Tyrus Manuel

Tyrus “Ty” Manuel is an IT Specialist with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and has been passionate about digital content since at least 1994.

Shedding Light on Underserved Users through Research

How user interviews helped spotlight the needs of a previously forgotten group. We may not like to admit it, but, most web services or sites have users that (for whatever reason) just aren’t well understood—and in turn, not well served. Conducting user interviews and making sure you get good participation from those groups can help

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The Content Corner: Will You Read This Entire Post?

Deep down we’ve always known that people only read a small portion of any content shared online. In many ways that can’t be fixed but there are ways to help people read more or at least scan better. There was a book I loved as a child that featured the Sesame Street character Grover, titled

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The Content Corner: Code is a Tool, Content is the Solution

It seems of late that the focus on coding and technology within the federal space has become out of balance with that of good, solid content. As I believe I have said before with regard to user experience, great technology with poor content is still worthless. Amazing code that delivers poorly written or designed content

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The Content Corner: Social Media Metrics and the Challenge of Effective Measurement

I’ve recently been required to focus more attention on social media from a federal agency standpoint and this has directly led to a greater consideration of content. One of my first steps was to begin sharing various forms of content and gauge the success of each type. In today’s post, I’ll share what I have

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The Content Corner: Feeding the Beast with Agile Content Development

I feel as though I have ignored the beast in the room lately, and since I began my tenure on The Content Corner introducing that concept, I felt I needed to wrestle with it one last time before I depart. Previously, I discussed the concept of pair writing. Today I want to investigate how another software

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The Content Corner: How Google Judges Your Content

Every week my main goal is to usually provide new ways to help you feed the content beast. However, today I am going to remind you of why feeding the beast is important, especially when it comes to your search engine rankings and helping users find your content. I’ve discussed key search engine optimization (SEO)

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The Content Corner: Facebook Expands Access to Instant Articles

As I begin to wind down my time at The Content Corner, I have realized that one of my biggest content concerns uncovered during my tenure is digital sharecropping. The recent announcement from Facebook that they will soon open their Instant Articles publishing capability to everyone was reason enough for me to revisit the topic

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The Content Corner: Government as API

Here at DigitalGov, we generally focus on federal governmental digital efforts within the U.S. It is where we live and operate, so it makes sense, but many governments across the world struggle with the same issues and leverage technology as a common solution. When I came across an article where Australia announced its “government as

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What is Content?

In this age of content marketing that has led publications to call certain ads “paid content,” those of us in government need to broaden our ideas about what “content” is. Many of us get it, but some agencies may also be missing opportunities because they don’t even grasp that content is a broad and fluid

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The Content Corner: Location-Aware Content

While January was about looking ahead, February is focused on content and many of the new possibilities and challenges that will face us as content creators over the next year and beyond. At the intersection of these two themes lies the genesis of my topic today: location-aware content. More than a Map One of the

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The Content Corner: Four Ways to Help Your Content Stand Out

When discussing trends for 2016, I made some mention of the content overload that started in 2015 but will certainly increase in 2016. Contently recently found that organizations created 73% more content in 2015 than in 2014. I see no reason why that number will decline in 2016, especially as content becomes the beast of

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The Content Corner: Content Trends for 2016

The beginning of a new year is generally a time where people on a personal and professional level look ahead and prognosticate. When it comes to almost any digital media, the one thing we can be certain of is that the pace will quicken, the offerings will expand, and something totally unexpected will jump out

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The Content Corner: Can You Leverage Cornerstone Content?

If you have a website, then you most likely have cornerstone content—though you may not think of it in that way or even considered it. Just as in architecture, a cornerstone is a basic and essential part of any online presence. Cornerstone content is also important to any new visitors to your agency site, even if you

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The Content Corner: Is Pair Writing Right for You?

Fresh from last week’s article about workflows and their importance in the content creation process, I stumbled upon a new twist in content production known as pair writing. Many of you familiar with agile methodologies or software programming in general should know the term pair programming. Pair writing hopes to take some of the same

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The Content Corner: Work Smarter with Workflows

I noticed recently that I have spent a decent amount of time discussing or referencing content workflow, but I haven’t spent much time on how to actually create or use workflows. Developing content workflows can be a fairly painless process that can make your regular content creation a much smoother and efficient process. Content workflows

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The Content Corner: The Balance Between SEO and the User

I always think of SEO like the dentist—no one really likes it, but you need to do it. Yet, despite my lack of excitement for the topic, this will be at a minimum my second post (here’s the first) about the relationship between creating good content and SEO practices. Today I want to dive a little

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The Content Corner: Good UX Needs Good Content

As DigitalGov focuses on user experience this month it is good to remember one harsh truth: You cannot have a good user experience with bad content. It is important to keep a “content first” strategy in place during any website redesign or new site development. It is so easy for the various disciplines involved in

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The Content Corner: User Research for Complex Systems

My office is preparing to embark on a complete redesign of a 10-year-old system that averages 20,000 users a month. The success and adoption of the new system design and the product as a whole will be heavily determined by how well our team translates users’ needs. Providing a good user experience will also play

