Scilla Askew graduated from the publishing course in 2010 and is now a content strategist at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
When I finished the publishing course I didn’t really know what I would do next. I was quite keen to do something webby and wordy, and something that allowed me to combine my strategic and mess-sorting skills. My first job – wrangling the content for a revamped government website – fitted that description pretty well. It was only after I finished the contract that I discovered that some of what I had been doing was called a web content strategy.
Content strategy is reasonably new. It defines and then implements the why, who, what, how and when for a website. This is vital for content-heavy websites but is also important in commercial sites where the emphasis is more on finding and creating content to attract people to the site.
Websites are unlike print publications in that they are always in editing mode. Part of the job of a content strategist (as for any good publisher or editor) is to be an advocate for the reader. This means that every aspect of the website content – navigation, structure, text, images and much more – needs to be guided by very comprehensive design, style and maintenance decisions in order to achieve coherence across hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pages. Making the website content fit for purpose can also be a bit of a challenge because you work with lots of subject-matter experts and hardly any writers.
To do this job I need many of the skills I learnt on the publishing course – ranging from all kinds of editing to relationship management. However, I also need to understand what my colleagues who work on user research, web design and techie things are doing – a great way to keep on learning.
Because I live in Wellington, most of my work has been in government departments, and I’m currently working on a start-from-scratch project to replace Immigration New Zealand’s website.
Do I miss paper? A little bit, but at least I still look forward to reading a good novel.