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Once upon a time, a company realised the need for new Content after performing an extensive content inventory and audit. Before Content came into life, a thorough analysis concerning the requirements and the user group was done to make sure that it would be perfect and would have a long life. The creators did not want to produce Content too quickly just “to provide anything” because they feared that it would boomerang on them. They invested some time and even money in the analysis stage, understanding that only if Content was of excellent quality it would finally pay off.
After the research results of the first stage had been evaluated, the actual creation of Content was started. Only highly competent authors were included in this process and Content began to take shape. All parts of it were double-checked to ensure that Content was flawless. The use of style guides and templates helped to accomplish the mission that Content’s look and feel were consistent with his brothers and sisters in the Content community. The creators also were not in a rush during the collection stage of the lifecycle because perfection of Content was still the goal.
Once Content was ready, it entered the third phase of the lifecycle. This is the phase in which decisions about the management of content are made. Just to make sure that the workflows and standards still ensured the efficient and effective use of quality content in general, they were checked again because the creators understood that such decisions should not be made for eternity but should rather be evaluated and changed if needed from time to time.
Finally, the day of Content’s publication had come. Content was so excited because now it could serve its purpose and a variety of users would profit from using it. Content was aware that it would be under close observation from now on. On a regular basis, evaluations of its performance would take place because Content was not of that kind that is relevant for a long time and needs no maintenance. As Content itself feared that it would become obsolete due to outdated information, it was glad about the regular controls. It was looking forward to being revised, fused with other content, transformed etc. and would eventually grow to big Content. It was confident that it would live through various lifecycles because its creators really cared for it and it lived happily ever after….
…until reality sets in.
Unfortunately, Content’s story is very often only fiction. The time invested in the different stages of the lifecycle is sometimes not sufficient (not to speak of the funding) and content is created quickly by anyone anyhow. It seems to be one of the main challenges of content strategists to trigger rethinking in this respect.
Naturally, each company must develop their own content strategy. The content lifecycle provides a basic structure for the complex world of content. It can be a guideline but can never be a ready-made solution.
© The Content Lifecycle (Content Strategy by Noz Urbina, Rahel Anne Bailie, 2013)
Content’s story has a beginning and an end. However, for those managing content, the lifecycle never ends and they always have to deal with all stages simultaneously. In my experience, analysing, collecting, managing and delivering is not just a linear development but rather a multidimensional process. The different stages may also be connected in a different way as they are arranged in the lifecycle model. All these implications make working with content such a challenging experience. And maybe one day, Content’s story may become true.
 Rahel Bailie (2014, October 10) Content Lifecycle: Closing the loop in content strategy. Retrieved from (http://johnnyholland.org/2010/10/content-lifecycle-closing-the-loop-in-content-strategy/)
 Rahel Bailie: Introduction to Content Strategy: Session 1 Cos17 (PPT)
Photos: © Alexandra Wurian