We’ve heard that “content is king” for years. Curiously, the metaphor stands up extremely well, even when stretched, prodded, and otherwise abused. Here’s my take.
Content is King
Content rules all things. Food ingredients are the content objects that allow us to cook recipes. And online, content is what communicates products, services, and ideas. Content strategy, in many ways, represents the rational, left-brain view of things. It ensures all the needed content elements are available and that the messaging is on target. It defines the responsibilities for keeping the content fresh, it appoints those who will govern the process. And it helps architect the placement of these content elements to make them easy to locate. Content is king.
Understanding is Queen
But then there’s also the right-brain, intuitive side of things. If people don’t understand the content because it is confusing or inappropriate, then the King’s work is all for naught. Intuition represents the brain’s quality assurance department. Whereas our rational brain dots the “I”s and crosses the “T”s, intuition provides the ultimate proof-of-concept for the rational strategy. Long live the Queen!
Context is the Kingdom
The way in which content elements relate to one another is what differentiates, for example, information architecture from business strategy. Creating the links between related elements provides exceptional value. Contextually related elements, such as vacuum cleaners and the bags they use, and perhaps an extended service warranty for the machine, create a well-rounded, informative picture that keeps the King and Queen’s subjects (customers/consumers) happy.
Usability is the Jester
The Court Jester’s traditional task was to expose the King and Queen to inconvenient truths. Hopefully, this was done in a sufficiently neutral way so no heads rolled. Usability studies are very much like this, uncovering weaknesses in a product or system that had not been previously noted. Or weaknesses that everyone hoped would go unnoticed by the populace. Without pointing an accusatory finger, the Jester keeps it all real. And maybe does a magic trick or two along the way.
I’d be tempted to go on. But I wouldn’t want to beat “all the king’s horses” to death.
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