In this episode, Noz Urbina and Scott Kubie delve into the world of content ecosystem mapping. They discuss how this strategic approach can revolutionise content strategy by aligning digital strategy with business goals. Learn how to disambiguate and clarify your organisation’s content reality, making it easier to see the forest for the trees. Scott discusses the blurring lines between designers and writers, emphasising the importance of integrating design and words to create holistic, strategy-driven content.
What you will learn:
- Uncover your content reality through ecosystem mapping, breaking free from page-centric thinking
- Explore crucial roles in the mapping process, including disambiguating roles for enhanced content operations
- Foster a stronger connection between design and content by encouraging designers to embrace fidelity with words and iterative text refinement
- Ensure consistency and scalability in an omnichannel world by embracing the editing function in content creation.
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Scott Kubie is a leading voice in digital strategy and UX design. He is an inventive, systems-minded designer with deep experience in all things content.
He’s been a staff content strategist at Mailchimp, content strategy lead at Brain Traffic, and the first UX content strategist at Wolfram Research. Scott wrote the seminal design writing text Writing for Designers.
Full session transcript
THIS IS AN AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT
Noz Urbina 58:45
Hello, everybody. This is Noz Urbina, your host of the omnichannel X podcast brought to you by Urbina Consulting I have with me today, Scott Kubie, who is a well-known name in the Content Strategy community has been working for brands like Brain Traffic. He’s been a content strategist, MailChimp and Wolfram Alpha. And if you’re a nerd like me that that is one that makes you most Diddy. We’re very, we’ve got a great commerce or conversation lined up for you. It’s a we’re gonna talk about content ecosystem mapping, which is Scott’s sort of concept for the mapping out the concepts and entities and channels. Before you get into all the other stuff that we’re usually talking about domain modeling and content modeling and journey mapping and so on. Really getting ready setting your eventual modeling efforts on the right track by mapping out the people and the channels and the process and responsibilities, a little bit like a visual of your content operations. So that before you do anything else, you really kind of figure out who to talk to how things come together and build your strategy in the right way or it’s a kind of a very nice way of describing typing good discovery work. And I like the way that Scott’s gonna put that together for you. And then we get into the cross collaborate crossovers and collaborations between designers and content oriented people like Scott has written a book writers for designers, right writing for designers. And we’re talking about content designers and UX writers. And there’s all these kinds of crossovers in this market. So we talked a little bit about that, and how you keep a good relationship between really content oriented people and people who might be dipping their feet in content, and how do you keep them to model stuff like that? So I hope you enjoyed the discussion, and I’ll see you next time.
So I’m here today with Scott Kubie. I’m delighted to finally have him on the podcast. We’ve known each other for many, many years. And this is going to be an interesting one. I am sure. So Scott, you want to tell the audience a little bit about yourself your background? What do you do?
Scott Kubie 12:48
Yeah, sure. Happy to be here. So I do a lot of things sort of at the describing myself on my website, as a designer who writes, sometimes I am a content strategist who is practicing information architecture, or an IA who’s doing content strategy or something there and but a lot of my work over a decade plus now has been content strategy consulting, so working with big enterprise organizations to sort of set strategy aligned digital strategy with business goals more broadly. And I’ve also done a lot of work that is sort of helping people who maybe feel like they wear one kind of hat or fit into one kind of track in an organization. So maybe they think of themselves as a designer, or they think of themselves as a writer, or they think of themselves as a content strategist. I like to do things to help people see that they, those those lanes aren’t exclusive and that those toolboxes aren’t padlocked, so to speak, right, you can borrow tools. From design world, you can borrow tools from writing and editorial land, and use them in your day to day work. So that’s, that’s what gets me excited.
Noz Urbina 13:55
Awesome. That’s well, that’s on my mind a lot these days. It’s, especially with AI, which one will have to ask you about at some point or else I get kicked off? ocassion circuit chair. Right. Yeah. So what I have here, you using the term content ecosystem mapping? Can you tell me a little bit about very interested because it sounds like some other stuff we do in different spaces, but under a different name. So honestly, the interconnections and such.
