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How Bad Content Ruined My Vacation

Emily Folstad

Ever wondered whether poorly planned content actually affects real people in real life? It does. Just ask my family.

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Content Battle of the Year

Clinton Forry

Kristina Halvorson and Joe Pulizzi face off on content, strategy, and marketing in our very first podcast.

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Mining for (Source) Content Gold

Amy Little

As a writer or editor, it’s ideal to get solid content strategy and background information before you start creating content. But sometimes you need to fend for yourself.

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Bangalore, we have a problem.

Elizabeth Saloka

I’ve just stumbled on a site that offers web content for $4. Four. Dollars. That’s like, a sandwich. A gas station sandwich. Since when did web content become such a cheap commodity?

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Web Content Style Guides that Don't Suck

Kristina Halvorson

The style guide is a long-overlooked tool in good content strategy. But style guides are a great investment for creating useful, usable content. Get some pointers here.

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“Hand-Crafted Content” vs. the Machine: Betting on the People

Kristina Halvorson

When it comes to content creation, bet on people, not algorithms.

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Can Your Content Strategy Handle the Truth About Governance?

Meghan Casey

Without governance, your content strategy has no teeth. And a content strategy without teeth may as well not exist.

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Clients Say the Darndest Things: How to Deal with Bad Feedback

Elizabeth Saloka

Your writing is magic. Their feedback is tragic.

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Dunk Your Splash Page

Beth Johnson

What value does a flashy splash page have if you know ahead of time that users will most likely not be interested in viewing it?

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Worried About Content "Below the Fold"? Don't Be.

David Bowen

Good news: There's no need to cram everything above The Mythical Line Below Which No Reader Ever Goes.

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Four free podcasts: Curation Best Practices

Kristina Halvorson

Listen in as Kristina talks content curation with IBM.com Editor-in-Chief, James Mathewson.

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What I Learned About Information Architecture From Watching Bad Movies

Christine Benson

Unsuccessful web experiences typically happen because there are somehow barriers between the users and their goals. And some of these barriers are similar to what makes a bad movie bad.

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Get to the Exclamation Point Online

Angie King

Feel the excitement! An exclamation point changes the tone. Just like that! Why, then, are we encouraged to steer clear of this titillating punctuation mark? The exclamation point—known on the street as the screamer and the bang—has a bad rap.

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Communication Tips from Client Services

Christine Benson

I learn a thing or two about effective communication from our catchphrase-loving VP of client services.

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Don't Put the Stagecoach Before the Horse

Erin Anderson

Before you leap onto the social media bandwagon, make sure these advanced tools actually play nice with your brand and your audience.

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Workflow That Works

Christine Benson

How many great ideas never get implemented or maintained because nobody ever bothered to figure out who would do the work? Or work was assigned to someone, but no one ever looked at the tasks that person was already doing?

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You Have Problems

Kristina Halvorson

I know. Web content hurts. But I have good news: there's a cure.

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The "Queen" school of content strategy

Melissa Rach

Start seeing content strategy everywhere. Even in epic rock bands.

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What We Say and What We Mean

Lee Thomas

Surely, We Can Say What We Mean.

Agreed. Now stop calling me Shirley.

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Five Things Content Strategy Can Do for You

Julie Vollenweider

Have a plan. Take care of it. Look like a hero.

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The John Hodgman Approach to Web Content

Angie King

We take a page from John Hodgman’s fictional reference book and apply it to a client’s website.

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The Value of Content, Part 2: Nobody’s Perfect

Melissa Rach

Get 7 tips for making your content measurement plan perfectly … imperfect.

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Don’t Use That Language With Me

Angie Halama

If your writing is filled with jargon, your audience might not be getting your message.

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Speed-dating your source content in 4 easy steps

Angie King

Learn how to weed out the duds (filler information) from the studs (meaty content that addresses users' needs) with our handy-dandy speed-dating tips.

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Tidings of Content & Calm

Lee Thomas

Less really is more. Ralphie double-dog-dares you to read this post.

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Let's get typical! Common strategy scenarios and results

Julie Vollenweider

Gracious stick figure illustrates common content strategy scenarios and results.

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Rupert Murdoch vs. the "Content Kleptomaniacs" and "Plagiarists" (See: Google)

Kristina Halvorson

When the religion of the Web is that you can find anything you want, from anywhere, at any time, Murdoch's plan is straight-up blasphemous.

