Content Ecosystem Mapping Articles and Resources
Why content ecosystem mapping?
If your team or organization is overwhelmed by content chaos, a content ecosystem map might be just the thing. Content ecosystem maps are snapshots of your digital strategy and what the heck is going on with content in your organization: where content is coming from, high-level processes, internal and external audiences, business objectives, technology—and how it all interacts.
Content ecosystem maps help you verify assumptions, imagine new possibilities, plan activities, document vocabulary, and coordinate understanding between stakeholder groups. Perhaps most importantly, the map-making process reveals where people have different ideas about reality, giving you a chance to work out these differences before they derail your projects.
Brain Traffic Article Series
While at Brain Traffic, I wrote a series of articles on content ecosystem mapping, and helped a variety of clients in industries including higher education, financial services, travel, the arts, and publishing create their own maps.
This article series introduced many people to the idea of mapping their organization’s content ecosystems, and, more broadly, of using concept modeling and concept diagrams as a design facilitation technique.
- An Introduction to Content Ecosystem Maps
- What to Include in a Content Ecosystem Map
- How to Use a Content Ecosystem Map
- How to Plan your Content Ecosystem Mapping Project
Writing from others either about this specific technique, or just worth reading if you’re interested in this topic:
- The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them – The diagramming approach I use in content ecosystem mapping is derived in part from the concept maps first described by Joseph Novak and Alberto Cañas in an education context
- MuseWeb Case Study: Redesigning Getty.edu with Structured Content – A great write-up from the client team about reimagining their entire digital footprint, and where and how content ecosystem mapping fit into the process
- Pickle Jar Communications blog: Creating a content ecosystem map – A tidy summary
- Josh Tong: Improving a digital ecosystem through content strategy – Josh is a whip-smart practitioner and put a great case study together that includes his own approach to mapping and reimagining a content ecosystem
- Hilary Marsh: Developing your content ecosystem – Hilary makes the case for having a truly integrated content ecosystem (as opposed to islands of content in unconnected channels, which is what most organizations end up with)
- Logic Branch blog: Driving Design with a Well-defined Content Strategy – A summary of the overall process of developing a content strategy and where ecosystem mapping might land in that process
Books and other long reads
Chapter 9 of The Web Project Guide, Develop a Strategy for Your Content, addresses content ecosystem maps in the larger context of digital strategy projects like a website redesign or dot com platform consolidation.
Chapter 4 of Dan Brown’s Communicating Design is all about Concept Models, giving you both a broad overview of concept modeling in a design context, as well as useful tactical tips about producing and socializing the sorts of diagrams that concept modeling produces. (Content ecosystem mapping is a special application of concept modeling primarily focused on both understanding and reimagining your digital strategy.) Dan has published this chapter to read for free online.
I’ve led a number of talks and workshops on content ecosystem maps, and the broader technique of concept modeling for UX design. You may have seen me talk about these topics at Midwest UX, MinneWebCon, World Information Architecture Day, a number of Confab conferences, and various UX and content meetup groups and communities.
Breakout Presentation at Confab Higher Ed 2017
Here’s a deck from a presentation on this topic geared toward an audience of higher education content professionals.
The Modeled Organization — Midwest UX 2015 Workshop
I led a small workshop on organizational modeling at the 2015 edition of Midwest UX. You can view and download the deck at the link. The methodology is the same (rigid concept diagramming) but the application is more broad.
Interviews and Media
The Content Strategy Podcast
I was a guest on the third episode of Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy podcast.
Kristina talks with Scott Kubie, Lead Content Strategist at Brain Traffic, about his journey toward a career in content strategy, as well as how he’s currently using content ecosystem mapping to help his clients create connections in their content universe.
The Object-Oriented UX Podcast
I was a guest on Episode 29 of Sophia Prater’s Object-Oriented UX Podcast
[Scott is] the brain behind “Content Ecosystem Mapping,” a visual way to represent your content reality—what you have and where it is. In this episode of the podcast, Sophia and Scott discuss is-ness versus ought-ness, the rhetorical nature of creating a content ecosystem, plus how exactly one goes about making a content ecosystem map.
As a follow-up to this podcast interview, Sophia scheduled an OOUX happy hour about Content Ecosystem Mapping. That session was recorded and is available on YouTube.