Scott Kubie 14:25
Yeah, it’s funny, you know, because because sometimes when I’m teaching, and I’ll explain what it is in a moment, but you know, sometimes when I’m explaining the content, ecosystem, happiness, it’s a, the whole thing feels very new to people. And so they that sort of formative for them. And that’s how they start to think about it. Other folks that I work with, depending on their background and experience, they’re sitting there for a while, and they’re like, wait a minute, isn’t this domain modeling, or isn’t this object oriented UX or isn’t this just concept models? Depending on how you use it? Yeah, I would say the answer is yes. So for folks with more of a UX design background, the way I would tend to describe it is that a content ecosystem map is a conceptual model. It’s a concept model. So you’re diagramming ideas, topics, nouns. But you’re sort of doing it from the perspective of a very content strategy or digital strategy minded question, such as the most common one for me is like, what is the shape of our content ecosystem? And I like to do that. And I think the technique is pretty popular and valuable for a lot of organizations over the years, because it puts a different spin on it. And it gets us away from sitemaps. And it gets us away from thinking first about the website, the ask people what the shape of their website is, that’s a very different conversation than what is the shape of our content ecosystem. And people forget, in the spirit of the MC, an omni channel is right over your head, there wasn’t in the video, like in the spirit of being an omni channel. There are a lot of channels that that organizations don’t even necessarily own or control that are really relevant to their content ecosystem, like search engine result pages for major search engines. So thinking about the shape of the ecosystem, actors in that system, that’s where we kind of get the ecosystem mindset a little bit now. So it begs and borrows and seals from some of those things. I’ve done some that look very workflow diagramming, I’ve done some that end up looking very much like a domain model, or even just kind of an ontological model of something. But for me, ultimately, it’s about the process that we take the organizations through, I can crumple the map up and throw it away at the end, as long as we got to have really good conversations about your content reality. Yeah. So there’s the quote, that’s that’s been bouncing around in this whole series has about designing content for headless and omni channel and personalization has been content models, are the friends you met along the way. I love it. Yeah, I mean, so much of this is, I mean, it’s not real, right? Like the words on the page that the user is reading, like, those are things that you’ve published, have some realness to them. And that that’s in theory of final forum. But even you know, going back to Conversations a decade ago, and content strategy, when everyone was dealing with Content Strategy for Mobile and responsive is becoming more popular, helping people understand that even like, you could be looking at the you know, final, final final dot final V seven, PDF. com, that’s, that’s still not reality, reality, just in the way that a content model is. I’m fond of, in one of my talks in ecosystem mapping. A lot of people know that, oh, the map is not the territory. Right? Which, interestingly, is kind of half of the quote, If you carry it all the way out. And I’m gonna butcher it a little bit here from memory. But the full code is something along the lines of the map is not the territory. But if it, you know, accurately describes the territory, it will prove useful. So it’s so it’s sort of like, yeah, it’s not the thing, but it’s a description of the thing. And boy, isn’t it nice to have a description of the thing before we to extend the metaphor a little bit like before we plan some sort of journey, you’re trying to do something based on this map? Yeah, absolutely. I gotta credit that quote to Jeff Eaton way, let’s learn about another man. Right. So it’s what I think, to kind of put ecosystem mapping the way that you do it in its place. You mentioned putting stakeholders or people on it. So is that like roles? Particular? Yeah, typically, I like to do roles. And so like, you know, one example could be is a lot of what I do is disambiguation work, I think a lot of people in this field are doing some form of disambiguation. And that is like, I feel like that’s my superpower is to help a roomful of people see, that the thing is not the thing, right? The company is not the website, the website is not the website, the website is made multiple things. The homepage is not just a page, it’s actually, you know, through the technology in the waste engineer, there’s actually 18 channels coming together to form what we think of as one webpage, for instance. And so if you take like, let’s say, you have a lot of thought leadership in your organization, maybe that’s part of your marketing strategy. So you’re gonna have a role that is a CEO or a VP or a CTO, potentially. So that’s a role that could impact your content operations. Conceivably, you’re also going to have like that person’s name, as an effect, a brand that your organization is stewarding and managing. And it has some impact. You might have a channel that is, you know, letters, right. Every once in a while you open up Amazon and there’s like, a big letter from Bezos, like over the homepage. So it’s like this super channel. Apple does this on occasion too, but there’s like a, you know, a super channel from the CEO that overtakes the homepage. So you know, understanding that like, Okay, there’s one idea which is the CEO or this person’s name, you know, A ms head honcho, and now you have, you’ve pulled it apart into several things. And importantly, often organizations realize that the different parts of that thing need to be managed in different ways need to be planned for by different teams, maybe need to have different editorial standards that apply to them, so on and so forth. So, yeah, so I absolutely I love to put roles in there, because it starts to help people see it. And especially importantly, for my work, it’s a really useful way to explain and visualize content operations, you can start to put things like content strategist on the on the map, maybe that is not a titled role in the organization, I think it’s fine. If you don’t necessarily have a title content strategy. If you don’t, you could hire me, maybe I’d love to be yours. But it’s still a role that someone has to occupy, right. It’s a function, its functions. Yeah. So