The problem: No one could find a thing. To solve it, we set out to define areas of knowledge relevant to Intuit, and deliver a strategic capability that introduced a completely new central taxonomy with a mix of services.

Abstract shapes extending across mobile screens like taxonomy
Abstract shapes extending across mobile screens like taxonomy

Set objectives

  • Improve findability and discoverability via navigation and search
  • Consistent content, experienced across multiple channels, devices, etc.
  • Improve targeting of content
  • Common terminology available across all Intuit brands in finance, tax and accounting domains: Mint, TurboTax, QuickBooks and ProConnect
  • Improve content analytics

Define the approach

First we aligned on how to build the taxonomy. After analyzing use cases, we started by designing…

Every content strategist knows these signs. They tell us when an expert didn’t design our content architecture. And tell us there’s more fun to come.

1. The team describes your content architecture as XML over NoSQL

Content architecture isn’t specific to technologies or vendors like Adobe or projects like WordPress. In fact, that’s like missing the point. Content architects design it independently from technologies and express it through them.

2. Folders and file paths are your taxonomy

Content architects know the way you store content is different from the way you organize it. You can’t adequately tag or connect pieces of content by their folder names and paths. They aren’t meaningful to people or the context of an experience.

3. You have a node called content and a node called text

When there’s not enough distinction between concepts, it’s like throwing your content into a dumpster of ambiguity. A single category should capture similar…

Photo of GenderCool Champions visiting the Intuit office
Photo of GenderCool Champions visiting the Intuit office
GenderCool Champions at Intuit’s first Trans Summit

We often talk about creating workplaces that welcome everyone, a dynamic that’s deeply important to me. I also believe that most people, including myself, don’t have a clear road map for how to make this happen.

Here’s what I do know. Creating an inclusive work environment is a daily, intentional act. And if I really believed that inclusion was an imperative for me, my team and my company, it was time for me to step into someone else’s shoes.

The GenderCool Project

Recently, I mentored a high school student through a rotation with The GenderCool Project, a youth-led movement that’s helping the world…

Picture of a dinosaur, representing evolution in a fun way
Picture of a dinosaur, representing evolution in a fun way

Style guides have a long history in the writing process. They’ve always affected more than what counts as good content. They affected our writing process and behaviors, our sense of community, even our egos. As AI pushes the style guide another step, how will it push us along too?

Stacking style manuals

The early style guides came in the form of manuscripts and books, mainly out of academia and journalism. They were made for print, in print.

Usually I’d cringe to write sentences full of “do this” and “do that” imperatives. Here’s an exception: a process for writing articles. It’s a faster, easier way than what’s taught. I’ve used it to publish LinkedIn and Medium articles about my work without making it my job.

A different way of writing

The traditional way of writing slowed me down or stumped me before I could start. I’d try to imagine a completed article upfront, as if it would emerge with rainbows and sunbeams, then figure it out in my head before writing. Which never happened. …

Your work concerns words. Why not concern yourself with natural language processing (NLP)? Many features include NLP in the products we both use and make. As it expands further into content, we should consider it one of our content strategy tools rather than a mystery.

A content strategist is posing and flexing her bicep, looking strong
A content strategist is posing and flexing her bicep, looking strong

As content strategists, we have to stretch outside what’s expected of us, especially in the realm of product where we can be outnumbered by design, product management and engineering. How can we have more strategic impact?

Even with the good fortune of working alongside amazing teams, I always felt like my closest partners were my biggest hurdles. Why? Simply because I was limited by their unclear or fixed or pre-defined view of what content strategists do. Typically that view’s based on that one group’s needs for content within a larger set they may not have insight to.

If that underutilizes…

Start talking about systems and it hits some people like a dose of cold medicine. Besides having little visual interest, there’s an idea that systems are the enemy of creativity. And if you’re a creative person, an enemy of yours. Systems really aren’t though.

Systems design in content strategy

To start off, let’s grab a working definition of systems in the content strategy field. Within Brain Traffic’s content strategy quad, structure and process are the two parts of systems design.

Systems design is the process of defining the architecture, modules, interfaces, and data for a system to satisfy specified requirements. We’re interested in creating repeatable systems — both for machines and for people…

—Kristina Halvorson

No arguments. It’s just pretty tied up with content management systems (another enemy, hehe).

Cheers to Brain Traffic for launching the ship. The content strategy quad provides a model for operationalizing and managing content…

One of the most important aspects of content strategy and being a content strategist is how you think about being one. Mentalities are cognitive frames for understanding the world, as values and norms that organize reactions and responses — a signature form of consciousness that seeds behavior.

Mentality and knowledge are two realms. You can take classes and complete projects to acquire knowledge: the facts of a domain, skills and experience.

Mentality is a mindset. It will help you succeed in content strategy. The coolest part is that you influence yours into being.

The bounds of content strategy

Being a content strategist means being strategic…

Remember the first time you recorded your voice and played it back? I cringed, “That’s how I sound?” My voice sounded so different listening to it than it did in my own head speaking.

Does a similar phenomenon happen when users hear a brand’s voice that’s crafted by your internal team of writers? How is it heard? Is there a gap?

Giving voice to brand attributes

With brand personality or voice, we have the task of expressing a set of attributes. Our job is to bring the attributes to life through the language in a digital experience and connect with users.

To craft an expression…

Jennifer Schmich

🌈 content strategy & systems

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