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Agile and content strategy

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  • writebyteuk
    Hello all: I m a new member to this group but am prompted to post because I wanted to find out if anyone here has worked/is working with a content strategist
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 17, 2011
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      Hello all:

      I'm a new member to this group but am prompted to post because I wanted to find out if anyone here has worked/is working with a content strategist (or any content person, for that matter - editor, copywriter, etc) on their agile projects.

      Last year, I was the content strategist on a team at a design agency that had been tasked with a fairly sizable website redesign. They'd decided to use agile, and this was my first experience trying to operate as a CS person in this way.

      One challenge was that I should have been brought in at sprint zero but wasn't for various reasons. So, when I arrived, the IA team had already developed the site map. While I had done a content audit, it was clear the IA team had not spent quality time with the deep-level content as I had. As we'd tackle a section of the site in a sprint, I'd have the chance to validate the current state content against the proposed IA. Invariably, I'd find gaps or redundancies, and we'd have to update the IA accordingly but this was never a major issue due to agile's iterative nature.

      Still, the process did leave me a bit frustrated at times since I felt that IA and design were leading content decisions and not the other way around. I also found I missed having that "big picture" view I can usually develop on more traditional waterfall projects.

      However, all that aside, the team by and large "got" the importance of the content, and wherever possible, real content was used in the wireframes and always in the designs and any prototypes used in the ongoing usability testing. I also found it valuable to have a voice in the daily scrums – either I or the copywriter would be there to raise content issues, thereby ensuring content always had a seat at the table.

      With the lovely benefit of hindsight, I am sure there are many things I could/should have done differently. But I would be curious to hear about other people's experiences, specifically as they relate to the role of content in your agile projects...

      Many thanks - Lisa
    • William Pietri
      Hi, Lisa! Thanks for sharing your story. I always find real-life project stories fascinating. ... It seems like that s a reasonable environment to be somewhat
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 17, 2011
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        Hi, Lisa! Thanks for sharing your story. I always find real-life project stories fascinating.

        On 02/17/2011 05:24 AM, writebyteuk wrote:
        Last year, I was the content strategist on a team at a design agency that had been tasked with a fairly sizable website redesign. They'd decided to use agile, and this was my first experience trying to operate as a CS person in this way. 
        
        One challenge was that I should have been brought in at sprint zero but wasn't for various reasons. So, when I arrived, the IA team had already developed the site map. While I had done a content audit, it was clear the IA team had not spent quality time with the deep-level content as I had. As we'd tackle a section of the site in a sprint, I'd have the chance to validate the current state content against the proposed IA. Invariably, I'd find gaps or redundancies, and we'd have to update the IA accordingly but this was never a major issue due to agile's iterative nature. 
        
        Still, the process did leave me a bit frustrated at times since I felt that IA and design were leading content decisions and not the other way around. I also found I missed having that "big picture" view I can usually develop on more traditional waterfall projects. 
        

        It seems like that's a reasonable environment to be somewhat frustrated in. (I'm speaking here as a long-time Agilist and as somebody who understands how important good content is.)  These are the red flags that jump out at me in the situation you describe:

        • design agency
        • fairly sizable redesign
        • having a sprint zero
        • one section of the site per sprint
        • feeling like other people are not appreciating what you do
        • status/control issues

        What I'm hearing in what you describe is some people who are following some of the agile rituals and get some of the spirit, but still have a long way to go. Given that, it sounds like things turned out reasonably well.

        Regarding the desire to have a static big picture, I think that's one of the things that gets less painful over time. One of the insights behind Agile approaches is that the beginning of a project is when we know the least. The goal is to develop a dynamic big picture over time, both through collaboration and through exploration of the product space.

        William

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