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Episode #108 Kristina Halvorson’s "Message and Medium: Better Content by Design" UI15 Session Sample

December 22, 2010  ·  11 minutes

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At this year’s User Interface Conference, Kristina Halvorson presented “Message and Medium: Better Content by Design.” Here's a sample of her talk from the conference.

Show Notes

We have a special podcast for you today, a sample of a session recorded live at our recent User Interface 15 Conference.

At UI15, Kristina Halvorson presented “Message and Medium: Better Content by Design.” With the sheer number of delivery possibilities these days, content is seen in many different ways. But how the content looks on these various platforms won’t matter if the message itself isn’t right to begin with.

This is where content strategy comes in to play. Communicating a clear, focused, and current message takes coordination. Without this coordination, it’s difficult to distribute your message across multiple platforms.

According to Kristina, messaging architecture is where your content really begins. She says that your message should not be about marketing, instead you should focus on why people come to you. Your primary message is about why you exist. Thinking this way will help you prioritize your content, guide your design choices, and keep your content consistent.

Kristina points out that we all have websites because we want people to do something, some call to action. Identifying those calls to action will help you make decisions. These decisions help determine what kind of experience your users will have. She says you need to consider the “One Second Impression” in order to alleviate frustrations of your users and get them to stay on your page. It is within the 4-10 second range that they begin to take in the actual content of the page. In those first 5 seconds, Kristina says that “you need to work to convey that primary reason, why it is that we exist, and that we see you. We understand why you are here.”

Next, she talks about the types of messages. Your primary message begins to spawn the 3-6 secondary messages you should have. Those secondary messages then go on to produce thousands of details which support and guide your content.

She says that in order to develop a strong primary message, you should focus on three key questions. Who are you, what do you deliver, and what do I get? These questions will help develop content that is appropriate for your users. She says that every word of you primary message needs to have distinct meaning, it has to be air tight, and that you can’t let any words go to waste because all other messages on your site are born from this one message.

Once you determine your primary and secondary messages you can begin to determine exactly what types of content will be on your site. Very quickly, you realize that you’re into structure, which is your information architecture. Kristina says that your structure and your substance need to work together and inform each other to deliver on the experience.

The full recording of Kristina’s talk as well as the other seven Featured Talks are available for purchase as part of UI15 OnDemand. Included in the proceedings are the handouts and presentation slides from the Featured Talks and also from the 8 full day workshops. Get more information or place your order for UI15 OnDemand.