Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Content Strategists and IAs

As a content strategist I'm not ashamed to admit that I have a lot of information architect friends. A lot. There, it's out there. Now everyone knows.

So when we are talking about what they do on a project vs. what I do on a project, we tend to run into a lot of potential overlap. I often hear, "I don't see why a good IA couldn't do that." And I agree, but why the heck would you want one to? It's just not a good way to run a business.

Here are 4 reasons why an IA shouldn't be asked to work on content strategy tasks:
  • IAs are too busy already. In almost every project that I've worked, the IA was on the critical path. Giving them more to do would just extend the project duration.
  • There are not enough IAs to go around in many organizations. In many organizations the number of projects they can take on is constrained by the number of IAs they have on staff, or that they can supervise as contractors. So it makes more sense to move your IA resources on and off projects as quickly as possible. Don't slow down the process with content work that could be done by others. Go do more projects.
  • IAs are expensive. If a job can be done equally well by an IA or content strategist and the IA cost 30% more, you can increase the project's profit or decrease the project cost by using a content strategist.
  • IAs generally don't want to do this kind of work anyway. Sure, there are more than a few IAs with literature or library science backgrounds, but they are designers at heart and by training. I don't know any IAs who wake up the morning looking forward to building new CMS inputs forms, or researching and writing content for 2000 product pages that are all built using the same wireframe.
The last point is where most of these discussions actually end. After I explain what I do on a daily basis we almost always end with:

"Whoa, I'm just sayin' that I could do it, I'm not sayin'
that I actually want to!"

It's funny that not too long ago I was asked if I could produce wireframes for a content-only project. Hmmm. Maybe there are some IA tasks that a good content strategist could do. I'm just saying that I could, I'm not saying that I want to! Wink.

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