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Bringing it All Together – Core page Matrix, Sitemap and Wireframes
Freepik.com Mockup with homepage wireframe screenshot inserted, https://www.freepik.com/index.php?goto=74&idfoto=3190483&term=laptop%20mockup [15]
Below you will find a document that contains our proposed content matrix, sitemap, and wireframes for The City of Calabasas. The design recommendations in the documentation are influenced by the content strategy research we performed prior to creating the design recommendations in the document.

The content matrix in the documentation below was created after our content strategy alignment summary was established. Its purpose is to align the structure of The City of Calabasas website to their business goals and objectives. By using the business goals and key performance indicators we were able to prioritize the importance of The City of Calabasas’s content objects.

The sitemap included serves as a blueprint of The City of Calabasas’s entire website. The sitemap builds out a new information hierarchy for The City of Calabasas. It was important that we referenced The City of Calabasas’s business goals to ensure we conveyed and included all of their important content. Together we researched The City of Calabasas’s current information architecture to determine what they should keep, remove, move up higher in their content hierarchy or lower. Our detailed notes included a list format, an approach the Webflow blog recommended to simplify the way we convey the hierarchy of a website.

After our sitemap for The City of Calabasas was created we were ready to begin the wireframes of The City of Calabasas’s homepage and internal pages. It is evident that The City of Calabasas needed a simplified structure that allowed their users to access what they were looking for in 2 or fewer clicks. To do this we made sure important components were above the fold (features content, search, top services) on their homepage. While the sitemap serves as a blueprint of The City of Calabasas’s entire website the wireframes we created represent the blueprint for a single page (or group of pages). This will allow The City of Calabasas’s team to see how individual pages within a website will flow and function.

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Online Marketing and Strategy: The Good, the Bad and the Ethics
[8] Pexels free Google Marketing Laptop photo, https://www.pexels.com/photo/light-smartphone-macbook-mockup-67112/

Content strategy and marketing is incredibly important to any company or business looking to improve their Google rankings. With advancements in technology and growth of search engine optimization practices within the last decade, there is an abundance of resources available. However, to what extent can you push the bar of the search engine optimization performed on your website? What is considered good SEO and at what point do your practices become unethical? In this blog post, I will provide examples to ethical and unethical SEO and online marketing practices. I will also share my own marketing practices and examples.

What are Black Hat and White Hat SEO tactics?

Before I get into what content marketing and strategy trends are considered ethical and unethical, it is important to understand what black hat and white hat SEO tactics are. Black hat search engine optimization (SEO) techniques involve using practices that are against or inconsistent with Google’s search engines’ guidelines. Such as hidden text, cloaking, spamdexing, blog comment spam, list links etc. [3] White hat SEO tactics are the opposite of Black Hat tactics. White hat SEO techniques provide users with quality content that is accurate, relevant, and well-organized. They are consistent with Google’s search engine s’ guidelines. Some examples of white hat SEO tactics are using relevant keywords in the title tag, h1 tag, and anchor text of inbound and internal links. If used correctly they will increase the reliability of your brand.[3, Par. 4-15]

Now let’s get into a specific white hat and black hat SEO tactics so you can decipher the difference.
[10] 5 Tactics White Hat SEOs Can Learn From Black Hat SEOs

The Good (White Hat)

It is evident in the marketing world that controversy sells content. Influence Agents states, meaningful controversy means going all out with your opinions, and leaving it all out on the table. [1] They recommend using a headline for an article of yours as an opinion. This will increase your the engagement, audience, and clicks. However, if you want to stay aligned with the ‘good’ and your businesses mission it is important to not take a skewed view. Getting caught out by your customers is not fun or good for the reputation of your brand. Especially, if you are pushing the bar too high with false or irrelevant content.

The content you provide to your customers offline and online often needs to get people talking to get big results. Kelsey Libert recommends creating content that will create emotional reactions with your audience. [2,  Par. 4] Playing it too safe with your content, will make it difficult to grab the attention of your users and ignite an emotional response which is important to drive social sharing. Ultimately, you want to attract the attention needed to earn high-quality links.

 

How to Rank Without Breaking the Rules

Using ethical marketing tactics such as creating controversial content or triggering emotional responses can often result in being shut down by your boss or client even before it launches live. Kelsey Libert, recommends balancing a sensitive topic while minimizing its potential risk. [2, Par.7] This way you can protect your brand from bad press and backlash from your users. Meghan Casey recommends having a reviewer to make notes about whether your information is accurate and complete.[4, Pg. 198] Personally, I always like to keep my Brand’s mission in the back of my head when content strategizing. This way I can do a self-check with myself before performing something unethical that would hurt my company.

 

Here are a few good content marketing and SEO practices you can consider introducing to your business or company without breaking the rules:

  • Use an article headline as an opinion
  • Perform A/B tests to find what works best
  • Create emotional content
  • I like to use Google Keyword Planner to discover the popular monthly search volume of specific keywords and phrases.
  • Use social media marketing and advertising to expand the reach of your content, increasing its potential to earn links and social signals. For my personal design work, I like to outreach and explore opportunities in getting my content published on other related websites.
  • Remember “Don’t create content for content’s sake,” Rebecca Sentance mentions this in a great article over at Search Engine Watch. In other words, quit writing posts for the same keyword target every month.[13, Par 14]

Contently recommends the following content marketing Code of Ethics:

  • Expose the truth as fully as possible
  • Adhere to journalism’s core values of honesty, integrity, accountability, and responsibility. [9, Par. 5]
  • Minimize potential harm to sources or subjects of stories
  • Acknowledge facts that may compromise the integrity of a story or opinion
  • Always credit sources
  • Fulfill promises made to contributors and sources in the course of reporting.