someone’s going to someone is can be assigned to the role of content strategist. And so we can describe what that means we can have a content strategy team, we could have a content Operations Director, all of these things that we could prop up around, you know, just like if you had an emergency management plan for your office that’s going to describe a bunch of roles and responsibilities that aren’t related to people’s job titles, it’s that we can just assign people to those roles. And that feels very normal. If you plan a holiday party for your office, now someone’s in charge of the ice. Now someone’s in charge of the music. Now someone’s in charge of the invitations, it’s very natural to assign those kinds of roles. But we just don’t often think that way. We think about the people that are sitting around the table and their first names, and we get a lot of the job titles, yeah, or their job titles. So we get a little in the weeds about the the operation. So I love to put brands, channels, guidelines like like nameable operational things, right, like the monthly editorial meeting, or the style guidelines, or whatever they might be to put that stuff, right all in one canvas and let people start to play with how that all fits together. Interesting, because that’s coming back to disambiguating. On a domain model, we’re usually, you know, trying to focus on the things the real world things. And the content model, were talking about the content that we create about the things. And it’s very, and when the only time that I’ve kind of put all of that together is when I’m getting into the scary world of ontologies. So I’d be very interested to see one of these you have, do you have one public that you can? Yeah, I have some resources. Just it’s at my way, I’ll send you a link, but it’s at my website slash content ecosystems. I think where it gets interesting. Yeah, Kubie that code. So relative to like, domain modeling? Well, actually, what you’re saying had me think I used to call this organizational modeling as sort of akin to concept modeling and domain modeling. It wasn’t as catchy people didn’t go to that workshop, I started calling it content ecosystem mapping, and more people started showing up. So you know, it’s a little bit of a branding thing. No, no, no, I love it. It’s, it makes sense. And I’d be interested to look into it. I’ve got, I do a lot of work in customer journey mapping and domain mapping and ontologies and content models. But then there’s also stakeholder mapping, which is the the roles and relationships of the people who are in this system. So I think we were, we do map all these together. And it’s always it’s so complicated, that seeing someone else’s techniques and seeing someone else’s output is always educational. Like, even if you’ve been doing it for years, it’s always good to go. Oh, well, yeah, that’s interesting. The way you do that there. Yeah, really interesting. There’s so many I love journey mapping, when we already have our heads clear. I love content modeling, when we already have our heads clear. Those are fantastic techniques, I facilitate those as well. The thing I found going in is a consulting content strategist very often is, you know, there’s the part of the reason I developed this technique, and that I approach things, the way that I do through mapping is there’s not really a nice way to tell a roomful of executives, y’all don’t understand what your business actually does. Right? Like that, or how it works, or what each of these functions and operational components are supposed to be doing. Everyone is like, well, I have this number we make number go up. I know there’s more strategy behind it. And this isn’t to denigrate anyone, like they’re intelligent, they’re acting from their instincts, and they’re managing these major projects, and they’re hitting milestones, but it’s very hard to see the forest for the trees in that kind of environment, especially when we’ve got if you got a publicly traded company, and there’s quarterly goals that you’re trying to hit and all this kind of stuff to just have a roomful of people say, okay, so we all have ID badges with the same logo on them. And you know, before COVID We all came into the same office. Why, to what end and having absolute or as close to absolute clarity in the room. amongst your stakeholders about that, I think is necessary. For all the work that follows if you don’t have it the customer journey mapping, in my opinion, a waste to the content modeling is going to be wrong. Right? Yeah, no, no, I absolutely. Like editorial planning. I’m fond of saying like, if you don’t have your strategy set, like editorial planning as a system to be wrong regularly, right, like, that’s what our editorial calendar is going to do, we have now devised a system that is going to help us do the wrong thing on time every month. So yeah, how to get your ideas straight. Yeah, I know, I have a very similar kind of go to quote, which is that for the first 10 years of my career, I got invited in and companies paid me sometimes quite handsomely, to to automate and structure processes to do the wrong thing. Because they had never questioned, you know, that we wanted to make that we wanted to make the thing faster, we wanted to make a big automated machine, to allow us to create, publish, translate the things more efficiently and cheaply and quickly. But then coming in the second half of my career, like when I founded my own company, I started to put really be all about pushing back and going, Are we making the right thing? Has anyone asked? Has anyone checked? Is anyone measuring the fit? The gaps between what we’re making and what the people actually want? Yeah. And, you know, and buried in that question, as well is, is, you know, are we making the right thing for us, you can make a thing that people love, you can make a thing that gets traffic that maybe even generates a certain percentage of leads, but you know, when we are can make room to have those higher level conversations, there’s, there are opportunities to, you know, I sort of think about it is like, you know, there’s that that famous Eames studio powers of 10. videos, like an educational film, from I want to say the 70s, maybe, but you know, it starts really zoomed in on like, you know, atoms, and then we come out Oh, yeah, you know, it goes out. And, you know, so pulling way out, to be able to say, and it’s what’s so crazy about the mapping to me are so wonderful about it is, if you were to just in conversation, say, Well, what happens if we don’t have you know, what, if these topics aren’t part of our