Erin Kissane and Revelation

Recently as per usual I was reading though Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane and I must say … it is very interesting hearing her thoughts on how much information a person can reveal. While I’m not adverse to being coy about your projects one would think that you would desire a high degree of transparency between yourself and your client. As Kissane writes:

“Programmers rarely present raw code in client meetings. For every visual design comp or interface prototype that goes to the client (or manager), there are dozens or hundreds of cocktail-napkin and whiteboard sketches that no one outside the core team ever sees. In the same way, we should resist the temptation to show our clients everything we make.”

I thought this was rather interesting coming from someone so experienced with delivering the proper content to the proper users. Yet, I find myself disagreeing with her in large part due to the fact that sometimes it is good for your client to understand your creative thought process so that they will know how to interact with you better. Still, I guess if it’s a poker game then there is nothing wrong with holding your cards close to your chest and only revealing your hands when necessary to pull your flush to sweep the table.

However, what is another interesting topic is the “deliverables” Kissane discusses. We’ll talk about three today that she mentions of several: Community and Social StrategyTaxonomies, and User Scenarios. Lets take a moment to break each down.

Community and Social Strategy

While this is a fairly broad term I think it’s safe to say that at this point most people know what content management is. Specifically, being able to build communities that are thriving and specifically understanding the community basis of your website or whether or not the community would be deep and interactive or mostly aloof and not necessary. After all if people are heavily involved naturally that will develop commitment and with commitment comes communities and from communities natural social orders. But still, I think it would be a good idea not to just limit yourself to facebook, twitter, and instagram as the per usuals.


While Hierarchy may be the king of allowing your eye to focus on what is important and what is less noticeable Taxonomies are the kings of allowing people to be organized in their looking. It would be dreadful if things became free flow on the internet even more than it already is. After all a little bit of flow is necessary while a nice chunk is good for easing how a site flows. But too much and it becomes a mess and a complete frustration for the purpose or goals (unless it’s goal is to frustrate you). But as always keeping good Taxonomies when you are sorting your pages and content is crucial and a minor step that can’t be overlooked.

User Scenarios

While it may seem crazy planning out how a specific person might use and even navigate your website it is of utmost importance that you take to heart the message of user scenarios. It’s not like it necessarily has to be a doctoral dissertation but in short writing down the exact steps someone might do when they visit your website is good practice. It forces your to think like your enemy who is your audience and get inside they’re thought process possibly and understand how to get them on your site and use it. Not to mention also writing down what the person might be like might allow you to realize just exactly what you are missing as someone who isn’t you using your website. For example, after I make my products I first try them on my colleague designers. Then afterwards I do a real world test on my friends and people I meet who I then ask how they feel about it and what made them feel that way or why they reacted negatively. It allows me to get a double take on a subject by way of the devised and the natural.

Anyways those are all my thought this week on Erin Kissane’s little book. I might have more to come though so we’ll see where this goes.


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