It is important to recognize that journalists and content strategists have different goals. In exchange their marketing code of ethics is different. I would recommend taking a look at Contently’s code of ethics. They do a great job specifying how you can successfully distribute your content without performing anything unethical.

[12] Benefits of A/B Testing - https://leadtoconversion.com/blog/6-benefits-split-testing-headlines/

At Verizon, I currently work on the Communication team. Prior to working on Verizon’s Communication team, I worked on Verizon’s Personalization team. On Verizon’s Personalization team I worked closely with developers, analytics and test facilitators on the user interface and experience on verizon.com. Together we performed A/B tests to collect user research that helped us to optimize our website. A/B testing (sometimes called split testing) is comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. From experience, I have found that A/B tests are a fantastic way to learn about your customers in an ethical fashion. By simply adjusting our messaging, imagery and user experience we were able to learn as a team how we can make improvements to our website. A/B testing is also a fantastic way to increase your conversion rate optimization.[12,  Par. 1] By identifying your user’s needs you can serve them the best experience on the web.

[11]

The Bad (Black Hat)

This section is called ‘The Bad (Black Hat) because the practices I am about to discuss go against Google’s search engines’ guidelines and web design best practices. Currently, thousands of companies around the world are using a number of these tactics. However, they are not recommended to practice in your personal or professional career. Often times black hat SEO tactics and unethical content marketing practices will hurt your company than help.

 

Here are several black hat SEO tactics that I do not recommend:
  • Using fake headlines to drive traffic
  • Unrelated key-terms
  • Link buying
  • Hidden/Invisible text
  • Article spamming
  • List links
[12] Tech Web Space - https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.techwebspace.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2018%2F06%2FBlack-Hat-SEO

Providing Accurate Content is so Important

As a Verizon employee, it is extremely important for us to be loyal to our customers and to persistently represent our mission. Performing any black hat SEO tactics can greatly impact our rankings and reliability. Having a legal reviewer on your team to make sure the content will not get your company in trouble with the law is essential.[4, Pg. 197] At Verizon, we strive to deliver the best experience for our prospects and customers. Unlike the black hat tactics listed above, we persuade our users more ethically. By double checking our sources, being honest, transparent and not actively contributing to this problem contributes to our success.

 

When Click-bate Strikes

September 12th, 2018, marked Apple’s first Worldwide Developers Conference hosted at Steve Jobs Theater in New York City. Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference formally known as WWDC is a global event held annually by Apple.[14] This is where Apple releases their newest technology advancements and devices publicly. I am a techie at heart, so I always enjoy following Apple’s public press before the event. This way I can try to scope out the specs on their new device prior to their release.

Although I can suspect a new device will be rolling out, there are no announcements directly from Apple prior to the WWDC indicating anything about their new device. Most of what I find out is based on leaks on the web or word of mouth. From personal experience, I have found there are a number of businesses that use unethical content marketing practices, prior to Apple’s event. It is worth noting that a number of these fake Apple news sites actually look like legitimate news sites.[5, Par. 10] They use their professional look and click-bate headlines to lure you in while convincing you their news is real.

During this exploration, I found that the Apple social media leaks generated more conversations than the online publications leaks. The social media posts had a remarkably higher number of shares and comments than the online publications. While the majority of the online publications had no comments. It was evident that the companies that had the most impressions were using unethical practices, such as click-bate to lure their traffic in.

Keep Expanding your Knowledge

It is extremely important to know what white hat and black hat SEO tactics are as a content strategist. With the advancements of Google’s search engine and technology, it is often times easy to fall into a trap into doing something unethical (Black hat). By pushing your brand with ethical (White hat) SEO tactics you will increase the reliability of your brand and create an endless stream of content that is accurate. Always remember to keep your Brand’s mission close to you to serve the best experience for your users.
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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Aligning and Strategizing Case Study
[10, 4] Mockup from with RBGE homepage screenshot
Updated: November 21, 2018

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh also known as RBGE is a world-renowned centre for plant science, horticulture and education. Being a sophisticated resource, it is also a multi-channel experience, that goes beyond standard online touch points. In this blog post you will learn how I have aligned Bernard Marr and Co.’s strategy with business goals and KPIs for RBGE to unify their entire organization’s strategy.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), is a world-renowned centre for plant science, horticulture and education.[1] RBGE was founded in the 17th century and today extends over four Gardens located in Scotland (Edinburgh, BenmoreDawyck and Logan). The largest garden of the four is Benmore. Benmore extends 120 acres and features a world-famous collection of plants from the Orient and the Himalaya to North and South America.[2]

Being a sophisticated resource, it is also a multi-channel experience going beyond standard online and offline touch points. What is unique about the RBGE is that it features a number of profitable products, services and commodities. These products, services and commodities include filming, photography media, commercial photo requests, exhibitions, interactive experiences, events, activities, professional courses and education.[1]

The RBGE wanted to establish a framework for executing its strategy  and delivering its mission, “Explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future”. However, after thoroughly analyzing Bernard Marr and Co.’s wholistic strategy found that RBGE and the Scottish Government’s business units were not in alignment with their strategy. This content strategy case study aligns Bernard Marr and Co.’s strategies with practical business goals and KPIs for RBGE’s to hit their Scottish Governments National objectives.