content marketing program anymore, like in conversation, that’s an immediate defensive reaction that someone is going to have of like, oh, well, but that drives this, and that’s connected to this. But if you have it all laid out, I’m looking at her with six legs. And I say, Well, what if we take this one leg off? Everyone can see like, well, that chairs probably still gonna stand. And then you can say, well, what if we take this leg off too? And they’re gonna say, well, that yeah, then then we actually be down to a normal four legged chair. Why don’t we just do that? And I say, yeah, you all are so smart. What a wonderful idea. Why don’t we just do that? And they sort of knew it all along and you knew it coming into the room from the background research that you did be you have to have I mean, it’s a it’s a MacGuffin of sorts. A lot of the mapping work that I do is like what? Yes, it’s a film. Film Studies thing. So like in Maltese Falcon. The film noir classic, like the statue is a MacGuffin. It’s just like a thing to move the plot along. Or like in if anyone’s watching, this has been watching us Ahsoka. You know, there’s a map and did it have to be a map? No, it could have been a, you know, the Deathstar plans to a certain extent or MacGuffin? It’s like, What’s everyone seen on that just helps us tell stories along the way. So the map is this thing that we all focus on that helps us tell stories about why organizations exist, why our websites exist, why the different programs exist, why this team runs this and not that team. And it’s, in particular, what I really like about it is that some of them are introverted or quiet, or maybe just honestly, like demoralized, people on the teams feel like they have a little more freedom to speak to the map, which is an abstraction of the organization, but it’s not as scary and it doesn’t make you seem as like confrontational the person to say, Well, why does this connect to this and not to this, as well as you do the things that way? Yeah. Why do you do things this way? Or why do you report to this team and not to that team? And now it’s like, well, who are you to ask blah, blah, blah? Say, we’re just having fun. We’re just mapping here. Yeah, no, I think I think it’s great. I think it’s you’re you’re putting some very, very catchy terminology around discovered, like the necessary discovery work of getting a project off to the writer start understanding who’s who, what’s what, how do we want to work? And you know, and as we’re on omnichannel X breaking away from that the page on site centric approach, because the there’s there’s kind of a blink during that happens when you walk in going. So how are we going to make a website? Or like, what are we going to do with these pages as opposed to a Looking at, at at as content and goals to support people who are having experiences and so on? And then how do we measure those experiences? Yeah, absolutely it because you can go, you know, in the, when you take like a concept modeling language or domain modeling kind of language, the way that I do it in the mapping work that I do, you can go go first, right? So people need x, they need answers to this, or they need solutions for y or what have you. And then you can, you can kind of map back the other way to our website provides information about X, the information about X has facts and figures about Y, which can help inform decisions about z, which mat now we can we’ve literally drawn a picture of how we meet a user need on the website, which is so much better than like, what are all the things we want to write about? I don’t know, let’s make a big list and then try and turn that into some sort of? Yeah, no, it’s that I think the fundamental I think what I’m seeing it now, from the industry, I think that even five years ago, you I met so many brands that were very, very focused on what they wanted to publish. This is what we want to say, this is the message we want to get out there. And now I think a COVID kind of shook the world and give a smack in the face. And this kind of, it’s kind of a wake up call to to kind of relook at things. And so now we’re going, Well, what, why am I doing this and who wants to hear what I want to publish. It could also be a function of having kid like, peak saturation, like as we just could not keep adding messages and expecting them to listen. So there’s a there’s an acknowledgement now that we have to be more strategic as it were really targeting particular needs, as opposed to targeting people, I’m just going to target you and pelt you with this stuff, as opposed to targeting requirements, jobs that you have and how we facilitate them. Well, and I think that speaks to a reason that although you know, with the very recent job market, it’s hard to see where it’s going to shake out. But But broadly, we’ve seen in the last several years, writing on somewhat of an ascendancy people are paying a little bit more respect to it. We have UX writers, we have content designers, we have people learning and studying this, I’ve got UX designers, content specialists, people in my workshops, trying to learn more about design. And I think that some of what we’re seeing is that if you really have a messaging strategy, right, if there’s some key ideas about your brand, or your campaign that you’re trying to get out there, it’s not just from literally saying things by in words that you publish, to get that across, you can integrate it into the design too, and have an opinionated design, and getting designers and writers and I would argue information architects, although we’re not using that term as much anymore, but getting people who are like kind of conceptually minded Information Architecture minded in my vocabulary, like to think about a given flow a given customer journey, what can we do holistically to communicate the message that we want to communicate, rather than what are all of the things we have to publish that will communicate that? And that’s where like working, whether I mean, you can you can do this with customer journey mapping Absolutely. Or any, any technique that gets people drawing. I’m happy with that, but starting to see that. Okay, like maybe there is something about the signup process for this that could reflect our point of view, maybe there is something about the colors that we choose, that could reflect our point of view, maybe the fact that we decide to do this with a concierge model, where someone steps in and does a little bit of work for you speaks to our point of view, or our brand promise or what have you, it’s an hour get bringing service design into the