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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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Content Strategy Can Save Us All From Slobdom

Meghan Casey

Once on the fast-track to slobdom, this lady has become an organizer … of clothes and content. And I owe it all to content strategy.

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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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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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Your Web Content Is Out of (Your) Control

Kristina Halvorson

Most of us are still struggling with how to effectively plan, create, and manage content for our own company's website(s). Now we have to worry about social media, too.

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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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Content Strategy: More that a Bunch of Tactics

Kristina Halvorson

Content strategy isn’t a bunch of tactics. It’s a plan. Let’s talk about content strategy as a way of doing business, a way of looking at our content not as a commodity but as a valuable business asset, worthy of our strategic consideration.

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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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Know Your Context

Christine Anameier

We all know that you can’t create effective content without understanding your audience. But audience isn’t just about who—it’s also about when and why. (There’s also how, but that’s another blog post.) In other words, you need to understand the context for your content.

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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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5 Tips on Working with a Style Guide

Elizabeth Saloka

Don't let your style guide derail your sane train. Bone up on these tried-and-true tips.

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Workflow that flows

Christine Benson

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

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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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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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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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A Little Label Love Goes a Long Way

Christine Benson

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

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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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The "Queen" school of content strategy

Melissa Rach

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

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I Content Strategize, Therefore I Am

Melissa Rach

What’s the meaning of content? We’ll tell you what we think with the help of some drunken philosophers.

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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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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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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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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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When Words Fail

Tenessa Gemelke

What exactly are you trying to say? How unintended meaning undermines good content.

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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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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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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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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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Put a Lid on Canned Copy

Meghan Casey

Canned content is low on nutritional value.

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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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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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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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What should you study to become a content strategist?

Kristina Halvorson

What's a good postgraduate path that would lead to a career in content strategy? Find out what four leading content strategists have to say.

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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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You Have Problems

Kristina Halvorson

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

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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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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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Give Your CS Project Sponsors the Royal Treatment

Melissa Rach

It’s not “the wedding of the century,” but to your project sponsor, a content strategy project is a big— and often stressful—deal. So, show your sponsors some love.

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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 Can Help. Literally.

Christine Benson

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

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Let Me Be Clear: Take Time with Your Words

Erin Anderson

We agonize over stuff like error messages, links, and headlines every day. Here's why.

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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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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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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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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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"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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Lost in Translation

Katie Riddle

What you should consider before your content goes global

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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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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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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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Content Strategy Is Not User Experience

Erin Kissane

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

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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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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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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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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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CS is (Still) Not (Only) UX … and Why It Matters

Erin Kissane

UX is awesome. CS is wonderful. The fact that they don't perfectly overlap is a beautiful thing.

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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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Contact Us: Great and Gross Examples

Julie Vollenweider

A little TLC for online “contact” can make a huge difference in customer experience.

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Personal pronouns: It's okay to own your web copy

Angie King

If you want your users to feel connected to your brand, it’s important they know you stand behind your content.

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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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Web Writing Is a Risqué Business

Angie King

Let's all take a lesson from this dirty little mistake, and start writing exactly what we mean.

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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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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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RSS in the Olden Days

Angie Halama

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

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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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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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The Inside Job: Getting Started

Christine Benson

Initiating content strategy projects inside an organization can be daunting. Here are a few tips to kickstart the process.

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Be your own content expert

Amy Little

Want to create better web content? Take a lesson from someone who knows about good user experience—you.

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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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The Content Inventory is Your Friend

Kristina Halvorson

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

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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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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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News Flash: Social media won't fix your content problem

Kristina Halvorson

Promising social media widgets will make your corporate website relevant isn't just irresponsible. It's wrong.

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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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Email Etiquette: You are what you send.

Elizabeth Saloka

Email can be a tricky medium. Don’t let it trip you up—personally or professionally.

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Web writing for dummies, smarties, oldies and newbies

Elizabeth Saloka

Tack this handy list of web-writing techniques to your wall.

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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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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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This Just In: The New York Times is Way Smart!

Elizabeth Saloka

The best interactive graphics are the simplest. No bells and whistles, please.

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Cut!

Elizabeth Saloka

The first rule of good web writing is the first rule of all good writing: cut the fat. So, what should you do when the power of Victorian diction compels you?

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Bad Words

Erin Kissane

Consuming content isn’t the same thing as consuming cake. So how should we be talking about the ways in which people interact with our content?

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How to Listen

Erin Anderson

Our most important job here at Brain Traffic isn't information architecture. It isn't content creation, or even copywriting. Nope, it's good, old-fashioned listening.

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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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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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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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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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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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The Dirt on Editorial Calendars

Melissa Rach

Newsflash: This content strategy scoop did not require any phone hacking.

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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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Curation Nation

Kristina Halvorson

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

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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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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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What not to wear: A tale of content strategy

Tenessa Gemelke

Brain Traffic’s own Tenessa Gemelke is on What Not to Wear!

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