This is a review of the online course Foundations of UX: Content Strategy by Patrick Nichols.
- Course Name: Foundations of UX: Content Strategy
- Author: Patrick Nichols
- Hosted by: lynda.com
- Length: 25 lectures (46 minutes of video content)
- Intended Audience: Anyone interested in the role that content plays in an holistic web strategy, and how to best organise and utilise it.
- What You’ll Learn: How to construct meaningful content and measure how successful your site is after launch.
- Assumed Knowledge: A basic knowledge of web design and UX concepts. A beginner would still gain some useful knowledge, but might be confused by some of the jargon.
- Price: US $25 per month for membership to lynda.com.
That old cliche about not judging a book by it’s cover sprang to mind as soon as I hit play on this course. In this particular case, my first impression was underwhelming. It had nothing to do with the presenter or the topic, and everything to do with the slides. They are, to be blunt, monotonous. Taking a UX course on lynda.com evokes the feeling of deja vu, because they all tend to employ the live sketch-noting style of slide creation.
That being said, I recommend persevering because this course does contain some hidden gems of wisdom and some very handy tips and pointers.
I did feel that the same-sameness of the slides bled over slightly into the general presentation. The presenter’s voice lacks inflection (except, ironically, in the two sentences when he is specifically talking about his voice and how recognisable it is) and at no point does he appear on screen – the entire course is delivered as a voice over.
The course is broken up into very short video lectures of no more than a couple of minutes each, which is masterful, as the jargon-heavy prose would be a bit hard to digest if that were not the case. I think this course would benefit greatly from pausing every now and then for a few questions or quick pop quizzes, or at the very least, periodic recaps to ensure a good level of ongoing comprehension.
What this course does particularly well is lead the viewer step-by-step through the process of designing and executing a content strategy and then analysing the results. Good descriptions are given of tools and techniques, and their applications in real life cases are demonstrated. Towards the end of the course, exercise files are introduced along with demonstrations of how they are used and can be applied to different projects.
I would have liked to have seen an example exercise introduced at the beginning and woven throughout the course as I think it would have given each of the steps more context.
According to his Lynda.com bio, Patrick Nichols is a content strategist and communications professional with 15 years of experience working on some of the world’s biggest brands. Currently, he is focused on channel content strategy at virtualization pioneer VMware.
Previously, he was a content strategist at Razorfish, an Ad Age top-10 digital agency, and at AMD. Patrick lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and two children.
Making Notes Look Pretty
I’ve always envied talented sketch-noters for their ability to make rapidly scribbled brain dumps looks like works of art. For the very same reason I am really impressed with Lynda.com’s new note taking facility. Although still in beta, it allows the viewer to take ongoing notes which are annotated with the point at which they were made in the video, along with a cute little diagram with thumbnails. Yup, I’m a sucker for a picture.
- Plenty of handy tips and pointers are delivered throughout the course;
- A useful collection of exercise files are provided and can be modified for use in real projects;
- Videos are short and concise; and
- Some excellent resources are provided to assist in taking the next steps on conclusion of the course.
- The slides tend to be a little monotonous;
- There is a lot of information communicated with no breaks to recap or check comprehension; and
- A test case or exercise woven throughout the course would help with understanding the application of techniques.
This course definitely has merit but needs to be consumed after a couple of coffees. If you let your attention wander, which it may well do given the lack of variation in content and tone, you’ll likely miss some very valuable tips. The content is solid, but the presentation is lacking. Patrick delivers a wealth of information and well explained techniques, but I frequently found myself feeling like I was reaching a point of content overload.
- Content (how useful, up to date, practical, and comprehensive): 8/10
- Delivery (presentation style, pace, clarity, authority): 5/10
- Production (video quality, audio quality, editing): 7/10
- Overall rating: 7/10
- Using the exercise files
- What is Content Strategy?
- What is content strategy?
- Evolution of content strategy
- Exploring the future of content strategy
- Setting the right expectations
- Building Blocks
- Understanding tone and voice
- Shaping the tone
- Defining style
- Getting Started
- Content auditing
- Identifying gaps
- Defining your audience
- Developing personas
- Understanding your stakeholders
- Working with influencers
- Tools of the Trade
- Creating style guides
- Working with wireframes
- Developing a content matrix
- Using copy decks
- Achieving Success
- Measuring results
- Managing content
- Advocating for users
- Sharing best practices
- Next steps
Foundations of UX: Content Strategy is hosted at lynda.com. Note: This post contains affiliate links, so if you do decide to enrol in the course, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale, to help pay the hosting bills.