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Is Your Metadata Miles Away from Complete?

Clinton Forry

Duplicate content and inaccurate or incomplete metadata creates a poor user experience. And sends me into a JAZZ RAGE.

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How to Board a Moving Train

Tenessa Gemelke

What can hoboes teach you about becoming a content strategist? Plenty.

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Making the Transaction

Katie Dohman

Writing and designing for the mobile web—it’s about being pithy on an even smaller scale. It's all about making transactions and none of the so-called filler.

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Content and the Technology of Today

Julie Vollenweider

Choose your own adventure! Technology has changed the way we read. Will it change the way we do content strategy, too?

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Four Kinds of Content to Consider for Your Web Content Strategy

Kristina Halvorson

Don't publish content just so you have something to show your boss or client. Consider the types of content out there, prioritze your needs, and commit to what you can sustain.

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Know Thy User

Meghan Casey

"I always open your emails because I know they'll contain something I can actually use." Ahh, music to our ears. How can we make that happen for every website and e-mail?

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Content People Care About: Find your Orphaned Baby Bear

Meghan Casey

You don’t need a cuddly orphaned baby bear to create content people care about. But you do need one of those strategy thingamajigs.

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Give Content Strategy a Fighting Chance

Meghan Casey

No stakeholder alignment. No content strategy. Get the people at the table committed to the content cause.

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Curation Nation

Kristina Halvorson

To curate or not to curate? Or is curation even a thing in the first place?

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Online endeavors need a spare tire

Clinton Forry

Your car isn’t the only thing that should come equipped with a spare tire. Make sure you’ve got one for your content, too.

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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Angie King

Think no one will notice or care about your little grammatical misstep? Inconceivable!

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Don’t Gamble with Automatic Feedback Copy

Angie King

Think users won’t be affected by bad automatic feedback copy? Don’t bet on it.

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Auditing big sites doesn’t have to be taxing

Christine Anameier

Now that U.S. tax day has come and gone, we can focus our attention on big audits.

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Content needs a new home

Kristina Halvorson

Unless your primary product or service is content, you probably still lack the appropriate infrastructure to support ongoing content creation and maintenance. Get one.

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The Content Inventory is Your Friend

Kristina Halvorson

Yep, that's right. Content inventories could change your LIFE.

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The History of IA and Other Tales

Melissa Rach

The web industry, like any other, has its own language. The difference between a good information architect and a great one is often the ability to communicate with clients.

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The Pitfalls of Placeholder Copy

Christine Benson

If you're trying to educate, influence, or inform, it's important to not look like you just slapped some text up on a page.

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Members vs. guests: how to label users on authenticated sites

Angie King

They say it's best to call a spade a spade. So why not call your members by name?

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Just fill in the blank?

Meghan Casey

Content strategy--thinking done by real, live humans--makes sure your content hits the mark.

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You’re hired: Outsourcing content work

Julie Vollenweider

Take a look at when, how and why it makes sense to tackle a copy project internally, or job it out.

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Governance Grows Up

Erin Kissane

Content governance is always a beast—especially when it comes to ongoing contributions from subject-matter experts. But it may finally be creeping into the heart of organizations.

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How Not to Write (or, dwell Loses a Customer)

Kristina Halvorson

Whether or not the coming year of dwell magazine actually would "thrill, inspire, and dazzle" us as its editor-in-chief guarantees, we'll never know.

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Sorting through the digital debris

Christine Anameier

Treatments or a cure for the common cold could be out there, but it would be hard to tell from a Google search.

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Best Practices for Mobile Web Writing

Angie King

Writing for the mobile web is a newish discipline. But this noob draws on an old standby: the inverted pyramid.

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The Value of Content, Part 1: Adam Smith never expected this

Melissa Rach

Brace yourselves, content folks. We're going to talk economics. I promise there will be no math involved.

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What vs. How

Julie Vollenweider

It’s not what you do that sets you apart, but how you do it.

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Engage Content Owners Early

Angie Halama

Do the people who review your web content undo all your web writing best practices? It's likely because they don't understand what makes good web content and why. Get them up to speed, and soon.

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Content Strategy Is Not User Experience

Erin Kissane

Up is down! Black is white! Marketers and data nerds living together!

