Saturday, April 19, 2014

Career is a self drive

Career has lot of similarities with driving. 
  • Safety lies in pursuing change,
  • Strength is always found in resisting temptations,
  • Err is a detour to get back on track,
  • Milestones are only an indicator to achieve the next,
  • Navigators and Guides are partners to success and enjoyment.
  • Finding the power range is the key to enjoy the cruise and career,
  • Journeys are a pleasure when a sense of purpose is accomplished,
  • Tools to pursue the free spirit requires responsibility and following of basic rules
So how do we drive our careers forward? Looking forward to your insights. 

Hare and Tortoise Story - Tweaked for my kids to understand speed and practice

As kids, we probably took the "slow and steady wins the race" moral uncontested. For my kids, knowing they will turn the tables on me with lightning speed and thunderous effect, I required tweaks to the moral, that reinforces speed, practice, consistency, and focus, as success mantras for their activities. So here it goes:

1. Slow and Steady finishes the race.
2. Fast and Lazy loses the race.
3. Slow and Lazy doesn't wake up at all (this was completed by my daughter)
4. Fast and Steady Wins the race.

Couldn't this be why the tortoise finished the race and won because it was against a known loser (that particular hare).?

What if the Hare would have been steady and focused ? It would have won and tortoise would have finished the race. A win-win deal and demonstrates a sporting spirit of the race event. - Right ?

Friday, April 4, 2014

5 common mistakes during content strategy

Content is "King". Making the king affable requires careful selection, cohesion and showcase them in the best stage. Platforms, technologies, features, all service the content in the way a king would like to be served. The most important aspect of any content based project - be it  websites, collaboration mediums, knowledge management tools is to share the content in the most usable and likeable fashion for the users, it is meant to enable and assist.

Invariably across multiple projects within , the following 5 pitfalls are common and give a "Oh! yet again" feeling. These are so obvious that they skip the logic, analytical and focused and otherwise bright business minds from delivering a best in class experience.

1. Content consumption vs User Engagement
A content dissemination project is an experience. It needs to enhance or at the minimum sustain the expectations in every page and at every visit. Putting in processes and workflow to contain content, validate contributions, and determine a "Who s who" chart in a content rich environment is so common sense in the first round, but is very counter intuitive. Even a captive content dissemination requires users engagement, not consumption.

Consumption depletes and wears the content with age. A contributed and user engaged content shapes up to the needs of the audience and reaches far and wide, fresh every time. Make it easy to share, allow users to bookmark within your site and in the browser, make visible the stats, ask for feedback and importantly scan for usage pattern to bundle the content with likelihood siblings that users choose before and after the site visit.

Workflows can focus on moderation, add specialized services like taxonomy generation, proof reading and editing, ensuring content adequacy across multiple interaction points and pages, but must be very less towards routing for approvals and publishing.

Have at any time, your project has gone down because users were reckless in their contributions or have written nasty about the topics they care ? How many times after rejecting a first posting, the same users felt motivated to contribute more ?

Isn't this the reason why public facing sites become jaded after a couple of visits.

2. Research the audience before "context":
A user research typically classifies and categorizes the audience by age, ethnicity, race, region, religion, intelligence, etc, which is good for presentations but not much useful in final product success. When the final product isn't a success, will we blame that the audience types who accessed the site changed from what came out of research ?

A user research is to sample the intuition for the interactions a general user base can do at the minimum without an aid. Are instructions suitable ? Are the colors for a meaning or for differentiation ? Does the site behave well with custom style sheets ? Can the user be permitted to move across, up and down the site in a consistent way that can be explained by word of mouth to another user over a phone ? With a tool bar, when the site is translated, does it render well within the layout grids ?

A user research is to ensure the audience experiences based on their location and need in the site, just like in an audition. There is a general sensitivity required about the audience tastes and preferences and a better clue since in the content and web medium there is a direct interaction on the "stage" with the users.

The "context" is actually "open" in the web world and only the content requires definition of a context to drive its meaning and establish its brand in the web cacaphony.

3. Pitching wireframes and sequencing them as "Site Map":

Wire framing is a good concept. Site map is an essential first step. Both are different, though. Many a times, we do individual wireframes, thread them together to call as site map. Not a bad idea and an easy way to visualize.

It has just one flaw: We are enforcing conformity of page layout and page types (page design) to decide the site structure. Not creating a site structure to visualize the flow of "content" is a common mistake and will be a discussion point at some time in the content strategy meetings.

4. Adopting a "Template X" approach
This template suited a similar need in project x. Let us fast track it by fitting the content in the template. This is the main "break" factor. A new project or a client with similar needs exist because the earlier solution is not 100% compatible. Else in the age of Google, why take the pains to execute a content dissemination project ? Template X is for Project X. While in Project Y, leverage template X is acceptable, but ensure it suits the needs and never hesitate to go back to blank canvas.

This isn't a "product" which can be configured for multiple variants by choosing to mix n match or rip-off features  to match lower price points. This is content and a site structure, wireframe, design and development needs to match "content" and its relevance in "context" and never the other way around.

5. Missing the link between "copy writing" and "SME" collection

Never miss to create and follow a style guide. For the project team, it is boring and looks uniform. For the users it is consistent and sets the expectations.

6. It is "about" the users and "for" the users, not about and for content: This is the anti-climax. While all we do is to present content in a nice and great way, it is one and only about the users and User Experience. How many times in a content strategy discussion, is there a serious concern and involvement for users ?

Top Agile Blogs