*Envisioning an open-ended project within a restricted timeframe required me to make some assumptions along the way in order to limit the scope, maximize my focus and deliver on time.
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Understanding the difference of Content Creation, Marketing and Strategy
Tablet and laptop browsing on couch. Free Stock photo on Pixels. [9]

To better understand the differences and similarities of content creation, strategy and marketing it is important to comprehend how each of these disciplines work individually and fundamentally to fully understand how they support each other.

What is Content Creation?

Content is being created everywhere around us. To understand how content creation can help your company starts with understanding what it means. Content creation is the process of creating digital media for a specific end-user/audience.[3, Par. 1] This can range anywhere from images to websites for a business, article images, messaging, infographics, blogs or social media content and channels. A Pew’s Research Center identified a broad and encompassing definition of “content creation”. In a recent survey they conducted they found that 53 million people (American Internet users) refer to content creation as, contributing material to the online world. Content creation in their definition includes creating a Web site, posting material to another Web site for work, family or another organization, posting materials to a personal or another person’s Weblog or online diary. They also refer to it as posting photos, artwork, writing, or audio and video files to the World Wide Web, to a chat room or discussion or newsgroup or to a central server for sharing with others. [6, Par. 2]

Creating great content starts with a well-established process. Content creation begins by understanding your business.[1, Pg. 65] Meghan Casey, shares a great example involving a defensive client she worked with to amplify the importance of understanding your business before getting started in her book “Content Strategy Toolkit”. During a client stakeholder interview, Meghan asked the question “How do you decide what products to offer?”. The response she received was, “Why do you need to know that if you’re just helping us with our content?”[1, Pg. 65] The client was genuinely confused about the overall process which drives content creation, marketing, and strategy together like an efficiently working machine. It is evident that you are more likely to recommend solutions that do not help the company achieve its business goals if you do not start from the beginning of the process.[1, Pg. 66] 

Lung Cancer Landing Page - Example of Meghan Casey's Inward Paths Recommendation [1, Pg 173]

Meghan Casey recommends to map out inward paths instead of jumping into content creation. By looking at your user research findings it can help you make informed decisions on your content. This will allow your client to think about your detailed page from the user’s perspective.[1, Pg 173] In the lung cancer image above the inward paths include, doing a browser search for lung cancer, a browser search for symptoms, clicking a link on the homepage and finding a link in a printed brochure.

Marketing and Strategy

Learning to target the right audience for your content is extremely important when it comes to content marketing and content strategy. Meghan Casey states that convincing businesses to spend money on audience and user research is very difficult.[1, Pg. 79] However, your individual marketing efforts and overall content strategy will push your content to the top of the pack.

So what is the difference between content marketing and strategy? It is important to understand that content marketing is a piece of an overall content strategy. Each piece of content you create will need a plan to reach the right audience in the correct context with the right content. Content strategy on the other hand is all-inclusive. It is the wholistic strategy of your company or business.[7, Par. 4]

Marketing allows you to attract and build an audience. Even the best content will die if it is not presented to your audience properly. There is sales content, customer-service content, event content, employee-generated content, product content, marketing and campaign content.[5, Par. 6] Content marketers know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to their discipline. They know which “go-to” tools to use to reach a very specific audience they want to reach with their content. By following the latest marketing trends, distributing valuable and also relevant content they can reach the right audience for a specific piece of content they want to market.

Accessing your clients and stake holders appetite. [1, Pg 86]

Meghan Casey uses the term ‘appetite’ to describe the user research assessment level of her client’s and stakeholders’. By assessing the appetite of your client’s or stakeholders’ you can get a better grasp of their overall confidence in what they assume or know. The image above compares and contrasts Meghan Casey’s client’s confidence level and tolerance. [1, Pg 86]

Function refers to a functional unit within an organization, such as marketing, sales, communications, customer service, or human resources.[1, Pg. 136]

Content Strategy

Content strategy is a strategic marketing approach focused on the wholistic means to attract and retain a defined audience to drive profitable customer action.[7, Par. 1-16] SEJ Search Engine Journal refers to the content strategy to a business like a blueprint that lays out how its onsite and offsite content will be used to accomplish business goals.[7, Par. 16]

SEJ Search Engine suggests that a good content strategy answers any and all content usage questions below

  • Why should the content be published?
  • Where are we going to publish this content?
  • When should we roll out this content?
  • Who do we want to see it?
  • What reactions are we hoping to receive from the content?
  • What do we want to do with the content after we publish it?

Similar to content creation where we asked ourselves “How do you decide what products to offer?”, before digging into any marketing tools we should be asking ourselves “Is there a market for our product or service and how much would people pay for it?”.[1, Pg. 80] This is one of many questions Meghan Casey defines as marketing research. With market research you can tell whether people in the world, country, state, city or neighborhood want to buy your current (or planned) products.

Having a solid content strategy before publishing content is a necessity for any small or large business looking to maximize their reach online and offline. Making sure your content strategy foundation includes a well thought out plan will is crucial to the success of your business or company. This includes staying on top of the latest marketing, SEO and content creation trends to keep your business relevant and stay on track to reach your targeted audience.