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You’re So Not Welcome.

Erin Anderson

How do you help your user feel at home on your site without actually telling her to, uh, feel at home on your site?

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A Little Label Love Goes a Long Way

Christine Benson

Remember: content (rather than design) can show brand and personality.

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Brown Paper Packages

Lee Thomas

The holidays are over, but there’s one more package to unwrap. (Don’t worry, it’s not socks.)

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Style Guide Pep Talk: Rah! Rah! Rah!

Angie Halama

Style guides are a necessity, but updating them can be a hassle. So we want to cheer you on with some helpful tips and style guide spirit!

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For content problems, technology is not the thing

Kristina Halvorson

Don't try selecting a tool until you really understand what you're trying to build, and for whom. Start with your content strategy.

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When All of Your Content Is Video Content

Angie Halama

Some nytimes.com readers aren't so happy with the video content on the website.

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Content User Experience

Christine Benson

Check out this example of content user experience. You know, content. Like, in the happy sense.

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Content Strategy Can Help. Literally.

Christine Benson

Customers expect a help section to have helpful content. Make sure you don’t disappoint.

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Do It Like a Librarian: Ranganathan for Content Strategists

Claire Rasmussen

Although academia and consulting can sometimes seem like different planets, content strategists and librarians have a lot in common—after all, we all love content.

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"About Us" doesn't have to be all "Ugh."

Julie Vollenweider

Rather than using the "About Us" section of a site like a congratulatory press release, consider approaching it like a magazine’s Editor's Letter. And a little like a middle schooler.

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Capturing That Back-to-School Feeling

Tenessa Gemelke

Do you love back-to-school time? Of course you do, you adorable nerd!

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Upcoming Seminar: Writing for Websites

Kristina Halvorson

Want to learn what it takes to be a smart, successful web writer in 2009? Register for Kristina Halvorson's March 11 seminar, "Writing for Websites."

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Useful copy in the real world

Christine Benson

On the web or out in the world, clearly communicating your message is always important.

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How Nonprofits Can Profit From Content Strategy

Tenessa Gemelke

Think your nonprofit doesn’t have the time or resources for content strategy? Here are some small steps that can make a big difference.

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Warning: This is a Fake Warning!

Angie Halama

Don't fall victim to scareware this Halloween season.

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For the Dogs

Meghan Casey

Ever struggle with creating web content that gives your audience exactly what they want? We all do.

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Avoid This Common Error

Meghan Casey

Guess what? Error messages are content. That means they require the same attention as any other words on your site.

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Keep Your Content from Falling into Disrepair

Emily Folstad

Just like home ownership, great content requires owners who care. But how do you get content owners invested in making great content?

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Advice from the pros: Telling it like it is

Katie Dohman

You have less than four seconds to get your user the information he or she needs. GO!

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Are You Really Collaborating?

Christine Benson

Most people in the CS community agree on the need for collaboration, but are you sure that’s what you’re doing?

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Embrace Your Limits

Christine Benson

Don't get bogged down with what can't be done. Move past the problem and learn three ways to deal with project constraints.

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RSS in the Olden Days

Angie Halama

Back then, they had to do it all by hand.

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An intro to metadata and taxonomies

Christine Benson

Confused about metadata? Taxonomies? Think they’re one and the same? Get an initial understanding of what these terms mean, and how they relate to each other.

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Ask Yourself: Will Anyone Care About This Content?

Christine Benson

Will this information add to the experience? What if you just got rid of it?

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When You Know Your Content Is Bad

Tenessa Gemelke

Whether you’re in a decision-making position or not, it can be difficult to figure out how to use your powers for good to defeat bad content. Fear not! If you’ve been quietly suffering the knowledge—nay, the CERTAINTY—that your content stinks, here are a few ways to take steps in the right direction.

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Should You Complement Your Intranet With Knowledge From Employees?

Meghan Casey

Employee intranets have traditionally been owned and managed by technology, communications, or human resources. Today, there’s a trend toward employee intranets being owned by teams responsible for internal knowledge sharing or knowledge management.

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Don’t Put Content in your Users' Blind Spot

Angie King

Simply putting content on a page doesn't guarantee your users will find it.

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Brain Traffic Lands the Quad!

