Content strategy: Delivering structure to ambiguous things

by , under content strategy

I was recently asked during an interview for a UX job if I thought of myself as a person who likes structure or ambiguity more.

This struck me as odd. Not because it was a bad question. It was an excellent question. But I fumbled the answer. Maybe that was the point, yet it bothers me I could not offer a better answer. I said I like structure, but I deal with ambiguity on a daily basis. I need to work with both to survive.

That’s because in the content world, I thrive off of both structure and ambiguity. I make my living by delivering structure to ambiguous things — that’s content, in a nutshell. A colleague of mine gets the credit for making this clear to me: “we deliver structure to ambiguos things,” he repeats when it’s evidentĀ I am struggling with a pile of unstructured content. As editors and writers, our entire lives revolve around gathering pieces of information and turning them into something that makes sense as a whole.

That’s where creativity plays such an important role in content production. Every piece of content, whether it be data, a photo, a video, a quote, a fact, one word, etc., is part of a larger story which we need to put together for audiences. There is always a message to be delivered and the message may not be clear at first. But when structure is offered to a story and it is married with the appropriate design, great things can be accomplished.

This is what’s at the center of good content strategy. While we must deal with ambiguity as strategists and designers, we cannot fail the users by delivering ambiguity to them. The deliverable must take ambiguity and add structure to it so that it delivers a message, a story.

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