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Mike Madison Senior Strategist
January 31, 2024

​ A Holistic Approach to Content and Beyond

At Chapter Three, we focus on building beautifully designed and developed websites that make our clients happy, deliver information efficiently, and are sustainable over the long-term.

Because a fantastic end product starts at the beginning, we guide our clients through a collaborative, strategic assessment of vision, goals, technical features, and, of course, content. We start with a wide funnel, where broad statements then get defined, refined, and made into actionable design and development tasks. So, ultimately, Strategy at Chapter Three works to answer these two important questions: “What Do You Have to Say and How Will You Say It?

A Guided Walk-Through of Strategy at Chapter Three

Project Kick-off and Planning

Let’s get started! During  Kick-off and Planning, we review the teams and collaboration logistics, draft a project schedule, and dive into the project’s background so we’re up to speed on the "why" before we get started on the "how". We define roles and responsibilities and build an operational matrix (RACI) around core team members and other key stakeholders who will inform the project’s strategic and intellectual context.

​Goals & Tactics

We use a Strategy Questionnaire to understand the project’s motivations, goals, and success measures. Next, we conduct follow-on workshops to flesh out and confirm these goals, supplement them with actionable tasks, and allocate team resources -- all to ensure that what we build is beautiful, well thought out, and sustainable.

Features & Functions

In these workshops, we collaborate to define and prioritize the features and functions that are integral to the success of the project. This initial understanding helps us inform the project’s designers and developers on the relative importance of each feature as we move through design and into development. It also helps ensure that we use budget and resources as smartly and effectively as we can. Articulating how features and functions will support project goals allows us to tie what we build to the success measures we defined previously.

Chapter Three Strategy Process Funnel

Content Strategy & UX Research

In this phase, we develop page-level templates using simple models that emphasize content and actions, and are devoid of design, so we can focus on information first. A critical step in the layout and design process, these templates illustrate what you want users to understand and what you want them to do on each page.

Simultaneously, we begin the audience and stakeholder research that will inform future usability testing. We create and refine user personas that help identify interview subjects, and guide your team regarding their recruitment. We also develop scripts for these interviews, using surveys for additional data gathering. We'll discuss available resources for creating and managing content and help you to develop an appropriate editorial plan for the web.

During this step we also work together to develop taxonomies that categorize and connect content; these are important to help users navigate and refine content exploration and to optimize search visibility (SEO).

Search and SEO

Search is a critical driver of traffic to your site, especially new traffic. Well-defined content, including structured content types and taxonomies, help search engines like Google and Bing deliver the most relevant results possible. This attention to detail also allows us to build robust  internal site search and sorting interfaces, helping users explore content efficiently once they get to your site. 

Accessibility

Accessible websites are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them, and accessibility is built into our process. During Strategy, we define the accessibility standards for the project and then use the associated requirements throughout content strategy, graphic design, and web development. For most projects, we work with WCAG 2.x AA accessibility standards. These standards include clear content hierarchies, labels, image alt text, video and audio controls, and design standards related to color, opacity, photography and more. Learn more about the latest accessibility standards and their importance to your projects in our blog post about WCAG 2.2

Information Architecture

Once we've developed your content and editorial strategy, we’ll develop the navigation pathways and create a sitemap. This sitemap outlines page types, hierarchies, and naming conventions, and identifies taxonomies and where they’re used. Depending on the scope of the project and the underlying structure of your content, this will be either a modest rework or a comprehensive rethinking of your site’s structure.

At this stage we also start the transition from strategy into design with the creation of wireframes for all key templates for the site, including the homepage, major site sections and any other needed layouts. 

Curious About How We Do Design?

At this point, we’re now ready to use all that we’ve gathered in the strategy funnel into informing a beautiful, effective design. Please read Kirsten's post on our visual design process for a great look behind the scenes and in front (the results)!