Meticulous planning will enable everything a user does to appear spontaneous.” – Mark Caine

Laptop with chart strategy. Free Stock photo on Pixels. [8]
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Case Study Report – “I Have a Dream” Foundation
[10] Free Stock Image from MacupWorld with "I Have a Dream" Screenshot

Summary:

“I Have a Dream” Foundation is a nonprofit organization helping to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by providing long-term support to students.  The nonprofit and their website was founded in 1981 by Eugene Lang.[2] Its aim is to motivate and empower children from low-income communities to reach their education and career goals by providing a long-term program by mentoring, tutoring and enrichment, along with tuition assistance for higher education.[2] This organization aims to lessen high school drop out rates by providing educational opportunities, recreational programs.[5]

It is clear “I Have a Dream” Foundation  is proud to provide high-quality support, and required a website and educational marketing services to match this level of service. In 2018 they refreshed their brand.[3] It is evident that their brand refresh made their website look more appealing on the outside. However, after conducting a web analysis on their website, a competitive analysis on their competitors and accessed their social media practices I have identified a number of SEO and content strategy improvements “I Have a Dream” Foundation can make.

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Diana’s Animals – Content Strategy
Updated: November 1, 2018 

Diana’s Animals – Content Strategy

What is my content?

My low polygon animals combine my love for animals, technology, and my passion for design. When my low polygon animals started to take on a personality of their own, I was hooked. Furthermore, I wanted to share their content with the digital world effectively.

I started my low polygon collection and website dianasanimals.com in June 2015. My animals and I are actively working away creating new content everyday and excited to celebrate our 4-year-old Birthday. So, far I have completed 114 animals. The goal of the collection is to expand to 400 species. #Exhibit400 On dianasanimals.com I sell products with my animals on them and manage a blog post discussing the creative process to design them. I support the content on my e-commerce site with posts of my work on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. When I started using the social media accounts regularly I recognized how important content strategy was to expose my artwork and story effectively.

Is it digital, physical, or both?

Diana’s Animals consists of both digital and physical content. While I promote my artwork digitally on, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to increase brand awareness I also sell physical content. By exposing my digital artwork on these social media accounts I can drive traffic to my e-commerce site to sell physical products of my animals. Many people who follow my artwork on Instagram, tend to also be interested I purchasing physical and digital content of my work.

How I approach my content:

All of my animals start with a sketch on paper or on my iPad mini with Adobe Draw. Prior to diving into the sketch, I like to do a little research on the animal I choose. By referencing images and videos I can combine the best of their features in my sketch. I strive to bring as much personality as I can. Some of the animals that require more detail can create some challenges, but I don’t mind them because it just pushes me to overcome these challenges and learn from them. Most of my inspiration is found watching Discovery Channel, surfing online wildlife photography, and skimming through National Geographic magazines.

After my sketch is complete I will then bring it into Adobe Illustrator to vector. It’s important to understand the anatomy of the animal during this step. Once the vector is complete, I’ll then bring it into Photoshop to color, add textures, and design minimal shadows under the animal. During this process, my goal is to keep the colors and shapes as simplistic as possible without losing the animal’s realistic features.

Once my low poly animal is complete, I will create a rough draft of the content I will share on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Each social media platform requires specific content, due to the character limit they require, image size and overall best practices on their social media platform. With trial and error I have found that including an interesting fact about the animal has been the most successful. The animal facts help drive a narrative while keeping it interesting fir my users. The facts I include with my animals not only educate my users, but also intrigue the users to interact with the post. Communicated with my followers will create a feeling of community. Social Media Today suggests using physical products in your posts to connect to online products, creating Facebook Groups and create in-person meet-ups and events.[1, Par. 8]

How do I decide what content to keep and what to discard?

The more detailed sketches can create some challenges, but I don’t mind because it just pushes me to overcome these challenges and learn from them. I rarely discard my work. When I am not satisfied with my work I will put it aside to come back to. Fresh eyes tend to do the trick for me. I usually end up reiterating the work I do not like, to create something completely different from it rather than discarding it.

How do I organize my content so I can find something?

Organization is key to any business or in this case e-commerce site. Especially, those that personalize products to their users based off previous content. This is something I tend to do often which I have found is very important to consider when creating my low polygon animals. By having a good handle on your content you will not only know where everything is and belongs, but furthermore reduce the amount of time spent on a project. In Meghan Casey’s book she talked about the importance of increasing efficiency to drive profit. Since I am a one man team, this is such a crucial fact to keep in mind while executing my work and communicating with my customers. Time can sometimes mean money lost than made.

Am I a content hoarder?

I like to not consider myself a ‘content hoarder’, however when it comes down to it I hold onto old content and archive old content for my low polygon animals on dianasanimals.com and professional content at Verizon. Lets face it the word ‘content hoarder’ sounds like a negative word. Unless, ‘hoarding content’ is defined as holding on to old irrelevant content, hoarding your old work can help you in more than one way if used correctly. It is important to hoard old content because, you never truly know when you might need to reference old content, leverage old content or even republish old content (after updating it with relevant content if necessary).

At Verizon I currently work on Verizon’s corporate Communications team. We are responsible for distributing news and brand awareness across verizon.com as well as our social handles. Sometimes we need to update old content with new information since our old content can sometimes have a significant amount of users driving to it. Especially, on our Verizon timeline landing page. This is where we move important old articles that pertain to the history of Verizon. You would be surprised how well some of our articles are preforming dated decades ago. Sometimes the content you hoard can be very valuable on the web in this case.

Do I have a strategy to manage my content?

