Tag Archives: design

In Content Strategy, Your Customers are Users  


In the second post in this series, I outlined why your governance model, or the “How do I do this?” part of your content strategy, is a good place to start planning. Over the next 4 weeks of this series, we’ll go through a full content strategy, and this week we’ll tackle the most important person in the content strategy room: your customer or as you will come to call him or her: Your User.

Content Strategy and User Experience Design

This week I attended a User Experience Design Conference, and I was struck by something that is important to consider as we embark on this month’s installment of your content strategy road map.  As the speakers at the conference described projects they had been working on and case studies of both successes and failures, I was struck by how there has been a real renaissance in the world of business over the last few years.  Now, so many businesses are taking a Design-Thinking approach to business planning and strategy.  And the lines between designing a business strategy, a content strategy, and a website are becoming very blurry.

Traditional business planning has often started with the product or the brand.  Now more and more businesses are taking a very customer-centric approach and taking pages from Design Thinking as they start their planning and strategy with the customer, or as we say in Design Thinking, with “Empathy for the User”.

Understanding the cares, context, capabilities and captivating factors of your User are the building blocks of a great business plan, and a great content strategy.

What is a “User”?

I am going to use the word “User” and not customer as I proceed to describe how we identify who they are, and create messages for them, in our content strategy.  Why do I use the word User and not customer?

It used to be that when we said “User” we meant only those customers who were going to your website.  But in his Book “Users Not Customers”, Aaron Shapiro makes the point that nowadays, every customer is a User, and thinking about them as Users allows us to always remember that they are coming to us for their own reasons, not ours:

“Users are defined as anyone who interacts with a company through digital media and technology.  There are lots of different types of users, and while they each have their own distinct interests and objectives, they all want digital tools to easily and quickly give them a leg up”, Shapiro says, “Today, a customer must be thought of in a new way: as one segment of users, one of the many types of people who interact with your company through the digital version of your organisation.  And they all want digital technologies to make their lives easier and better.”

Users aren’t just browsing, shopping, surfing.  Users are seeking value, utility, and help.  When we develop a content strategy based on empathy for that User, we need to understand who they are in a three dimensional portrait that we call a persona.

Personas: Not Just Demographics

Personas are detailed portraits of your users: usually you choose at most 3 or 4.  Personas are both an art and a science to create, because they are based both on facts or what your know about your Users AND they come from your imagination.  In order to create this three dimensional portrait of your User(s), you need to understand who they are across these 4 areas:

Care: What do they care about?  What are their pain points? What matters to them the most and what are the minimum expectations you’ll need to meet for them?

Context: In what context will they be when they find your website or social media?  This is not only a question of what device they might be using (for example, they might find you while using their smartphone on a crowded streetcar, or at their desktop computer in a cubicle at work) but also what time of day, what is their mood, their situation?

Capabilities: What are their technological capabilities? Are there any physical constraints they might have that will impact on how they are able to interact with you online (for example, are they older and therefore will very small text be hard to read, or might they have physical tremors that would make hitting very small buttons difficult?  Are they colour blind, as many men are?)

Captivate: This is the most elusive, but possible the most important area of focus.  What will really surprise and delight them? What are their secret desires that, if tapped into, will bring them un-matchable value and engage them in a real trust relationship with you?

How do I get to know my Users?

You can find out a lot about your users by looking at the analytics on your website, market research your company may have done, by speaking to your sales staff, or by examining competitor sites to “reverse engineer” who they are speaking to.

But to take a page from Design Thinking, the best way to get to know your Users is through observation: getting out there and meeting people, asking them questions and listening carefully to the questions that they ask you.

Can you observe your users using a competing product or even better your product?  Watching someone navigate your website is often a harrowing and eye opening experience.

And listen to what they say: jot down quotes and use their words, base your content strategy on their questions and their language.

Persona Templates

Having personas developed is not only critical for the development of your content strategy, you need them if you are going to have anyone else writing product pages or emails, blogging, or engaging in social media communications on behalf of your company.  Have them memorise the personas, and post the personas at their desk so they are always aware of who they are speaking to!

Here are a few sources for templates you can use to build your personas:



The Analytical Engine Persona Template

Your personas can be detailed or brief, but the main thing is that they are, for you, real: you want to have a clear picture in your head, and on paper, of who this person or these people are, because one of the biggest lessons to learn from the school of Design Thinking is: you are not your user!  You don’t want to design your content strategy for yourself, you want to design it for your users, to deliver value to them, to speak to them, to meet their needs at their level, and if you’re lucky and skilled, to surprise, delight, and captivate, and convert!

For more resources and information on Content Strategy and to download a detailed description of what content strategy entails, go to analyticalengine.ca/resources or download a Content Strategy Info graphic at http://bit.ly/1qY9tYp.

