At the end of last year, I tried to predict content strategy trends for 2011. One of them was mobile content strategy, and there’s no doubt that this has come true. Jakob Nielsen has been writing about mobile and in Chicago, the Web Content Conference will focus on mobile and content (June 6 - 7, 2011).

The Challenge of Mobile Content Strategy

Mobile content strategy requires a whole different set of muscles when thinking about users. When we think about users for typical user persona development, we build on who they are -- their information needs, interests, what they care about. However, when we’re developing a mobile content strategy we have to rejigger that thinking because user personas are not as important as user scenarios.

User scenarios anticipate the needs of a user in a mobile situation, when their information needs might be different than in a standard, desktop situation (and by that I mean a situation where a user has a full interface and is not pressed for time). A typical user scenario would look like this:

User A is at one of our physical stores. He wants to know how much the camera that he is holding in his hand would cost online. Can he save money by buying the camera or any of the accessories online? Is it possible to use the online price in the store to negotiate for a better deal.

Every team has their own methodology for developing user profiles. They should definitely be revisited at least once a year, if not more often. If you are developing mobile content strategies then you need to adapt your user personas to user scenarios because what your users are doing when they access your content means more than anything else in the picture at that moment.

Why User Scenarios are Critical for Mobile Content Strategy

Let’s break this down. A major part of content strategy is defining your users so you can help them accomplish their tasks more easily. When you define your users and what they care about, how they might behave on a website changes when you consider their behavior in a mobile environment.

Let’s take the case of a pregnant woman who likes to hang out on a pregnancy website. She spends the majority of her time on the message boards with other women who are due around the same time she is, and she reads articles that are pertinent to her baby’s growth. These are things she does during her breaks at work.