Currently, I am experimenting with a few different strategies to increase the exposure of my artwork and website, dianasanimals.com.  I plan on pushing the bar of Diana’s Animals content strategy to establish a diverse community. I would like to explore Social Media Today’s 2018 trends, such as testing social media ads and use my Facebook group connect with my audience directly to reach these users.[2, Par. 18] Like Meghan Casey says, by setting and aligning on a project objectives so you can get started doing awesome content things. [1, Pg 34]

Here’s a little about me.

I was born and raised in Denville, New Jersey. My father is a computer science professional, so I have been exposed to art and technology at a very young age. My grandmother is a talented fine art painter; a dedicated artist who works long hours. Having the opportunity to attend many of her grandmother’s art shows gave me an initial interest in art.

Currently I am a UX manager on Verizon’s corporate communications team. I have worked on numerous innovative projects and have been responsible for many of the visual elements on the Verizon’s website. Some of my assignments have included homepage marquees, landing pages, UI concepts, UI redesigns, and lead designer for many of Verizon’s campaigns and device launches.

I graduate from Marywood University with a BFA in Graphic Design and a minor in Multimedia. During my time at Marywood I was a four year member of Marywood’s cross country varsity team and a three year starter for the lacrosse team. Recently I earned a Mini Masters User Experience Certification from Rutgers. In 2014, I successfully completed a Web Master’s Certification from the County College of Morris. Currently, I am attending Quinnipiac University to pursue my Masters degree in Interactive Media and Communication. What I like most about my career is staying on top of the forever changing edge of technology. I am always looking to learn something new.

When I am not sitting at my desk designing, you can find me releasing energy in any physical activity. I love the outdoors, being around people, spending time with my dog and competing in 5k races for charities. I contribute my positive and energetic personality from eating healthy and staying fit. I find that most creative ideas are found on my daily runs. My past involvement in sports has taught me the importance of time management, discipline, and perseverance; qualities that every designer should possess.

Design is an interesting word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. – Steve Jobs

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Content Strategy Toolkit
Updated – November 6th, 2018 

It is critical to the success of your organization to make sure your content is up to date and follows the latest user experience practices and methods. Meghan Casey’s book, “The Content Strategy Toolkit” covers the step by step approaches and methodologies to achieve successful content strategy. Casey covers the planning process of managing content throughout its lifecycle, aligning content to business goals, analysis, modeling, development, production, presentation, evaluation, measurement, sunsetting of content and governance. She explains that content strategy is not the ‘implementation side’ (the actual content development, management, and delivery) they are the tactical outcomes of the strategy that need to be carried out for the strategy to be effective.[1]

Before jumping into a project it is first important to uncover the problems before you can begin to fix them. Meghan Casey discusses the importance of translating your problems to business opportunities in Chapter One. With problems come a decrease in productivity and profit she explains.

Creating a budget, buy-in and preparing for success before starting a project is extremely important.

Here are a three reasons you may want to create a content strategy.

Reasons:

  • Redesign
  • Migration CMS or Domain
  • Comparable for other devices
  • Overall content needs improvements

Next you will want to create a hypothesis as Meghan Casey puts it as a ‘scientist’. Hypothesis are important, because it will teach you what you want to learn about your content. Once you settle on a hypothesis you can then chose a method. Your method will ultimately prove or disproves your hypothesis.

[1, (Introduction) Pg. 412] This chart provides an example of an audit criteria matrix.

Here are some of the methods Meghan Casey covers as well as some other experts in the field recommend:

Content Audit – (hire content strategist) look for things you can evaluate objectively: what the content is for intended purpose for content / helps explain to client objectives of content strategy / Audit criteria matrix

Analytics Review – Page views, traffic user paths through content

User Testing – Actual users (Subjectivity to your assessment)

Now once you picked your method you can be specific about what to measure and how to do the measuring. For each method you will want to prove or disprove your hypothesis / gather findings. (May be able to reuse for scorecard)

Analytics – Decide what questions you want to answer first before jumping in to data. Create column in audit matrix for what pages were viewed most / Google Analytics

User Testing – Specify what you want to learn and how you will want to get the answers. How does the user feel? / What words would the user use to describe your organization after reading your content. / How well do they comprehend your material? / Can the user find key material?

Image of Meghan Casey’s book. [2]

It is important to not forget that the problems your users are encountering are stemming from people. Meghan Casey reminds us to always consider people and process when executing your method.

Now you can answer these questions:

  • Who is involved?
  • How much time do these people contribute?
  • How long does it take to publish new content?
  • How much content do you publish daily weekly monthly?
  • How so you decide what content of publish?
  • What are the pain points related to your content?

During this process you will want to document he people and processes for now. By turning the problems your users are experiencing into opportunities after answering these questions will drive you in the right direction.

Meghan Casey uses a number of charts to represent her processes. During this step she recommends summarizing the problems and opportunities you discover in a chart. When it is time to write your opportunity statement it is crucial you make sure it include desired and result. (Ex – boss wants more conversions) Once you have turned problems into opportunities now you will need to convince people in charge that your organization needs content strategy.

[1, Pg. 10] You will want to think about the people, their jobs and their behavior during your project.

By creating a business case you can then begin to show why your project is worth prioritizing. Convincing leaders to get the resources you need is extremely essential to the success of your project.

Your case for content strategy must be based on risk and reward, just like a business person would promote.

Answer these questions:

  • Increase efficiency?
  • Decrease costs?
  • Boost revenue?

Next you will want to provide an example to quantify missed opportunities.

Business case example: 

If today we do XXXXX we will make $XXXXX, because we did XXXX.

Next estimate what it will cost to fix the problem, 

*Wow!* We will make $XXXXX in XX days/months/years by doing XXXXX.

