budget we’re willing to commit – now and in the long term.

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