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The Content Corner: Structured Content and the Power of Syndication

A recent DigitalGov webinar on syndicated content and the recent achievements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped open my eyes even wider to the possibilities of open and structured content. By offering critical health information via syndication, CDC and other Department of Health and Human Services agencies are helping resource-strapped local agencies share

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The Content Corner: The Joys of the Content Template

Many of us depend a great deal on subject matter experts (SMEs) to generate content that will eventually end up on our site. These are men and women that have critical knowledge to share with our audiences, and it is our job to make it match our various editorial and content guidelines. Using a simple

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The Content Corner: Twitter, Apple News and the Importance of Our Websites

First, McDonald’s started serving breakfast all day. Now, Twitter announced it is dropping its 140 character limit for tweets. Black is white, up is down. Or is it really that big a deal? Is Twitter just keeping itself relevant in the battle for your content? LinkedIn and Facebook were first with their strong push for organizations to

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The Content Corner: Helping Your Content Contributors

Recently, I shared some suggestions and personal lessons learned for agencies either shopping for a new CMS or preparing to revamp their content strategy and workflow. Let’s take things one step further and focus on arguably the most important parts of your CMS: the content creator or user. Arguments can be made that content is the most

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The Content Corner: Content Management System Considerations

These days you couldn’t be faulted for thinking your content management system (CMS) choices are limited to two open source systems and maybe an enterprise-level offering that no one uses anymore. And while it’s true that for the public sector the popular open source options are extremely attractive from a cost standpoint, if nothing else,

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The Content Corner: Defining Your Core

Through the course of this blog, I have frequently mentioned the need to feed the content beast and have discussed tactics such as the content pillar and various other aspects of developing a solid content strategy. Recent research from the Content Marketing Institute found the average business-to-business (B2B) company uses 13 content marketing tactics or

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The Content Corner: Harness the Power of User-Generated Content

As of 2015, Millennials spent 30% of their time consuming user-generated content (UGC), and 54% of that group find UGC more trustworthy than content generated by a specific brand. This covers everything from user-generated reviews on Yelp! to short-form videos. Another benefit of UGC is that it helps crowdsource the burden of feeding the content

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The Content Corner: Should You Stop Writing and Start Podcasting?

Several months or so ago, I raised the question of whether you and your agency should be podcasting. Incidentally, my post coincided with the launch of DigitalGov’s new podcast series. As I discussed in my previous post, the long-niche broadcasting format has continued to grow in popularity and success with popular podcasts such as NPR’s Serial and

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The Content Corner: Optimize Your Content

For the past several weeks, I have been writing about fairly cerebral and more technical aspects of content generation and language in general. This week, I felt it was time to get back to a more basic content concept: content optimization. Frequently when content optimization is discussed it is heavily focused on search engine optimization

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The Content Corner: Modular Design and Structured Content

Several months ago I discussed the concept of a world without Web pages and the importance of structured content and thinking about content, not pages. This week, I’m taking that discussion further by discussing the importance of modularity in Web design and how that complements our efforts to create more structured and reusable data. Break

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The Content Corner: Using Natural Language Processing to Improve Rulemaking

For the past several weeks, I have been inflicting you with my recent dive down the rabbit hole of natural language generation and the larger discipline of natural language algorithms. Most of the focus has been on the power of natural language generation and how it can help you rapidly produce content on a wide

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The Content Corner: Can Automated Content Creation Help Your Agency?

Nearly half of companies recently surveyed said that automating content creation would save their content marketing teams the most time. We’ve already covered Natural Language Generation (NLG) algorithms and how they have made some forms of automated content generation a reality already, such as for sports recaps or financial data reporting. Let’s take a deeper

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The Content Corner: Rise of the Machines

In the span of two days, I received as many emails from respectable content marketing blogs worrying about the dangers of machines taking the jobs of bloggers and other content creators. The man vs. machine dynamic has existed since the dawn of the industrial age, but is it finally reaching the point where a technology

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The Content Corner: Supporting Your Content

This column revolves mostly around content creation and strategy, but an overlooked part of the content lifecycle is helping people find your content. Your content is made to be seen and without planning for promotion, it may never be found. The methods available to you may vary (wildly) at your agency, so remember your mileage may

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The Content Corner: Determining Your User’s Needs

I recently wrapped up a series of user interviews as part of a review of our judiciary-wide intranet in order to provide better digital services to our customers (and yes, our internal users are our customers, not just the general public). As I prepare to delve back into determining user and content needs for a

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The Content Corner: Create Better Mobile Content

All content needs to be developed with a mobile-first strategy, from headline choice to paragraph length. Although we are all now living in a post-mobilegeddon world, many of us are still implementing a mobile strategy. This strategy should consider several factors, including viewport size, cellular versus WiFi considerations, and load times. It should also include a

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The Content Corner: Creating Good Content is Hard

Throughout my five-plus months so far on this blog, I have focused a great deal on creating content, the various methods to improve your content, and what exactly content is. One thing that I may not have emphasized enough is the quality of the actual writing itself and how no content strategy on the planet

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The Content Corner: Telling Your Story