By calculating the risks with math you can show how much your companies profit will increase over time due to your project. Meghan Casey says this is the most important factor when asking for resources and budget. Since cost relates to your organizations change, you will want to think about the people, their jobs and their behavior.

Business goals = Reaching = Efficiency

Meghan Casey tells us to be up front about necessary changes to our teams behavior when in discussion. She shares with us Toulmin’s argument model to explain how we might want to consider constructing your argument.

[1, Pg. 20] Toulmin’s Argument Model

Here are some key-terms we learned:

Claim – Statement you are asking someone to accept

Grounds – Data and facts that support the claim

Warrant – The main reason why the data is relevant to the claim

Backing – Information that supports the warrant is based on analysis of employees

Qualifier – Suggest the likely hood that the data supports the warrant by referencing experts

Rebuttal – Likely challenge to the claim will be about budget. Layout budget and risks.

The ask – The specifics

At the end of chapters we were assigned this module we learn the importance of getting the right SH involved with our project. We must align them on what the project should achieve.

[1, Pg. 30] Stakeholder Matrix Example

Roles:

  • Project Owner
  • Decision makers
  • Champions
  • Influencers
  • Derailers

Types:

  • Strategic
  • Expert
  • Implementer
  • User Proxy – experience related to your targeted audiences

Now you can make a list of departments to fill in the roles and types. (Ex: Marketing)

After you Develop your team’s architecture you can begin to craft your approach with them. Meghan Casey recommends conducting interviews and workshops (Strategic, Content Ecosystems analysis – understanding of things, tactical).

Chapter 4 discussed the importance of aligning on your projects objectives. Setting the table up is key for preparation. Getting the the right people involved and organizing your interview or workshop will allow you to align your projects to their objectives.

Use techniques to curve discussion:

  • Paraphrasing
  • Drawing people out
  • Conversation tracking
  • Silence
  • Understanding consensus

After, planning, preparing and executing your objectives Chapter five concludes the importance of checking in with your team and scheduling weekly team meetings. This will keep everyone on the same page and improve the content associated with your organization.

[1, Pg. 59] Email example to discuss next key milestone.

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Still Relevant – Content Strategy History
Google Trends 'Content Strategy' Search Term Results
Updated: November 6, 2018

Many people would argue that content strategy is a revolution, changing more or less sudden. However, if you take a step back and look at the entire history of content marketing you will recognize that it has had a gradual and continuous development since the 1980’s. Although, do not be fooled by the evolution characteristics content marketing prevailed in the 1980’s. It was not until 2018, where the word ‘content strategy’ really began to stick and transform the experience of many companies around the world.

Google Trends 'Content Strategy' Keyword Interest by Subregion (2004-2018) [7]

Content marketing has been around since the 1980’s. Rebecca White, states that some experts claim that content marketing has either started with cave paintings or it’s real development came to life with the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press.[1] However, online content strategy that we all know as of it today has only really been around since 2018.[2] Google Trends reveals quantitative data to suggest that the term word ‘content strategy’ has gained a presence since 2018. [7]The evolution of content strategy has incredibly evolved over the last decade.

Rachel Lovinger uses a great analogy in “Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data” to explain to someone what content strategy is that is unfamiliar with it. She states, strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design. Rachel Lovington finds this analogy encouraging, because six years ago people had no idea what “content strategy” or even “information architecture” meant. [5, Par. 2]

In 2008 content strategy started to gain traction. Content strategy began to be used in big companies to improve their user experiences. The number of search results on Google of “Content Strategy” simnifically increased from 2008 to 2018. By using Google Trends you can see how much the word “Content Strategy” was being searched for on Google in 2018 than today. In 2018 keywords were big. Having a list of relevant keyterms for your company increased the visibility with their website and introduced best CEO practices to the web.

With the overabundance of keywords used at the end of 2008, 2009 promoted change of use of these key-terms. It was recommended during this time that you use the keywords sparingly into your website. Overloading your site with key-terms often hurt it rather than helped it. Your content should drive traffic to your website with meaningful messaging. In 2009 it was key to have search engines identify your keywords not your users.[2] Additionally in 2009 social media became a target for content marketers and strategist.

In 2010 content strategy gained the attention of many large and small companies. Marketers allocated 26% of their budgets on content strategy in 2010.[3] This year has led to a shift in the approach to content marketing and a continuous change of best practices. Email marketing, integrated marketing and Facebook marketing was popular during this year. People began to think and operate their website like it was a magazine. I thought the piece of advice of magazine advertisement in 2010 was a very powerful message to the people and users during this time. Astonishingly sites like, Craigslist still use the newspaper strategy today, which is still successfully serving it’s users purpose.

In 2011 marketers rethought the use of their keywords than ever before. It was critical to not stuff your site with keywords during this time, but also identify the impact your keywords had on your Google ranking results. Companies that over used key terms were greatly impacted on Google’s search result page. Linkedin and Twitter were art platforms to gain content strategy on. Smart Insights content marketing info-graph states, 74% of content marketers use social media for for content marketing.[3]

Content Strategy key ideas, contribute to the success of your content.

In 2012, Google released a SEO update called Penguin update. This update penalized companies with spammy link practices, by lowering their Google ranking in Google’s search results. It was important to be cautious about guest link blogging or outright buying them for your webpage.

