Unicorns and Universities: Bathcamp 31

This months Bathcamp was a corker (well I can only speak for the 2/3 I was there for but the Twitter buzz suggests the final talk was great as well.) Lisa put together a great agenda and the large crowd put pay to any thoughts that a night about ‘content’ wasn’t geeky enough for Bathcamp!

I admit I have felt that the term ‘content strategy’ is over-hyped and to some extent that its alot of disciplines that have been core to the web since the beginning being dressed up in a way that makes them more marketable. The actual bits that make up ‘CS’ are pretty much all things I believe in and listening to Relly and Rich really went a long way to making me put my issues aside and embrace as much as I can.

The evening was a great mix of learning about new ideas and hearing things that reinforced my belief in things I was already doing. Just a few of the things I loved in Rellys talk were;

– the idea of micro-copy being the conversation you are having with your users

– orphaning the occasional page from the navigation and see if anyone actually notices!

– limit talking about ‘CONTENT’ and talk about ‘pages’,’videos’, ‘pictures’ instead

– doing this stuff is not a one person job – it takes alot of people, with various skills and backgrounds to make it work

– I particularly liked the idea of ‘page tables’ [templates] – outlining the message, method, call to action of the page – its something I’ve been thinking about a while but failed to articulate

– produce propositions for everything! WHY do you need this page?

– if your content is going to help towards improving the organisation goals you need make the goals include improving user experience!

and a special mention to this idea

– everyone in content strategy making it up as they go along – some just making up a little less than others

[Relly is running an online course in content strategy – I think it is likely 99 quid well spent!]

Rich spoke about his experience trying to implement ‘content strategy’ type change as Ballmouth and Bath Unis. I particularly liked his idea of using the ideas around ‘content strategy’ as a way of framing the conversation with stakeholders and his acknowledgement he needed to get buy-in from senior staff as well as the people doing the work on the ground floor. This is something I’ve become more and more aware of – the ‘ask for forgiveness not permission’ technique inevitably stalls – at least in .ac.uk land!

Also when he spoke about the new site not just being an opportunity to copy and paste the old content into a new system I could have cheered (see my last post!)

Also a light-bulb moment for me was the idea that the staff who moan about the site the most are probably the most passionate so if you can win them over you have powerful allies. I actually started to actively plan this into some work I am doing over the summer today.

The big take home in Richs talk though was to ensure good content you need to ensure organisational change – get people from the top to bottom to think in a different way and to take what they publish online seriously.

The one thing I didn’t agree with was the take Rich had on content management systems – much to Mikes disgust though I decided not to enter the fray! Safe to say I don’t think ‘in-context’, WYSIWYG, distributed authoring is the best way forward these days 🙂

It was a brilliant, though-provoking evening that had we immediately revisiting my own plans and set my brain buzzing with new ideas. Can’t ask for much more than that. Plus the noodles were lovely as well!


3 responses to “Unicorns and Universities: Bathcamp 31”

  1. Ballmouth University?? Sounds like a Lovehoney training establishment. I think Rich was at Bournemouth University.

  2. Fairplay – didn’t get the ref 🙂 BTW – thanks for a great summarisation of what was a really good night.

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