Storytelling plays an important role in helping to establish the human connection that is often lost in today’s digital deluge of information, shares and tweets. A large amount of the content we consume today is derivative, second-hand, and generally passes through us like a breeze. But by using a method of sharing content that is as

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The Content Corner: Writing Better Headlines

The clarity of a headline or title plays a critical role in whether your content is ever seen and read by your customers. As the battle for eyeballs continues to escalate, digital media providers seem to be resorting more and more to “clickbait” titles and headlines. However, as with all forms of overused marketing, consumers

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The Content Corner: Creating Engaging Content with Data

Over the last several years, continuing advances in computer processing power and storage have brought about the growth of what some call big data. Mobile and wearable devices now also generate large amounts of data via our

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The Content Corner: Creating a Content Style Guide

One of the more commonly overlooked pieces of any effective content strategy is a content style guide. Many times, content contribution takes place without even being aware of the need for a style guide, while other times a content style guide is considered something only used by print editors and publishers. Stalwarts like the AP

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The Content Corner: Humanizing Structured Content

Over the past several years, DigitalGov has been extremely focused on structured content, content models, and their role in future-ready content (and rightly so). A shift of focus back to the content itself as opposed to where it will be published is critical for agencies as we aim to reach as many customers as possible, regardless of

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The Content Corner: Connecting With Customers at Labor

Here at DigitalGov, customer service is a focal theme during the month of May, and by some type of cosmic chance, I was invited to share my insights on content strategy and content creation at a Customer Service Community of Practice event at the Department of Labor. The event focused on topics I commonly discuss here

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The Content Corner: Ranking Six Common Content Types

In last week’s column, I went back to a frequent theme of mine and discussed another method for helping to feed the content beast, which was learning when to say no to a new and potentially resource devouring digital channel or platform. However, we also need to take a look at six of the most

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The Content Corner: Learning to Say No

There is a quote that goes something like, “Just because we can do a thing, it does not follow that we must do a thing.” I attribute it to the President of the United Federation of Planets in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, partially because I am a geek, and secondly, the internet provided

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The Content Corner: The Content Wars

One of the most interesting trends forming at the start of 2015 is the rise of new digital publishers. Online entities from Facebook to GE are continuing their strong forays into the world of content production. This shift, especially among social media platforms such as Facebook, Linked In and Snapchat, could significantly alter the digital

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The Content Corner: Finding Your Voice

No, this is not another post about podcasting but about a different voice entirely. It is the words you use, the conversation that you are having with your users. Is your content using the most effective language possible to communicate and to convey emotions like trust or empathy? As an article from Larsen Design states,

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The Content Corner: Structured Content Challenges and Lessons Learned

In May 2014, Sarah Crane discussed the importance of structured content, APIs and the development of a “Create Once, Publish Everywhere” (COPE) strategy at USA.gov via a three part video series. After my recent post about a world without Web pages, Sarah and I connected and we discussed the challenges she has experienced during the

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The Content Corner: Should You Be Podcasting?

Along a somewhat personal journey (that you have chosen to join) to better define the term content, I’ve stumbled upon the puzzle of podcasts. Full disclosure: I have never been and most likely will never be a consumer of podcasts, ten years ago or today. I tried several times to listen to “Serial” and my

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The Content Corner: Making Those Connections

A (possibly infamous) blog post from last Friday and the discussion/debate that followed reminded me of several important points that we all may lose

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The Content Corner: Building a Content Strategy

I recently read a disheartening statistic which stated that only 32% of B2B organizations and 27% of B2C organizations had a documented content strategy. When you combine these results with the general assumption that the federal government lags behind in areas such as this (especially since content strategies have a marketing basis), then the number

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The Content Corner: A World Without Web Pages

Imagine a world without Web pages, only intelligent, self-assembling chunks of content waiting to respond to your needs. The page is irrelevant, there may be no context beyond what is included in your content. The content has to survive on its own, perform its goals on its own. Originally when creating content, you would take

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The Content Corner: Performing a Content Audit

Audit. It’s a word that generally has no positive connotations whatsoever. We hear the word audit and we think of tax audits or timesheet audits, etc. The word normally strikes fear or dread in the hearts of most mortals. But it is also a task that all websites will need to perform from time to

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The Content Corner: Catching a Wave

As we all continue to wrestle with the “content beast”, one effective method for generating ideas for content and fleshing out an editorial calendar is to look for trending events or even upcoming holidays. In the spirit of full disclosure, the idea behind this particular post was inspired by the back-to-back Valentine’s Day and Presidents’

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The Content Corner: Treating the Citizen as a Customer

There is a tendency in government to discount a range of strategies closely connected to marketing. A good example, and a recent buzzword, is content marketing. Content marketing’s main goal is to drive a user to click or sign-up; to turn them into a lead or a buying customer. We’re the federal government, we aren’t

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The Content Corner: Content Pillars: The Foundation of Any Effective Content Strategy

If you and your organization don’t already have a content strategy, then you are most likely working too hard to create content that is less effective in communicating your desired message and less relevant to your end-user. The lack of a content strategy can leave you at the mercy of the content “beast” where you

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