Google’s Hummingbird update replaced Google’s Penguin update in 2013. Google’s Hummingbird update prioritized engaging content, relevance and context in their rankings. Publishing short digestible content during 2013 was a key trend.[3] Overall there were a significant higher number of tactics to increase your Google ranking than the previous year.

In 2014, long-form content started to gain traction. In a content strategy report by Jakob Nielsen called “Long vs. Short Articles as Content Strategy”, I thought it was interesting to think of a long-form article as curing a disease for someone.[4] People will read your entire article if you have information they can not find anywhere else and need a lot of to understand it holistically. During this time social media was used by 87% of content marketers.[3] We also saw an increase in video on social and info-graphs at this time.

In 2015, Google released an update increasing the the Google ranking of websites with mobile friendly websites. Content strategists started to think more about writing for the user visiting their page than keywords to increase their overall ranking. Writing for the user rather than the search engine was extremely important.

In 2016, the argument between quality over quantity continued, but at the same time began to stir the industry up. 76% of content marketers their focus is more delivering content quality than quantity.[3]

Two years ago in 2017, chatbots, artificial intelligence and other high tech technologies started playing a role in content marketing strategy. User generated content and videos were used more than ever before. Paid social promotions also started to gain traction on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

With the advancement of new technologies, techniques and algorithm updates in 2018 most content strategist and SEO experts learn and apply the latest trends to shape their businesses’ digital futures. To compete with the top search engine results pages it is important to stay on top of the latest trends to shape the future for your company.  It is note worthy that storytelling became increasingly popular in 2018. As humans we are drawn to a visual narrative, because our complex psychological makeup wires us for the sharing of information through storytelling and in part due to our natural curiosity. Studies confirm that social storytelling is responsible for more than 65% of conversations had in public. [6]

By looking back on our digital history timeline it is apparent that the quantitative data suggests that ‘content strategy’ has been a evolution. Since 2008 content strategy has had a gradual and continuous development.[2] Content marketing has also had a gradual development since the 1980’s.[1, Par. 2] As we continue to introduce new technologies and digital trends across the world content strategy will continue to evolve and grow a stronger presence.

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iOS Heggy Application Animation

Heggy iPhone Application Promotion

Heggy iPhone App Promotion

Project Summary:

During the course of my Advanced Animation semester at Quinnipiac University I completed an iOS iMessage Sticker application called, Heggy. Heggy is a Free iMessage Sticker App available in Apple’s App Store. It includes over 20 free animated gifs that I created during the course of our semester. I credit my Motion Across Media class with Professor Golden to supply me with the knowledge to create the animations in my App.

Apple App Store "Heggy" Preview

The Heggy Stickers were drawn in Adobe Draw with my iPad Pro, vectored in Illustrator and colored and textured in Photoshop. They were animated in Photoshop using the Frame by Frame technique we learned during Module 1. I used XCode to code my iOS application. You can learn more about the process to create an iOS Sticker application here or feel free to get in touch with me.

One thing that has been missing was a way to promote my Application. Written posts on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter will only go so far. For my final project I knew I wanted to complete a iMessage Application promotional animation. This would be a great way to bring in the skills I learned during the semester and also promote my Sticker Application to the public in an exciting way.

After doing research on the techniques for this module, App promotions and triangular animation I had a good idea of the direction I would take for my project. I wrote down my ideas and started making a storyboard.

Scene Heggy Sticker App Promotion Storyboard

I found creating a storyboard for my promotional application was extremely necessary and helpful when it came to animating the messaging and devices. The combination of messaging and animation was key to my advertisement. If I wanted people to download my application, I needed to get their attention with messaging and eye-catching animation.

I broke my animation into Scenes. Each scene is its own pre-composition. This took some time to set up, but saved time and kept my file organized in the long run.

After watching Youtube tutorials specific to After Effects “effect panel” last module I had a better idea how to work with effects and key frames going into this project. I hit several road blocks, such as animating the messaging and device lockups at the same time, changing the color gradient behind the animated triangles and masking the overlapping animations. However, majority of these problems were resolved by a quick Google search. Seeing how other animators solved these issues as well as organized their composition and pre-compositions was very helpful.

I found that the reading this module helped me promote my work effectively. It might be hard to tell, I have a couple interactions occurring at the same time in my UI animation. Such as the device lockups, messaging and triangle animation. What I found useful during this project was creating multiple pre-compositions. This did not only separated my elements, but also kept my file extremely organized.

Overall I had a lot of fun with this project. My favorite part was concepting. After collecting my advanced animation inspiration from various sites and watching several Youtube tutorials I was ready to build on my ideas. Going into this project I had a lot of ideas, such as a virtual zoo or iMessage conversation. These ideas sounded good on paper, but would not fill the requirements as well as I imagined. Selecting a advanced animation that would showcase my work, skills I learned this semester and iOS application was a gratifying experience.

Heggy Stickers – I created my low poly hedgehog stickers in Photoshop and Illustrator. (Sketched on iPad Pro with a Apple Pencil)

Music – I wanted to keep the music serious and upbeat similar to Apple advertisements. I found the music on Youtube by searching for “Up beat instrumental background music”.

Sound Effects – I added sound effects that would go along with the text animations and confetti. I used ambient audio to give a sense of place.

Animation – I wanted to incorporate a few of the 10 principles of animation that we learned Module 8 as well as use some of the techniques we learned.

Positioning as well as aligning the headline and subhead for my animation was made easy by it's bounding box.
Instead of using numbers for my timeline markers this assignment, I used "IN" and "OUT" labels. "IN" represents the starting motion and "OUT" represents it's exiting motion.
I used a Gradient Ramp effect to create the blue gradient behind the animated triangles.