equation. Those things can all and this is what I’ve been trying to teach my students in some of my my UX writing classes is like that can all map back to, I would argue, a strategy led by a content strategist by someone who is looking holistically, especially in enterprise content strategist, some or you know, a similar title Operations Director, what have you, but like looking across the organization looking beyond the UX or the CX function, thinking about all the support content, right, so we’re not just like it’s stuck in this endless dosey doe of you know, there’s a there’s a marketing page and there’s a Support page for every single topic in our entire product lineup, right? We can get, hey, let’s start working together on these things. One of these pages has the answer to this person searching query. We should have an opinion about which of those it is and you know, Team individually can make that call. You have to have someone who’s looking at it and talking about it. In a more holistic way? Yeah, absolutely. I am very interested in this, this kind of trend of the the blurring of the lines, you know that where designers learning how to write and writers are learning more about design I’ve been coming at it from from the words side, it’s not that’s my background. So I’ve been going into teams that are about the words and going, we are designing content. And we’re content is a product that we are going to look at requirements, we’re going to get users, we’re going to have, you know, betas, and we’re going to do prototyping, tests, validation criteria, iterations, like all that stuff, bringing that to words. And that’s been going quite well. The designers who are getting more into the words, I’m not, I’m not as much part of that community. So I that’s why I like having you’d like like yourself on the on the on the plugs. What I always worry about that is how do you keep people from kind of designing just enough words to get their form or their widget or their page done? And making sure that they plug into that larger strategy, which is where I’m usually working? Yeah, it’s a challenge to depend on the team structure, you know, who what resources are available to them? I actually think that’s a very good starting point is to to focus on if you’re thinking like, okay, as an organization, how can we improve our content, we have a lot of designers, we don’t have all of the writers or content people that we would like, we can’t afford to hire Nasir Scott right now, like, what can we do? I think that encouraging designers to to do as much as they can, which is a little different, I’m turning your your framing a little bit from like, doing enough to get it done to doing as much as they’re capable of, and then having the psychological safety and the support network in the organization for them to be able to admit that right. And to be able to say, this is the best I can do. And you can approach you can talk about that in a content operations or workflow perspective, like we have an expectation that wireframes are going to have or prototypes are going to have real words in them. Those real words can be prototypes as well, right? Fidelity is such a challenging thing with writing. Because when you write something that looks finished, if I sketch something on a whiteboard, we know that’s not hedge. If I write words on a whiteboard, we still generally know that’s not a web page. If I write something in text and send it to you, it looks as dumb as any other sentence, because it’s just letters on a screen. I have
Noz Urbina 37:42
a whole rant about that. Yeah. So
Scott Kubie 37:45
I think that’s the thing we can teach designers about is that like, what they already know about fidelity, they can apply to words, use whatever trick they like, make the words hot pink, put conditionals or variables in there. Set time, you know, my one of my first roles, working with the UX team, just one of my early in house jobs in my career, I was supporting 1213 UX designers, people gasp now, it was a lot of designers. And for the most part, I think it worked fine, because I met with all of them regularly set up that kind of relationship where they did whatever they could, they brought me things that they had written. And these are folks who not only a lot of them, didn’t see themselves as writers, for a lot of them, English wasn’t the language they’re most comfortable working in. So that was a that was a lot of trust building over time, to get people who felt comfortable sharing with me, writing that made them very uncomfortable. And I think when they saw the results of them bringing something in, if nothing else, it cut down all of the annoying questions, I had to ask them about who is this for? And what are we trying to do? And what does this button do? And what’s going to happen when they click the box? And if they check, you know, if they check this before they complete, like, you know, once they see that it’s 20 questions every time they’re like, okay, okay, okay, I’m just gonna write out everything that this design does. And then I’m gonna get help from someone. So yeah, I think embracing fidelity, embracing versions and iteration on text. I don’t know that a lot of people who don’t right know that that’s how writing works. It doesn’t come out. Perfect. From the first word to the last we met way the designers work.
Noz Urbina 39:25
I think you’re also like, we’re coming back to this. Well, 15 years ago, I remember a post about the and I also did one myself about the resurgence of the editor. Like we used to, that’s how writing professional writing happened. There was writers, and there was editors, it was never the idea that something would just go from your pen at the time out to the world didn’t happen. There was a process. And then with the rise of desktop publishing, and you know, grammar checkers and spellcheck, and so we company started going. So can we fire these guys? Always like there was kind of a call of the editing function. And the we wanted to get more and more the thing where, you know, whomever could write the words in and send them out. But now I think we’re coming back to this idea that no, if we want consistency, if we want scalability, if we want, then the underpinnings of omnichannel, which are those two things, scalability is this consistency, then we need to have somebody who is, you know, a, yeah, there, you can call them a single point of a validation and call them a bottleneck, but somebody who is able to put some consistency on this and help other people get from their, you know, 1.0, or their Beta of their words to where it should be.
