While on an inter-city train ride earlier this week, I was reflecting on the various content strategies that a website or web application can adopt in populating a site/app. I realised that there are basically 3 major content strategies that almost all websites adopt. They are as follow:

a) Content Creation
b) Content Aggregation
c) Content Curation
- In-House
- Crowd-Sourced

I would say that almost any sort of web business will adopt one or more of the above 3 content strategies in generating content used in populating the website/web application.

This may seem obvious or intuitive to many but I feel that thinking about content strategy under the above umbrella categories help one to consider all aspects of content creation for a website/web app.

Websites with content creation strategies are usually media-type websites. Examples include websites like The Guardian, The Economist, College Humor, Khan Academy, Udacity, Tech Crunch and almost all blogs, magazines and newspaper websites. The content are exclusively created in-house by editorial teams and are original and high-quality. The big disadvantage of such a model is that it has a high-cost and its content quantity is not scalable at a low cost.

Websites with content aggregation strategies are technology-heavy websites such as Google. It aggregates the web to search for answers that match the queries. Google indexes news websites in its News section by aggregating news stories automatically from media-type websites above. Other type of websites with such strategies include hotel, travel, flight and price comparison websites such as booking.com, hostelworld.com, hipmunk.com, moneysupermarket.com, Expedia, Kayak etc. Websites like these rely heavily on having the best search algorithm and have a huge amount of content quantity and is scalable at low costs. The disadvantages include having no community and lower content quality due to aggregator algorithm.

The last content strategy for websites is content curation and I divide this into 2 sub-categories: in-house content curation and crowd-sourced content curation.

Examples of websites with crowd-sourced curated content include websites that make heavy use of user-generated/curated content such as Pinterest, 9Gag, TripAdvisor, Wikipedia, Huffington Post, Codecademy, Reddit, Memrise. These websites usually do not have editorial teams to control content and uses the community to keep things under control. The advantages of getting users to create/curate the content is that it keeps costs low and makes it highly scalable. There is a community around it to help drive growth too. The hardest thing to build a loyal community.

Websites with an editorial team with good taste may curate content from the Internet seeing how there is lots of high-quality content out there. This is usually seen in the Recommended section of websites such as YouTube, Tumblr etc.

I find that many websites do not rely exclusively on one content strategy in populating the website but uses different strategies for different features of the website. However, many rely heavily on one content strategy to play a major role in its main feature.

I hope you find this post useful in helping you think about your website content strategy the next time you are planning to build a website/web app. Separating things up like this definitely helped me look at things clearer when I have too many ideas swimming around in my head planning for a web app recently.