My career began accidentally when I learned HTML in order to build my own web magazine. That led to jobs as a writer and a developer. Through the years, I've helped individuals start blogging; created a blogging initiative in an agency; been the first web content manager at a technology manufacturer; created strategies for small businesses; helped non-profits align their web tools and content; and written many stories about life, culture, and work.
What I have learned through a career at the intersection of content and code is that I feel most at home telling stories that impact me personally and I am most engaged when my work allows me to measure my results and optimize my content over an extended period of time.
Creating a content strategy is not a singular event but an ongoing process that requires a mixture of writing, editing, curating, managing data, and working alongside designers, developers, analysts, marketers, and stakeholders to realize a message in three dimensions.
I’ve written hundreds of stories for clients and myself. You can find a lot of them in two portfolios of mine.
I believe that to do good work, we have to focus on working simply and openly. I believe that so strongly that I wrote 40,000-odd words about it and put them in a book called good.simple.open.
Too often we set good work as our end and sacrifice our means to get there. When we eventually reach that end, we discover our path has been littered with bad processes, frustration, egos, and wasted hours.
A better route to good work is to go simply in our tools and methods and openly in our communication and workflow. Every step should allow the maximum transparency possible and ever-optimized, ego-less processes.
I use a simple recipe to reduce tension and ego further…
1. DO NO HARM
When I start a job, given the time, I perform a complete content audit and run speed tests and analytics to establish an accurate baseline. The rule then is not to make any changes that harm that baseline.
2. OPTIMIZE INCREMENTALLY
Major updates to content, code, or design carry major risks and multiplying points of failure. To do no harm, we should optimize incrementally and constantly.
3. TEST THE SUBJECTIVE
Too often, and especially among creative individuals, egos get in the way of good work. Testing every facet allows us to remove our egos and instead rely on objective data. From email subject lines, to UX, to calls-to-action, constant optimization requires constant testing.
4. MEASURE RESULTS
To show growth from our baseline and the success or failure of our efforts, we must agree upon tools to measure our results. While we hypothesize about trends and make guesses about the reasoning of our audience, measurable results help us reduce subjectivity.