Scott Kubie 40:50
Yeah, absolutely. You know, and understanding to that, even within what we think of collectively your mate perhaps colloquially as writing that, that’s, that’s a lot of things, right, some people, I mean, I think like Hollywood movies are like, you know, these all these big blockbusters and the Iron Man’s and Marvel movies that are maybe a good analog for this, where there’s, you know, you’ve got people who are working, that are sort of like developed a whole universe, right? And they’re thinking about, like, how does this whole series of films and all the cartoons and toys and everything fit together? And those those what I find very enviable jobs that people who are in charge of canon, you know, for Lucasfilm, or Star Trek are similar. You know, so there’s, there’s sort of like universe minded, folks, there are people who are going to be really good writers who like can develop a really good story. I’m a big fan of the author, Stephen King, because I love his stories. And I’ll love to you Mr. King, like I his dialogue is painful to me. Like he, you know, I would not want him writing the screenplay, because I don’t think the man understands how human beings speak to each other. That’s my Stephen King rant. But you know, but But I read almost everything he writes, because I love his stories. And some people writer and have different aptitudes and skill sets, a lot of designers are really good, I find actually at what we think of as UX writing, like microcopy, and call to action stuff, because they pay a lot of attention to it. That’s what they’re in all the time, there may be noticing and seeing more trends and examples than I do. So I love when designers are bringing that kind of stuff into the room. And in my own work. I know I have to pair with QA folks, or people who are a little more persnickety than me, because anyone who reads my newsletters knows that proofreading and copy editing are not really my strengths. I think I’m a pretty good writer. And I think I’m a pretty poor copy editor. Yeah. So you know, there’s a whole universe of skills there that I think a lot of organizations are just waking up to, and more power to them. I hope that gives us more flexibility. I’d love to see more editors or people with editing, light editor like responsibilities at organizations. I think that’s really wise.
Noz Urbina 43:02
Yeah. All right. So we’re coming up on time I was we’re kind of synthesize all this together a little bit with one last kind of topic, which is, when I am coming in as a content strategist or content modeler to do domain models, journey maps, that kind of thing, I often find that the UX research is very design focused. So they they are not really exploring what the informational needs are of these people. So there and there’s kind of a desire to get as quickly to wireframes or designs, like from a visual or structural perspective as we can. But looking at the kind of informational questions or conceptual needs of these people, I often find that that’s kind of a gap in the research that I’m being presented. Are you seeing that? How do you see that? Do you see that improving? What’s been your experience in that area? Because I’m finding a big gap. While we often have to do UX research 2.0 for content to get the stuff that we need?
Scott Kubie 44:06
Yeah, yeah, I see that a lot as well. I’m sure you’ve encountered this, but there’s, there’s sort of the, the the perennial can lean this for like historical reasons, because of like resourcing and aptitude. Right? It’s like sometimes it’s like, well, you know, there’s the the consulting bingo card one about, you know, the man loses his keys and he’s, he’s looking for him under a streetlight, and somebody asks him, Where did you lose them? And he’s like, Well, I lost him over there. It’s like, while you’re looking at it from here, it’s like, well, that’s where the light is, right? So we’re looking, we were just like doing things because like, I don’t know, this is what we’re capable of doing and Godspeed people who are just like trying to keep their jobs and doing what they’re capable of doing. But when you work, you know, when you’re trying to be more strategic about things. What I have found is very often this isn’t the only cause by far but I think the most common cause of that gap of like not really understanding user needs of not having a lot of content or information need research is that we have very segment based thinking at best, at worst, we have like a demographic or like very, you know, just very rough cuts of thinking about our audience of like, well, we have we have, you know, we’ve got a two sided marketplace, we’ve got buyers and sellers, buyers and sellers, we’ve got buyer needs, we got seller needs, oh my goodness, like if you have a marketplace of any size, how many different kinds of sellers do you have. And if we dig a little bit more into that, you may find you probably will find if it comes to things like accounts, logins, all kinds of support topics. There are information needs that are shared by your two audiences that you or five audiences that you think are so so, so different. And that’s where we get weird, duplicative content, and forked experiences and repetition. And I don’t know if anyone if anyone has been on the internet long enough has had this experience, where you solve a problem by reading a guide. That was like not really written for you. It was for like someone else or a different topic or even a different piece of software. But it was like, close enough. They got you through it. Yeah. So I let the lien priority. And I learned this one from from brain traffic and getting to work with Kristina Halvorson and Megan Casey, I don’t know who popularized this within brain traffic. But I learned the technique there of rather than persona based design, we do prioritized audiences. So pretty common one for content strategists now. But the way that I help organizations,
Noz Urbina 46:38
let’s let’s distinguish those disambiguate those personas versus prioritize audience. So what is a prioritize audience that a persona isn’t?
