A content manager’s job is broad and varied. They are the link between various specialists while also needing to be specialists in several areas themselves. A talented content manager will propel a site’s strategy and development forward. But to do this they need to excel in numerous areas. Here are 7 key web content skills to start with.
If you are planning a site launch in 4 months you need to identify every piece of content that you will require along with all the other tasks involved in devlopment. For Cycle Ireland, I took around 8000 photos, selected 1650, photoshopped and captioned each of those, and then started work on the videos, text and supporting content.
Being an outstanding content manager requires the ability to plan in detail from the outset. Efficient processes and good organising is essential in order to keep problems and missed deadlines to a minimum.
This goes without saying. Doesn’t it? Good writing includes good punctuation, spelling and grammar. Your website is one of the most important ways that your customers will judge you. It has to strike the correct tone and it has to be accurate. There are no shortcuts around this. If you are not a good writer, what should you do? Improve or get a different job.
You don’t need to be an expert graphic designer but you do need to have an expert sensibility. Knowing your way around Photoshop or Fireworks will make your work a lot easier when you have an emergency or you want to try out ideas so that you can more easily identify what you want when you are dealing with your graphic designer.
And this is an area where a little knowledge goes a long way. You can very quickly learn the basics of graphics manipulation. Graphic design, of course, is far more complex but you improve over time if you pay attention and do a little work in the area. Now go learn the names of twentyfonts that you like.
A good content manager will have some knowledge of how their site works in the background. It may not often be needed, but it will speed up planning sessions and will help the content manager to understand what is and isn’t possible and why. It will make them more effective and more efficient.
Press CTRL+U on your site and read through the code. How much of it did you understand? Were there parts that you couldn’t guess the purpose of?
A good worker knows their tools. Code is a tool and the more you can use it the better you will be at the job. And it saves money – development can be quicker and easier if content practitioners can be trusted to test things out with pieces of code.
Marketing and Social Media
Many roles combine content with these functions. In other organisations they are specialisations. If that is the case, the content manager will work closely with the marketer and social media manager. To be the best at what you do, you need to understand why your colleagues do what they do.
And you need to work closely with them if they are marketing your content, and to get their feedback on what is working and what isn’t. And you will probably have to direct them on a couple of issues too…
If you are carrying out marketing and social media functions as part of your role then you need to multitask, test, test and test again.
You need to now what elements of your content strategy are working and what aren’t. By far the best method of learning that is analytics. You need to be able to interpret the figures and challenge your own assumptions about what they tell you.
If you are lucky, you will have an analyst but you need to be able to understand the complexities involved and develop the work practices that will easily match your actions with the data gathered.
The remit of content manager covers so many different areas that an ability to develop good working relationships with others is vital. An important element of this is understanding enough of their job that you can speak the same metaphorical language. For example, the word “broken” will often mean different things to different people in the development process. It can mean “badly specified”, “badly implemented”, “impossible” or just “broken”, depending on who you speak to.
Petty arguments are a drag on efficiency and easily avoided by a content manager skilled at dealing easily with others.
7 Key Web Content Skills and more…
Add to this video, photography, project management, research, industry knowledge and trends, leadership skills and much, much more and you get an idea of how few people are likely to excel at the job in a world of specialisation.
So go learn some new skills and become a better content manager.