Interview with Shannon O'Malley of Kalamuna

3 tips for writing copy for your website

Hello World inked on bread
Image credits : 
Photo by Windell Oskay, modified by Jen Wike Huger

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Shannon O'Malley will give a talk at DrupalCon 2015 called: Making Content Strategic before "Content Strategy" Happens.

If you've ever used Drupal for creating content, you may understand that coming up with compelling messaging and writing it all down in a format that someone else wants to read is... well, challenging. For some, it can come naturally, especially given time and experience. For others, it's a bother, a bore, and downright irriatating.

Shannon O'Malley headshotThat's where Shannon steps in. In her talk at DrupalCon, she'll share tips for developers and content writers alike for creating messaging that drives action. Because it shouldn't be a struggle, but it should drive action. If it doesn't make people do something when they read it, you're likely just spinning wheels.

In my interview with her prior to her talk at DrupalCon in Los Angeles on May 11 - 15, I asked Shannon a little bit about herself and her job—plus, she answers what web developers don't understand about strategic messaging and content strategy, and some tips to help.

How does marketing intersect with technology?

Technology and the web are tools that can deliver meanings (or, "content"). If you prioritize medium over message, you end up with a flawed message.

What is content strategy and why does it matter?

At Kalamuna, I work with a certain kind of client—one whose messages we are interested in conveying. Technology and the web are just conduits. Most of us didn't get into tech because we were just into it—we were looking for ways to communicate messages we thought were important, whether those were about art, activism, civic issues, etc.

We built our tech and dev chops because we are interested in delivering  the message. We're not into technology for technology's sake.

Kalamuna is a small firm, so I wear many hats. For our client work, I do content strategy, but that often bleeds into figuring out business strategy and marketing strategy problems. So, on any given day, I am evaluating user research, creating a site map, meeting with a designer to review moodboards—things like that. I also handle Kalamuna's brand strategy and much of our company communications. Daily, this might mean managing our social media channels, collaborating on a proposal for a new service offering, reviewing designs for a Kalamuna landing page, etc.

What do web developers NOT get about strategic message generation and content strategy?

I am fortunate to work with some really smart people. Our people with dev backgrounds are open to my experience and expertise, and I am open to learning about what they know. This isn't always the case in a communications agency. In the past I have worked with developers who seem myopic—they might not get how something as "small" as a button relates to the message—that everything is message. Even the way a user interacts with a navigation bar or a set of checkboxes ladders back up to a communications goal.

Do you have tips for writing copy for a website?

  1. Think about your competition, then think about who you are and what your main differentiator or "value proposition" is.
  2. Don't look or sound like anyone else.
  3. Ask your audiences about what they want from you.

Do you code?

I am an intermediate HTML coder. But most importantly, I've picked up different ways of thinking just by working with developers every day. I think it's totally fine to not learn to code. Everyone has their specialties.

What's great about open source?

I like how open source uses people's competitive instincts to give things to others for free. There is a prestige in being generous with your knowledge—I like that.

DrupalCon 2015
Speaker Interview

This article is part of the Speaker Interview Series for DrupalCon 2015. DrupalCon 2015 brings together thousands of people from across the globe who use, develop, design, and support the Drupal platform. It takes place in Los Angeles, California on May 11 - 15, 2015.

About the author

Jen Wike Huger - Jen Wike Huger is the Community Manager for Catch her at the next open source virtual event, or ping her on Twitter. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.