The Animated Gifs Included in the App

The Animated Gifs Included in the App

This was a fun Gif I made to promote my application.

Below you will find the hedgehog GIFS I created during the semester included in my iMessage App. I created the hedgehog gifs in Adobe Draw, Photoshop, Illustrator and the iMessage Sticker Application in XCode.

The application includes a tab that includes static hedgehog stickers and an animated tab with animated hedgehogs. The animated tab was inspired by the material we covered in Module 1 on Animated gifs. I used the drawing and Gif Sketching techniques we learned in Module 1 to create the animated hedgehogs. This is where I used Adobe Draw on my iPad pro to sketch the rough draft of my hedgehog gifs. Sketching my hedgehog prior to creating the elements in Illustrator was a very important step.

If you have time to download and/or review Heggy that would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

If you are interested in learning more about iOS Sticker Applications feel free to contact me here. 🙂

Final Animation
Heggy Twitter promotion

Chapter 10: Show and Tell

Chapter 10: Show and Tell

Chapter ten called “Show and Tell” was all about creating, networking and sharing your work. It was a great chapter to understand how I can distinguish my work from other animators and finding the right audience to market it to. The first paragraph gave me a sense of relief as well supplied me with the motivation to market my animated projects in the appropriate market. Liz Blaze discussed that we have the opportunity to make our work seen like never before this time in history. The internet has the power to expose our creative projects more than ever before this time in history. She explained how every animated story has the potential to become a hit and embed in our culture. I thought it was wise of Liz to discuss the cabel networks battling digital players such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu within her introduction to chapter ten. Often times we recognize the power of the web, but often forget competition ahead of us.

How to tell the public about the story of your animation:

Step 1: Package Your Project

Create a working link that’s ready to be shared.

Title Logo and Still: Design a clean logo for the title of your project.

Synopsis: Write a clear description of your project.

Director Bio: Write a bio for what you want to be known as professionally, followed by your accomplishments that support your role.

Story of the Film: Finally you need to have the story of your films creation written out and memorized for future interviews.

Step 2: Creating your Network 

Networking, Online Version:

Network online to connect with amazing people around the world.

Networking, Human Version:

Network in person at industry events.

Share and repeat: 

Be professional and invest in your targeted audience.

I really enjoyed reading Liz Blazer’s Animated Story Telling book this semester. It gave me a comprehensive look at the filmmaking process while executing my weekly assignments. It was kind of like having a mini film school in the palm of your hands. Furthermore, Liz’s book gave me a clear path to thinking through and clarifying my creative projects. I would highly recommend Liz Blazer’s book to anyone in or interested in the animation field. I plan on referencing her book and following her processes for my future projects. Thanks Liz!

You can also network with Liz Blazer in her Facebook Animated Storytelling group or find her at www.lizblazer.com

Liz Blazer's inspirational list.

Animation Inspiration

Advanced Motion #1

This was probably one of the most informative 3D Animation tutorials I came across during my research phase. Ian Robinson starts his tutorial by explaining the difference of 2D and 3D. Furthermore, he provides side by side comparisons of how they are created. Learning to not only create something that is 3D in Afters Effects, but 2D was very inspiring and helpful. I would highly recommend anyone interested in learning more about 3D Animation to watch this video. You can watch Ian Robison’s complete course online at Lynda.com. The course is 11 hours and 2 minutes long and explores the world of motion graphics, keying, and compositing in After Effects CC. 

Advanced Motion #2

Learning about Motion Tracking was very useful advanced animation technique. I found this tutorial demonstrated how to motion track an object/video to a piece of footage in Adobe After Effects 2017 super effective. Prior to coming across this video I heard of “Motion Tracking”, but was not 100% aware of it’s capabilities. Motion tracking, also known as motion capture is the process of recording the movement of people or objects. This video is inspiring to me, because it makes the process seem much less intimidating. I plan on keeping this tutorial handy for future inspiration and guidance.

Advanced Motion #3

This animation has so many elements I like about it. The device animations are in sync with the messaging, the music goes well with the storyline and the colors it uses are eye-catching. This animation gave me a great idea how to prepare my storyboard and final project. Working with UI interfaces is such a fun element to animate and this promotional animation does a great job showcases.

Advanced Motion #4

I found this YouTube video by extremely inspirational and valuable. Henry Dickinson discusses the best practices for business promotional videos. Furthermore, he discusses the step by step process he took to create his promotional video. His video gives off a real and genuine vibe, which is what I like about it the most. Producing a promotional video like his is fairly straightforward, however a well thought out storyboard and script was mandatory to tell his story.

Advanced Motion #5

During this module I was really curious and intrigued how animators brought 2D (and 3D triangles in this case), into their animation. I knew for my final project I wanted to bring in multiple techniques and knew triangle motion would be one if them. This movie trailer brings in three dimensional triangles to their title pages in a beautifully eye-catching motion. The depth of field the triangles take on in this animation is incredible.

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Nike and Adidas Site Evaluation

Summary:

Nike and Adidas are two leading companies in the sporting goods industry. Both attract a variety of users and carry similar products. However, their users have different motivations, influencers, environments etc.

Problem Solved:

By performing “hypothetical” and “validated” user research on Adidas and Nike’s website I was able to define the differences and similarities of their user’s experiences. My focus was on nike.com and adidas.com experience.

Tools Used:

Sketch, Photoshop and Keynote.

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