Scott Kubie 46:45
Yeah, so a prioritized audience? The way I tend to define it as like, whom are we serving with? You know, like whose needs are we meeting, which is a little different than a persona, like a persona drives a lot of customer journey maps and experience designs. And I think a persona gives us a lot of potentially a lot of creative depth. It’s like having a good improv partner. So you have a lot of details about this archetypical person who represents in theory, and to connect the two together is perhaps a member of one of these priority audiences. And people miss with personas just to help us understand what they are, you really have to pair them with a scenario. So we have this kind of person in this kind of situation persona scenario. Now we can design for that person in this situation. So it’s a lensing tool. I look at prioritized audiences, we’re up several more levels, which is sort of like for this channel. Usually, it’s at the channel level, and the channel could be a big one. It could be the main.com.org.edu. Website. Who are who is who are the who is the prime channel? Who are some secondary audiences that we absolutely need to support. So like, operationally, it’s like, what’s our charge? What’s our mission, we have to support these people, we are prioritizing them. We’re definitely seeing these people. And these tertiary audiences. And the framework that I use are people who can, we’re not prioritizing, but whose information needs we also have to meet. So that could be media, journalists, investors, regulators, anybody that you’re not like, whatever. So typically, when I’m explaining prioritised audiences, the primary audience for an organization is the editorial you. So if I say hello, we’re so happy you’re here. Who’s the who’s the you, your website? You know, that’s the crude, happy talk. So don’t do that. But if your website said, Hello, we’re so happy you’re here. Who is the you? The website is easier to use and understand if you have a clear, specific answer to that question. Know your audience know your audience. And what a lot of folks miss is, and what executives are nervous about is they think that if they have too specific of a you, they’re going to turn everybody else off, and that people in the secondary audiences and other folks aren’t going to want to use it. The opposite is true. If you have a clear editorial voice speaking to one kind of person, it is easier for everyone on planet Earth to use the website, because the information is going to be clear, you’re not going to have these weird articles that are like if you’re this kind of person do this. If you’re that kind of person do this. You answer it very clearly and specifically. So a lot of organizations don’t like to make that choice, but it is also what is wrong with their websites. So really quick, membership organizations. That’s a really big one, for content, strategists, associations, and so on. You ask anyone who who is the most important person to them. It’s the members, of course our members, we love our members. That’s where all the money comes from. Yes. Great. Operationally, as an organization, that is the answer. As a website strategy team, I’m almost certain that that is not the right answer for the primary audience for your website. It’s going to be something like prospective members or professional members of the industry that you’re serving. Again, right? So you have to decide for this thing to work really well who is the primary audience? What are some secondary audiences such as members members, we have a door for you right over here, secondary audience, and so on. So that kind of work within those audiences, you can have any number of personas, you can have people that move between those groups, right? You could be you have professional needs from the membership association, you have membership needs from the Association, that tends to not get captured well in a persona, in my experience, right?
Noz Urbina 50:30
Yeah, so we call that stakeholder ecosystems. So I mentioned them earlier. So before you get into the details of the personas, you’re kind of you’re, you’re just your persona is at the highest level are getting mapped out. So these people have these needs. And this is how they relate to each other. So this person comes in, and they’re head of a buying committee, you know, and this other person’s member by committee, and this person is just consulted by the by committee tell you all that all these different kinds of high level roles and relationships, then you can get into your personas them and their scenarios and journeys. So yeah, it’s I find this fascinating, because we know always speaking to different strategists in the field, and we have the like, us, us who talk works good. As a job, we we have all these different terminology for the same stuff. So a lot of that a lot of these conversations is forget Oh, is that what you call it? Yeah. Okay. So thank you so much. I think this is really interesting. I’m really looking forward to getting this out there and getting some feedback from communities. Is there any place that people should reach out to get in touch with you? Yes,
Scott Kubie 51:35
I have a website that is kubie.co. Old projects, you can still read about any content strategy, I rise online, I’ve got my book linked there writing for designers, which is about a little bit of what you and I talked about, of just helping designers feel more comfortable being part of writing projects. And I love to get questions from random people who have seen me on podcasts and similar. So if you’re curious about something, so let me know. Be happy to talk. Awesome.
Noz Urbina 52:04
Thank you so much, Scott. Yeah. Thanks
Scott Kubie 52:05
for having me. That was really fun.
