This is a partial syllabus for INFO 433 at the University of Washington iSchool, Content Strategy in Information Architecture for Winter 2013.


Course description

This class is a survey of Content Strategy, a rapidly developing discipline in Information Architecture (IA). Along with the text Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach and readings from other influential content strategists and information architects, students will become familiar with the vocabulary, processes and key deliverables in the research phase of a content strategy project. Students will perform a content strategy discovery presentation for an organization; course assignments will be progressively linked over the course to create the final product and presentation.

Course Goals

  • Understand the specific role of content strategy within IA practice
  • Become familiar with how content strategy research deliverables are created and used
  • Execute key IA/Content Strategy deliverables and develop a content strategy discovery report

Learning Content Strategy through Course Project

This course centers on a quarter long content strategy for a real client.

In the course project, students will research and determine the client’s business goals and objectives, current content ecosystem and content practices, potential audiences/users, and their competitive/comparative environment. Throughout the quarter, students collect research and turn in deliverables marking their progress in the research process. The research is used to create a set of content strategy recommendations in a discovery presentation that can determine later production, design, development, and distribution of online resources.

Course Textbook

The book Content Strategy for the Web, 2nd edition, by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach is required for this course, though you may choose paperback or electronic versions.



Week 1 – Readings
First Class: What to expect in this class, Intro to Information Architecture (IA)
IA, User Experience and Content Strategy at Work

Week 2 – Readings, Assignments due: Reading Summary
IA tools, Intro to Client
Content Ecosystem, Content Inventory

Week 3 – Readings, Assignments due: Reading Summary, Content Inventory, Reading Presentations
Client visit, Stakeholder Interview, Kickoff Meeting
Goals and Gap Analysis, Student Reading Presentations

Week 4 – Readings, Assignments due: Reading Summary, Client Summary, Reading Presentations
Student Reading Presentations

Week 5 – Readings, Assignments due: Reading Summary, Persona
Content Inventory Review
Mid-term, Taxonomy

Week 6 – Readings, Assignments due: Reading Summary, Competitive Analysis
Content Structures, Search & SEO
Content Structures, Search & SEO

Week 7 – Readings, Assignments due: Reading Summary
Content Audits & Analytics
Content Audits & Analytics

Week 8 – Readings, Assignments due: Reading Summary, Content Audit
CS Deliverables, Page Description Diagrams
Workflow & Governance

Week 9 – Readings, Assignments due: Reading Summary, PDD
Putting it all together – Guest Speaker Andy Fitzgerald From Models to Interfaces
Final Presentation and Report Preparation

Week 10 – Readings, Assignments due: Reading Summary, Final Paper due
Student Presentations
Student Presentations



  1. Reading Summaries serve two purposes
  • To demonstrate your understanding of the material
  • To practice the art of brevity: writing short content with the expectation that few will read the full text

In a reading summary, you will write one summary paragraph and three bullet point “take-aways” or the most important points from the article you think someone can put to use. Try for the simplest language as if someone was just scanning the article to see if they want to read further.

2.   Reading Summary Presentations

Students will be assigned articles in the 2nd-3rd week of the course, at random, from a list. Students work in teams of 2 and have 4 slides and 4 minutes to present their summaries. For each article, emphasize

  • Who wrote the article
  • What the article is about
  • Why this is important to Content Strategy or IA Practice
  • How to apply the technique to one’s work

12 % of grade (8% reading summary, 4% presentation.)


  • Content Inventory
  • Client Summary/Business Goals
  • Persona Audience/User Analysis (individual/team)
  • Competitive Audit
  • Content Audit
  • Website Page Description Diagram

Final Project Summary

This course centers on creating a content strategy discovery report for a section of a nonprofit organization’s online presence. Over the course, you will become familiar with the organization’s goals, audience (users), content and competitive/comparative landscape. You will use your research in these areas to recommend a strategy including recommendations for adding, revising and optimizing content, and displaying content. You will execute main deliverables, provide written analysis of research with recommendations, write an executive summary document, and finally, present part of your strategy to the class.