Melissa Rach

Watch out Evgeni Plushenko, Brain Traffic can land a quad. See our infographic describing the four key components of content strategy.

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Error, Error on the Wall …

Erin Anderson

When errors occur on websites, the consequences are (usually) fairly unremarkable. Too bad the alarmists who write the error messages still haven’t gotten the memo.

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No-poute routes: Ways to do content strategy on a budget

Melissa Rach

Small organization? Small budget? Don't get down in the mouth. A content strategy is still within reach. We'll show you how.

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Show Me the Content Strategy!

Julie Vollenweider

Asking to see a sample content strategy is a common request that’s often complex to address. But it’s not impossible.

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Every Doc(ument) Has Its Day

Jason Kleckner

Documentation rarely takes the spotlight. Much like good user experience, if it’s doing its job properly, you don’t even notice it.

Also like bad user experience, bad documentation will make the process painfully inefficient.

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Own Your Content. And Keep Grizzly Bears at Bay.

Clinton Forry

Without mindful ownership and all that goes with it, your content—and business goals–could be in serious danger.

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Alignment: The Secret to a Successful Content Strategy

Melissa Rach

Learn why alignment and collaboration are secret weapons in the fight for successful content strategies.

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Content Strategy and Social Media

Kristina Halvorson

Social media proponents tell us the only way to protect our brand integrity is to "join the conversation"—get out there and pay attention to what people are saying about your products and services … But let's back up for a minute.

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Anatomy of a web content document

Amy Wallace

Knowing how to format a web content document—or simply how to read it—is a crucial step in successful content creation.

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Content Strategy and Responsive Design

Sean Tubridy

Not quite sure what responsive design is? Get the skinny, and learn how it can impact your content.

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Workflow that flows

Christine Benson

A key to great content? Accurate planning, prioritization, and communication.

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How to Sell in Content Strategy

Kristina Halvorson

So many of us struggle to get buy-in for content strategy. What's the best way to convince your stakeholders it's really, truly important?

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Whoops! Cover Your Assets with Content Strategy

Emily Folstad

Content strategy can help you put your best face forward—and avoid embarrassing and potentially costly mistakes.

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By "Them" I Mean "Him" or "Her"

Angie Halama

Here's a transcript of a recent grammar conversation we had via an all-staff e-mail that was jumpstarted by Angie King (Angie 2.0). It includes such unrelated subjects as manbabies and Vitamin Water.

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Here Be Content

Melissa Rach

I have always liked the idea of medieval mapmakers using the phrase "Here Be Dragons" to denote unexplored or dangerous territories.  Sticking a fire-breathing reptile in documentation when you run out of facts? That's panache.

Unexplored and dangerous territories, indeed

These days, people aren't so stylish. When an information architect (or user experience designer) doesn't have the time (or the talent) to document content requirements, they stick a "page stack" on their site map.  It looks like this:

Don' t get me wrong: I'm cool with the stack if there is accompanying documentation that provides content details.  But when an information architect uses the stack in place of content requirements, they are leaving the client in unexplored and dangerous territories (without even a dragon to warn them).

A little dragon goes a long way

So, I have an idea. If you're a web professional doing information architecture and you're not documenting content requirements, stick a dragon on your site map instead of a page stack. This will be a nice heads up for your client and particularly fun for those of you who used to be designers.

If you're a client and you see a dragon on your site map, consider why your information architect is not worried about the information.  Then, call Brain Traffic.

P.S.: Unfortunately, that here-be-dragons bit is mostly a myth. Only one medieval artifact, the Lenox Globe

(ca. 1510), actually has the phrase "here be dragons" on it. Well, technically, there's also the Borgia map (ca. 1430), but it doesn't really say "here be dragons." It says (over a dragon-like figure), "Here are men who have large horns of the length of four feet, and there are even serpents so large, that they could eat an ox whole."  Put that on your site map.

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Content strategy is, in fact, the next big thing

Kristina Halvorson

In January of 2009, I started telling people that content strategy would be the next big focus for organizations worldwide. I even went so far as to say, “Content strategy will soon be getting more attention than social media.”

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Serial Killer: The Dissing of the Oxford Comma

Meghan Casey

Around the world, and at Brain Traffic, opinions vary about whether to use the controversial serial, or Oxford, comma. Most of us are right. Two of us are wrong.

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