Noz Urbina 52:07
Just recording stopped. Okay. Awesome. So I’m going to I that that’s great. That went really well. So I’m going to kind of pull I think so. key bits for the intro there. So we didn’t talk about this concept content ecosystem mapping, which is pre work for the other stuff. domain modeling content modeling. Yeah,
Scott Kubie 52:43
I think that’s a good way to, to
Noz Urbina 52:45
Yeah. mapping out the concepts. But I’m also gonna say entities because you’re like, when you’re, when you say concepts. I think a lot of people will think about it as like ontology concepts, like, like you were mapping categories, which you are, and you aren’t, because you are, but you’re also including things like people and channels. Sure, et cetera. So that I think that’s, I think that’s a little bit, I think it’s great. Really set your eventual modeling efforts on the right. Track. We’ve got to talk about AI. I’m gonna lose my podcast now. Okay. And then the crossover, crossovers and collaborations happening between designers and content oriented people. Yeah, all right. So okay, so yeah, I don’t think you need to hang out for that. Anything else you want me to pop in the summary?
Scott Kubie 54:03
No, I think that I think that covers it well, okay.
Noz Urbina 54:10
Scott, also lets us know where you can get his book. Writing for designers. Cool. So are you are you on a full time gig right now? Are you Are you consulting?
Scott Kubie 54:26
No doing some consulting here and there. I’ve been doing some some kind of ad hoc consulting work and also some volunteer mentoring through some startup incubators in the Northeast. So just trying to get connected to kind of build out my network but you know, doing a little of that doing a little teaching and not staying super busy. I’ve been doing a lot of like art projects and stuff. So let’s cancel.
Noz Urbina 54:51
We should talk because I you know, I think we work based on on a contractor, Contractor Network, and I’ve been should know, because I actually had a particular client in mind when you’re talking, who has this, they came in and was like, we’ve got four audiences, and our website’s fucking beige. Because every single page is like, four quadrants. You’re like, which one? Are you? Which one, you know. And so, I think that would be a might be a very interesting one to get you involved in.
Scott Kubie 55:20
Yeah, you know, there’s always if you just want to, you know, talk to me and offer it as a as an add on for them, or if they want to get a taste test. I mean, you know, I like ecosystem mapping is like kind of a, you know, more involved discovery project. But there’s also like a 90 minute workshop, like let’s version of it to like, let’s get this. Let’s do a little bit of this just to get unstuck and see where we want to take it next. And if we can do this remotely, right? Oh, yeah, I do it all in mirror. Now. Even when I’m in the room, I do it. Like digital with
Noz Urbina 55:51
a digital board. Yeah. Yeah. So how much were those customers?
Scott Kubie 55:55
Um, I don’t know. I you know, I haven’t really priced out the afternoon ones. But I mean, usually I’m talking like 2500. And for something like that.
Noz Urbina 56:07
Yeah, that sounds great. Well. Discovery. Yeah, awesome. Because I got somebody who I really like, but I find he jumps in to the to the, you know, let’s, alright, marketers, let’s put together all your great ideas. Without with that, and then retrospectively says, okay, so how are we going to talk to who and about this taking this forward? I’m like, That’s the back to front. So I think I think having that kind of fed as an input, because nobody knows what the fuck anything else, every organization would go in. So we will How Did This Get Made? No, no, somebody sent me this. And I copy and paste from it. And I make my stuff. Yeah, so I really like this concept. And I. Yeah, how are you finding the market? I’m finding it awful these
Scott Kubie 57:02
days. Bad. Yeah. Bad. Mostly. So
Noz Urbina 57:05
yeah. Everybody’s just like, everyone’s interested. Lots less people talking, asking questions, but nobody wants to sign any fucking checks.
Scott Kubie 57:12
Yeah, I even have, I’m finding that people are learning that they don’t have the money that they thought they did to like, I’ll start talking to someone. They’re like, Oh, yeah, we’ve got x for this. And I’m like, you know, just do a 20 minute business development call. I say cool. I’m like, let me just write up sort of the outline for you. I sent over the email, some estimates and they come back and like, oh, so yeah, so it turns out, we don’t have that budget for this or that budget for this, but I’m still kind of working on some other money for this. So I’ll get back to you. And
Noz Urbina 57:40
yeah, it’s people getting reordered budgets getting pulled. Everyone’s being told that yeah, it’s it’s a shitty market right now. And it’s tough to
Scott Kubie 57:47
because then, you know, the, my backup had been, you know, when before the huge layoffs are like I would get a lot of people paying their own way to take training workshops. But a lot of that has dried up now too, because they just don’t really want to ask, you want to ask your spouse for $900 to take a workshop for something that you may or may not be able to get a job in like I get it. It’s tough. So yeah,
Noz Urbina 58:13
totally. All right. Thanks for having me on, man. It was a pleasure. Yeah. And then I will try to be in touch about this. I’ll get you like a one of our senator agreements and an NDA and stuff like that.
Scott Kubie 58:23
Love it. Awesome. All right. Hey, just right.