Years ago, I blared on a blog that I didn’t write Web copy to fill enclosed spaces carved out by designers. “I don’t do buckets,” I insisted. “I work with designers to create smooth, easy experiences for users. I try to be constantly aware of the user’s needs and perceptions. Where did she come from? Where is she going? How can my words–body text, link labels, headlines–improve her experience ? The space I work in isn’t closed; it’s not a ‘bucket’; it’s an open, fluid space where I’m engaged in one side of a warm conversation with site visitors, trying to help them find what they’re looking for and do what they want to do on the site.”
These days I still frequent that space in most of my Web work, although now, because I’m still trying to get involved as early as possible with editorial strategy and messaging, before page lay-out is finalized and a site’s ‘look and feel ’is codified, I call myself a “content strategist.” Or rather that’s what my clients starting calling me a few years back, when “content strategy” finally emerged as a new, recognized, useful discipline in the constantly evolving, free-wheeling world of Web development. I’m still a tad self conscious about it—it sounds like a pompous way of saying “editor”—but it basically works; to me it says that, after all these years, I still don’t do buckets.