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Using The Elements of Content Strategy to build curriculum

By Jessica Ivins

Using The Elements of Content Strategy to build curriculum

As I refine Center Centre’s Copywriting and Content Strategy course curriculum, I get the opportunity to review a lot of books, articles, videos, and podcasts about content strategy.

While reviewing books, I read Erin Kissane’s The Elements of Content Strategy. I look forward to using it with our students because it provides a thorough, accessible introduction to content strategy. At 79 pages, it’s also a quick read.

Erin explains how content strategy helps organizations meet the needs of their business and the needs of their audience. Content strategy helps organizations plan, create, and maintain useful content. It allows organizations to develop content publishing plans. It cuts costs by reducing redundant or extraneous publishing efforts.

Erin’s book talks about content strategy in the context of real-world UX projects. For example, Erin recommends finishing user research before you evaluate the quality of your site’s content. When you understand your users’ needs, you can assess how well your content meets those needs.

Erin’s holistic approach ties in nicely with our curriculum. As students learn about content strategy, they’ll connect the dots between content strategy and what they learned in user research. They’ll learn how one discipline integrates with and supports the other.

Erin Kissane’s article, “A Checklist for Content Work,” explores some of the topics in her book. If you enjoy this article, you’ll love the book.

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Do you want to learn more about content strategy and UX design? You’ll learn how to plan, create, and maintain your organization’s content as a Center Centre student. View our full program or apply today.

Defining user research at Center Centre

By Jessica Ivins

Defining user research at Center Centre

Have you ever tried to explain information architecture, interaction design, or user research to someone who doesn’t work in the UX field? If you have, you know that defining the things we do is a huge challenge.

Defining what we do isn’t just a challenge when talking to folks outside of the UX field. Experienced UX designers often struggle to define UX terms. How do we explain information architecture, interaction design, or content strategy in a way that’s concise but comprehensive? Where does one discipline end and another begin? How do we explain each unique discipline to someone who is learning UX design?

While developing coursework for User Research Practices, a course that introduces usability testing, user interviews, surveys, and field observations, I worked on Center Centre’s definition of user research.

This definition had to be clear, concise, and easy for anyone to understand. The more I tried to arrive at a definition, the more I felt stuck. So I asked our co-founder, Jared Spool, for help. I shared my working definition of user research with him:

User research reveals the needs and behaviors of our users. Understanding these needs and behaviors allows us to make informed design decisions that serve both our users and our business goals.

Jared built upon my definition and responded with this definition:

User Research is a set of tools and practices to help design teams understand who their users are, what they need, the contexts the team’s designs will live in, and unrealized opportunities for the organization.

At Center Centre, this is our definition of user research.

When students attend Center Centre, they’ll have a shared vocabulary for each UX topic they learn. When we work on projects and participate in classroom activities with a shared understanding, everyone—students, faculty members, industry experts, and partner company mentors—will be able to communicate effectively and efficiently. When a student or faculty member uses a term like “information architecture,” “interaction design,” or “user research,” everyone in the room will know what that term means.

Would you like to become a Center Centre student? Apply to Center Centre today. Do you know someone who would make a great student? Please tell them about us. We look forward to hearing from them.