Brain Traffic Lands the Quad!

​Substance, structure, workflow, governance. Now there’s a recipe for content strategy success.

This post is by Melissa Rach​ and was originally published on the Brain Traffic blog in March 2011. We’ve made a few updates to bring it into 2017, but it truly is a classic. Enjoy.​

In the 2010 Winter Olympics, figure skater Evan Lysacek won the gold medal without a quad jump, much to the chagrin of the Russian favorite, Evgeni “The-KGB-stole-Steve-Perry’s-mullet-for-me” Plushenko.

Afterwards, Evgeni glowered and ranted. He briefly stood on the gold medal platform at the medals ceremony. His official website declared him the “platinum” medal winner. He made it clear that you need a quad to compete. Vladimir Putin agreed.

I don’t know about you, but we at Brain Traffic got the message. I mean, seriously, Evgeni and Vladimir are not guys you want mad at you. So, we got to work.

The content strategy quad

Our quad isn’t an ice-skating feat—it’s an infographic describing the critical components we consider in every content strategy.

content strategy quad

What it all means

At the center is the core content strategy, the approach you’ll take with your website, product, or service content to meet user needs and achieve your business goals. To achieve that strategy most effectively, we look at four closely-related components (the four areas of the quad):

Content-focused components

  • Substance: What kind of content do we need (topics, types, sources, etc.), and what messages does content need to communicate to our audience?
  • Structure: How is content prioritized, organized, formatted, and displayed? (Structure can include communication planning, IA, metadata, data modeling, linking strategies, etc.)

People-focused components

  • Workflow: What processes, tools, and human resources are required for content initiatives to launch successfully and maintain ongoing quality?
  • Governance: How are key decisions about content and content strategy made? How are changes initiated and communicated?

So far, it's getting high marks

Our quad will probably never be discussed by Dick Button and Scott Hamilton, but over the past several years it has received consistently high marks. The quad helps people quickly understand the complexity of content strategy and puts their content challenges into perspective.

Take it, use it, and let us know how it works for you. Go for the platinum!

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