What Did Neil Armstrong Teach Us About Website Content Strategy?

What Did Neil Armstrong Teach Us About Website Content Strategy?
A well-thought-out website content strategy develops the system for organizations to reach the moon. When a content strategy is engineered with care and craftsmanship and is an experience, it can result in big-picture accomplishments that open the door for greater expansion. Former U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong knows a thing or two about expansion. Armstrong didn’t go to the moon just to go to the moon; he wanted to be part of something bigger. In James R. Hansen’s biography  “First Man,” Armstrong told Hansen, I flew to the moon not so much to go there, but as part of developing the system that would allow it to happen. Hansen later extended this idea by claiming Armstrong saw himself as an engineer first, and that the astronaut knew he was part of a long chain of human migration. We can assume that Armstrong placed a high degree of importance on his work and was keenly aware of how his successes and failures would impact the future of space travel. Hansen writes:
Once, over lunch, I asked him to compare the Moon landings to another event in human history. His quick answer surprised me: the Austronesian expansion [referring to the vast human expansion to Formosa (present-day Taiwan) and the Pacific Islands in 5,000 B.C.] Armstrong continued: We have learned how to navigate to the Moon. That is like the ancient Chinese mainlanders learning how to get to Formosa; Formosa is the Moon. After we settle it, we jump off from there to Mars, just like they went next to the Philippines. And from there, all across our vast galaxy. If the Austronesians can sail in their boats and scatter into settlements all across Oceania, we can take our spacecraft and scatter and settle all across the Milky Way.
Today’s decision-makers can use Armstrong’s thinking and the logic behind it to improve their organization’s digital experiences. Let’s shrink the moon-landing mission down to a more relatable scenario.


A stakeholder at your company asks your web team to add a piece of content to the website. The web team complies and adds the content, then checks the item off their to-do list and continues with their day-to-day responsibilities.


There is no strategy in place for how new content should be added to the website. New content doesn’t fit into the current website’s framework. The stakeholder argues that these tasks are small and harmless. The web team argues that these asks—while few and far between—are starting to build up. Slowly, your website drifts further away from your web team’s vision. This reduces your web team’s morale and puts turnover at risk. Your brand messaging is muddled. Your content is no longer working for you. Ultimately, your customer suffers. So does your organization. If Armstrong and his co-pilots’ only goal was to land on the moon to prove that mankind could land on the moon, then every accomplishment after July 20, 1969, may not have been achieved—not by NASA, at least. Armstrong lay the foundation for future space missions. He created a playbook and strategy for how exploration was to be done. He engineered one of the most impactful human experiences in history. A website content strategy is the system that organizations use to connect their primary web assets (content) to their primary business objectives. A content strategy is also agile. It allows for change and digital expansion, such as implementing a new platform, mobile app, rewards program, online scheduling, content hub, and other large content-driven initiatives.

How Important is Content to Your Organization?

Content is the messaging that conveys meaning to your audience. It’s the information that audiences are looking for each time they visit your digital platform. The overused adage “content is king”—first penned by Bill Gates in a 1996 essay published on Microsoft’s website—signaled the explosion of how organizations use content to attract customers. Two decades later, audiences are saturated by content at every turn, while many organizations have so much of it that they don’t know what to do next.

Becoming a Modern-Day Armstrong

Becoming a modern-day Armstrong in the digital space doesn’t require aeronautical expertise or a propensity for flight. It does require a content strategist to perform several important tasks and ask a few simple questions about your company.
  1. What are your business objectives?
  2. What assets are available?
  3. What are your audience’s goals?
  4. Where are your gaps?
  5. What resources are available (people and financial)?
Answers to these questions are used as the building blocks for your website content strategy:
  • Your business objectives (landing on the Moon) are your end goal
  • Your assets (rocket ship) are how you’ll get there
  • Your audience’s goals (learn more about the moon and our galaxy) are what keeps your customers engaged
  • Your gaps (the journey) are how you’ll achieve your business objectives
  • Your resources (astronauts, scientists, NASA, budget) make it all possible

What a Website Content Strategy Looks Like

Successful marketing teams use a well-defined and thought-out content strategy to map out their web content. A content strategy ensures your:
  • Website and content goals are never compromised
  • Brand messaging remains intact
  • Audience reaches their goals

Four Phases of an Engineered Content Strategy:

Depending on your goals and business objectives, your content strategy will encompass a variety of the following tactics that fall under four important phases:  

Next Steps

Armstrong once told the National Press Club that “Science is about what is. Engineering is about what can be.” An engineered content strategy lays the foundation for future success and keeps your organization agile in the face of inevitable industry change.  Discover what it takes to succeed at the art and science of customer experience.
Ian Jacobs

Ian Jacobs

Senior Consultant of Content Strategy