Web Content Strategy II: Clearing the Rubble
By: Daniel Jeffers - Search Engine Optimization - 2013
Emptiness the starting point. — In order to taste my cup of water you must first empty your cup. My friend, drop all your preconceived and fixed ideas and be neutral. Do you know why this cup is useful? Because it is empty.
-Bruce Lee (Striking Thoughts, 2000)
Our brains are less tolerant than nature when it comes to vacuums. If we run across a vaguely defined stage in a project, say “web content strategy,” we fill that vagueness with whatever we can. We look at existing content, notes from brainstorming sessions, maybe just flat out copy someone else. Then we call it “done” because we want to move onto the next stage—a stage that seems better defined and one where we at least know whom to hire.
Imagine you’re building a home. You’re ready to start with the flooring, run the wires, begin framing the walls—but for some reason you didn’t put anything in the budget for the foundation. You take a look at the lot, and the ground is full of broken concrete, sand, and old construction scrap. You know it isn’t a real foundation, but decide to go ahead and start building on top of it. You’ll maybe cover it in some wet concrete; good enough for now.
In the Navy we often said there’s nothing more permanent than a temporary fix. Once you’ve built on top of something, that something becomes your foundation, like it or not.
Still, we look at that pile of rubble and scrap and think “we have something, don’t we? Foundations are made out of concrete, and that’s concrete. Maybe we just move it around a bit. Right?”
The first thing we need to do is clear away that rubble.
This can be difficult. We’re attached to that rubble, and we don’t want to let it go without a fight.
All of that goes back to Bruce Lee’s point.
You cannot fill a cup with new knowledge unless that cup is empty. Building a web content strategy starts with setting aside the whole mish-mash of ideas, existing content, and previous efforts. It may be that some of that will be useful, but we have to start our process free of any commitment to it.