The final project is a team presentation and paper. In much of this course, we work in teams and many parts needed for your final project will be created in class sessions.  Individual work will contribute to team projects.

The final discovery report will include, for example,

  • Outline summarizing research results, analysis and recommendations for client (each team member will cover one of the areas below)
    • Client Goals, Personas
    • Content Inventory, Audit and SEO
    • Comparative Audit and Analysis
  • Page Description Diagrams or other work instruction sample (for example of website Home Page, About Page, etc.) (one from each team member)
  • Executive Summary of entire report (every team member turns in individual version). This will be turned in last so the student has opportunity to read classmates’ work.

Recommendations in the discovery presentation and report may include new content creation, content revision or removal, new or updated content, new or updated channels or other recommendations as determined by a student’s research.

Final Presentation of Content Strategy Report

  • Summarize your proposed strategy and recommendations in person for a non-technical audience, each student will present the portion they cover in team paper.
    • Client Goals, Personas
    • Content Inventory, Audit and SEO
    • Comparative Audit and Analysis


Week 1

  1. Cummings, Michael (2009). Information Architecture. Retrieved 23 March 2011 from
  2. What is IA. Retrieved 23 March 2011 from
  3. Davis, Nathaniel (2011). Framing the Practice of Information Architecture. Retrieved 1 December 2011 from
  4. Davis, Nathaniel (2011). The T-Model and Strategies for Hiring IA Practitioners Part 1. Retreived December 1 2012 from

Summary 1 Week 2 Due Jan 18

  1. 1.     Halvorson, Kristina and Melissa Rach (2012). Content Strategy for the Web, 2nd edition. Berkeley, CA: New Riders. Chapters 1-3  *Summary of Chapter 3 Due Jan 18

Summary 2 Week 3 Due Jan 25 Deliverable Content Inventory

  1. Halvorson & Rach, Chapter 4 – 5. *Summary of Chapter 5 Due Jan 25
  2. Halvorson, Kristina. Content Inventory is Your Friend. Retrieved Dec 1, 2012 from Brain Traffic:
  3. Veen, Jeffrey. Doing a Content Inventory (Or, A Mind-Numbingly Detailed Odyssey Through Your Web Site). Retrieved March 23 2011 from Adaptive Path:

Summary 3 Week 4 Due Feb 1 Deliverable Client Summary

  1. Halvorson & Rach, Chapter 6 *Summary Due Feb 1
  2. Wiggins, Andrea (2007). Building a data backed persona Retrieved March 23 2011 from Boxes and Arrows:
  3. Hinton, Andrew (2008). Personas and the Role of Design Documentation. Retrieved March 23 2011 from Boxes and Arrows:

Summary 4 Week 5 Due Feb 8 Deliverable Persona

  1. Withrow, Jason (2006). Competitive Analysis: Understanding the Market Context. Retrieved March 23 2011 from Boxes and Arrows: *Summary Due February 8
  2. Halvorson & Rach, Chapter 7.
  3. Fitzgerald, Andy. Competitive Analysis Sample.
  4. Hawley, Michael (2009). Differentiating Your Design: A Visual Approach to Competitive Reviews. Retrieved December 1 from UX Matters:

Summary 5 Week 6 Due Feb 15 Deliverable Competitive Audit

  1. Sweeny, Marianne (2011). Defining the Search Experience. Retrieved December 1, 2011 from from ASIS&T Bulletin: *Summary due February 15.
  2. SEO Moz Guide

Summary 6 Week 7 Due Feb 22

  1. Halvorson & Rach, Chapter 8.

Summary 7 Week 8 Due Mar 1 Deliverable Content Audit

  1. Brown, Dan (2002). Where the Wireframes Are: Special Deliverable #3. Retrieved March 23 2011 from Boxes & Arrows:
  2. 2.    Halvorson & Rach, Chapter 9.

Summary 8 Week 9 Due Mar 8 Deliverable PDD

  1. Halvorson & Rach, Chapter 10-12.
  2. Kahn, Jonathan (2011). Web Governance: Becoming an Agent of Change. Retrieved from A List Apart December 1, 2011.  Summary Due February 24

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