Christine McGlade is a Business Analyst, Content Strategist, and Usability Consultant.  With over 25 years experience in the media business, Christine helps small business, social enterprise, and Not for Profits how to leverage the power of the Internet to grow their business.  Learn more about Christine at analyticalengine.ca

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BUSINESS IN THE FRONT, PARTY IN THE BACK: How to Organize a Booming Back Room


Is your storefront is a business fail in the front, but a big whopping party in the back?  It is most likely in need of some organization.  Your storefront is probably suffering from “back pain” because there is way too much going on in your back room.  It’s the kind of pain that is crippling your bottom line and driving away customers.  If this is the case, you should seriously consider getting the assistance of a professional organizer.

A common problem in retail environment is that 99% of the effort in setup goes into the design, layout, merchandising and window dressing of the store front. The Back Room (or store room) on the other hand, is far too often neglected and treated like the “red-headed-stepchild”– receiving no love but carrying the chores of housing all the excess merchandise, visual displays, company directives, and files, along with acting as a business office and lunchroom.

A well-organized backroom is essential to effectively ordering, processing, storing and transitioning merchandise into sales.  A well-organized backroom will turn your business into a well-oil machine with few aches and very little pain.   Your store’s backroom is basically the nerve-center of your operations, so it should receive as much or even more attention.  Too much time is wasted trying to find things.  Too much time is lost in unproductive hours resulting in a weakened bottom line.

Professional organizing services often cater specifically to independent and small businesses with a focus on areas of storage, function, process and flow.  Here are some tips and techniques that you should consider when organizing your backroom space:

  1. PLAN MAPPING—Create a plan of action by assessing the space usage, and dimensions. Design a floor plan that will maximize storage and accommodate the various types and sizes of items and boxes to be stored.  Think “seasonally”.   Store merchandise to move quickly and efficiently throughout the seasons and holidays.  Purge merchandise every 6-12 months.  Display a floor plan indicating the layout areas and inventory.  Orientate your staff with the layout.  Update as back room plans change.
  2.  SPACE STORAGE—Build space that adds flexibility with adjustable, movable fixtures to accommodate space as you need it.  Utilize wall space.  Build upwards, while keeping in mind your employees who may need certain items accessible.  Free standing shelving units as best back to back forming a center aisle in larger back rooms.  Identify if an item actually needs to be stored in the back room or whether the item needs to be stored off-site.
  3. PROCESS FLOW—Your back room should be organized to flow easily and efficiently.  The user-friendly backroom will allow incoming merchandise and paperwork.  Refine your paper process designating areas for filing and incoming invoicing etc. Ensure adequate open area for assembly, packaging and unpacking.  Discard unnecessary and excess packaging and paper right away or by end of day.  Create a listing of fast-moving merchandise and moving the items closer to the entranceway for easier access and shorter travel time.
  4. FUNCTION FLEXIBILITY—An essential element of organizing backroom space is functionality and flexibility.  The space should focus on distinct usage with a regulated flow and flexibility in movement as well as usage.  Clearly identifying and labelling areas will offer consistency and fluency in the space.  Incorporating solid storage capacities such as filing trays, locked cabinets, wire/plastic bins for loose items and dry goods.  Group like items together and by category.
  5. MEET GREET EAT—A store’s back room often serves as a meeting room, a business office and a kitchen.  The space should be a clean, organized space that is a welcoming host for staff quiet time, making phone calls, computer communication, vendor appointments, writing and manager/staff meetings.


A store’s Back Room needs to be a supporting partner in your small business.  It should help not hinder its growth or success.  Promoting a prideful space that is bright and energetic will motivate and boost morale among staff.  Decorate your Back Room with color, sales training postings and inspirational posters.

Remember that maintaining the back room is everyone’s responsibility.  As an owner delegate, assign and review tasks focusing on staff strengths.  An organized retail space can really be a big pay-off for your business providing an easy and stress-less environments.

Organized and booming, your store’s Back Room will be less of a clutter party with more business both in the front and the back.  Today is a good day to be ReallyOrganizedNow!

Rose Nixon, is Your “Anything” Organizer, Chief Professional Organizer and Principal Owner of ReallyOrganizedNow(RON), A Professional organizing company that brings Mindful Solutions for Stress-Less Living.  Rose knows that Life can be stressful enough without having the added burden of Disorganization.  Rose also knows that when you’re Organized you Smile more.  You are more pleasant to be around.  You enjoy people, places and things with greater ease, comfort and focus.  Rose helps active women and families find solutions and support to Stress-Less and Live More. She helps them BE ReallyOrganizedNow. Are you ReallyOrganizeNow?  Rose Nixon is the is an active volunteer in her community, offering support to several causes and organizations.  She is a business owner, aspiring blogger and author, and an ambassador of creative expression. 

Contact Rose on social media





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