Content Strategy for Fun and Profit
May 12, 2022 9:14 AM   Subscribe

I asked a question about careers for disaffected librarians several months back. I am still a disaffected librarian and have no plans to leave, but I do need help creating a professional development plan for a skillset I'd like to develop.

I recently saw a content strategist job that is 1000% up my alley and makes me think this might be a good field for me. Conveniently, the skills required would be really useful for my current organization, so I'd love to start developing them.

I started my career as a web librarian and just know enough about IA/UX/content strategy to be dangerous, but it's been 8 years since I've really been immersed in this stuff. I'm not a cataloger or digital archivist, but I have passing familiarity with those fields.

So: I want to learn to strategically wrangle large amounts of digital content. What books should I read, what classes/tutorials should I complete, what technologies should I learn? I've got the recommendation of Abby Covert's work - what other professional resources might be of interest? Any other advice is welcome.
posted by toastedcheese to Work & Money (3 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: I wish I knew of anyone who I felt was teaching this effectively whose direction I could point you in. But the best advice I can give to someone who wants to get into UX is to focus on portfolio as much as you can. The way that you get a UX job is to be able to prove that you know how to do it, and the best currency for that is to be able to show your work. I wish that someone had told me how important this was when I was in school because I wasted a great amount of time doing everything under the sun except things I could build a portfolio around. When you are interviewing for these jobs, the interviewer is trying to wind up with someone who will be able to get right to work, know what needs to be done, and execute it, so you need to show evidence that you can do that.
posted by bleep at 10:35 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Three's a nice easy starting point for this, and she's called Kristina Halvorson. Kristina didn't necessarily invent content strategy - the general ideas have been around for a while - but she certainly codified what it is, how to do it, and generally brought the disparate elements together to form them into what we now call "content strategy".

There is no-one I've ever met who works as a content designer, content strategist, or UX/UI designer (roles which are commonly adjacent to me) who is not aware of her. Fortunately she writes a lot, and podcasts a lot, and from her you will find lots of useful resources to dive into the work of content strategy.

Good luck, it's a fascinating and fulfilling area!
posted by underclocked at 11:52 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I'm a UX designer with an MLIS who works at an R1 university. I'm not an IA anymore (though that's how I got into UX) nor a content strategist, but I do spend a lot of time on UI text and usable/accessible/effective content as part of my general UX & UI design process.

+1 to both Kristina Halvorson and Abby Covert, for sure.

Kristina Halvorson often presents at and writes for A List Apart / An Event Apart. The conference is usually really good but maybe not 100% relevant to you, but they do publish lots of their talks for free, so check out their archive for Kristina and others.

Rosenfeld Media books are generally good (yes that's Louis Rosenfeld as in one of the authors of the polar bear book, which you should look at if you aren't familiar with it -- I haven't read it in years and am not sure what the more recent editions are like, but it's a great start for the foundations of the discipline of IA)

Are you at a university? Your institution (or your public library) might have a subscription to LinkedIn Learning, formerly known as Lynda.com. It includes on-demand videos on tons of different business, technical, and professional development topics. At my institution, the subscription is managed through our student career services office, but is available to all staff too.

Your library (higher ed or public) may also have a subscription to the O'Reilly database, which is called Safari (formerly Safari Online), and which appears to now be handled through ProQuest according to a 2017 press release. There's no good direct link to learn more about their list of published works because the actual O'Reilly Media site is just marketing blah blah, but they have a huge list, including the original polar bear book. Many are about specific development topics or languages, but there are also lots about UX, design, and related stuff (Amazon link). If you're curious about a specific O'Reilly title that you otherwise can't access, let me know and I can access it on my institution's Safari subscription and take a look for you, before you buy.

Usability.gov is apparently retired/archived now but I still refer to their Content Strategy page occasionally. There are also some good reference links at the bottom.

The replacement for usability.gov is ditigal.gov; here is their content tagged "content" and "content strategy".

You should be familiar with Plain Language, if you're not already.

Accessible language and inclusive language are also places you might be able to spend some of your character points in order to stand out from others. (These links aren't necessarily vetted but they looked fine at a first glance -- but grain of salt)

Feel free to memail me!
posted by librarina at 9:45 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


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