1 December 2022. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. But for me, it’s a different kind of beginning — my first day in a rather exciting new job.
‘How are you settling in?’ each new face politely asks. I’m not sure I’ve ever said the phrase ‘I feel like the cat that’s got the cream’ before. But I have now.
If you’re reading this, you probably know why I’m so delighted. You know that Content Design London is at the forefront of content design practice and what a privilege it is to work with this brilliant bunch of people.
Who am I?
I didn’t start my career in content design. How could I, when the discipline is [cough] years younger than me? But I’ve always worked in content, one way or another.
After realising I was too clumsy to be a scientist, I made exhibitions at the Science Museum. Next, I was a travel writer then editor. I spent time at Google as a content strategist working mainly on Google Maps.
I worked across the blurred lines between content strategy and design at disability charity Scope. They hired me to redesign content for a move to a new website. But I also ended up working with different teams on user testing, information architecture, QA, and marketing.
I then put together a content strategy to help keep the new site shiny in future. The content design team at Scope were a real inspiration, and showed me what best-practice content design really looks like.
During lockdown, I joined a team working on the national police website platform, used by many of the UK’s police forces. I designed services and content for people to report some of the most serious crimes. I learned a huge amount about how to design for traumatised and stressed users, as well as how to navigate complex territory with lots of stakeholders.
Rachel has already written about the accommodating recruitment process. She started in a parallel role a few weeks before me, and it was great to hear from her during that time. It was an early sign that I’d be working with considerate, thoughtful people.
As you’d hope and expect from a bunch of content designers, I had a clear and simple experience joining and getting settled into the company. I was given time to read and time to get to know people. There’s a real sense of community within the small team here, the kind that looks effortless but is actually really hard to nurture and cultivate.
How stuff works
As well as client work, there’s an admirable commitment to setting aside time for internal projects. It means we spend time improving ways of working, and don’t just add things to a backlog of good ideas that gather dust. As a process person, I love it.
In a small team, there are more things to do than lines in our job descriptions. But that fosters an ‘I’ve done that before, I can take that one’ attitude. It lets everyone bring everything they can to the team.
What now and what next
I’m currently planning a piece of work to help define our company’s ethos. It will articulate our shared idea of what Content Design London is and what it’s for. I want it to be more than just a statement. I want it to be a living document that we try on for size, see if it fits us, and tailor until it’s just right for us.
I want our ethos to be a useful document that we regularly refer to when we’re making decisions. Decisions about which clients we work with, how we recruit, and how we treat each other. It’s an exciting piece of work and I’m grateful to be trusted with it.
I’m also eagerly awaiting my first client-facing project. But I know all of CDL’s clients are doing meaningful, impactful work. Everyone here wants to do good in some way, and that’s reflected in the type of clients who come to us and the type of clients we take on.
I also want to contribute to and learn from the wonderful content design community that we’re a part of. I have some seeds of ideas I hope might germinate in the new year. I’d love to return to the theme of how to write content for stressed and traumatised users. I’ve still got a lot to understand about their specific needs. I’m certainly in the right place to learn!