Content Design London

The life of a content designer at CDL

29 October 2020

By Clare Reucroft

Content Design

Let’s rewind all the way back to 15th June 2020. It’s my first day as a content designer at CDL and I can’t contain myself. Fast forward to today, now, whenever you’re reading this - and I’m still utterly delighted to be working at CDL. Why? Well it’s a number of things, so let me count the ways…

Learning is valued and practiced

Before I even started, the team had me signed up to attend SofaConf. So, my second week here was filled with an abundance of bright ideas and insights, from content design all the way through to service design and ways of working. All these weeks later, I’m still unpicking Jonathan Colman’s talk on how Intercom re-defined their content design practice.

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I also loved hearing from Ross Chapman at SofaConf. His take on remote sprints and behaviours in a remote environment definitely got me thinking.

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“If one person in your company is remote, then so is everyone”

The (remote) CDL team

Lockdown or no, we are a remote team. This is a first for me so I’m still learning how to show my whole self, remotely. That said, I could see immediately that this team is truly at ease with one another and so all that was really needed here is the magic of time.

In the short while I have been at CDL though, I’m already beginning to really feel its warm, inclusive and flexible culture. For example, I was recently asked to write down my working preferences. Every member of the team has one of these documents. I love how this is a way of recognising our personal commitments and respecting focus.

The little things count for a whole lot, too. The team sent flowers for my birthday and on my first day, Sarah made sure my tech set up was just right. This is a team that cares.

CDL is a masterclass in community

That heading says it all really. Before I came to CDL, I was happily chirping away in its Academy corner. Now I’ve joined the team, that’s just one small part of it. We also have our:

  • content design club,
  • content design academy 2020,
  • Readability Guidelines project,
  • lovely content friends on Twitter and LinkedIn

And I had the pleasure (read also: pressure!) of taking over the CDL Twitter account. I’ve never done a live Q&A before so that’s one thing ticked off the bucket list.

I came for the people, and I’m staying for the work

It’s strange to think that I’ve only been at CDL for a few short months. It feels so much longer than this and that’s absolutely down to a) the team and b) the work. I’ve had such amazing client projects already at CDL.

I reviewed the Australian Government’s style manual, and made recommendations for how they could make sure that it is findable, usable and readable. I learnt lots on that first project, but mainly that - when you only have a short amount of time to do something, you can’t get into the details too much. It’s much more important to look for patterns. And that’s hard.

I’m a content designer, I’ve recently spent a good 15 minutes considering which word to use. Why? Because when you work on domestic abuse content, the words you choose really matter. And that brings us up to my latest CDL project, where we mapped domestic abuse journeys and needs, and wrote content for our client’s new website.

I’m also staying for the people. I’ve worked with the most amazing content strategist on this project. Peer review is essential for good content, and this content strategist misses nothing. The project’s UX designer has been great too. I had my first taste of wireframing content and design, side by side, and now I wonder why it’s done any other way.

I’m ready for my close up now…

A core value of CDL is to work in the open and share our knowledge. Part of that is delivering talks and running courses for the community. This is definitely a new side of work for me. Slowly but surely, I’m picking up those reins of sharing what I know, learning how to do talks and running CDL’s courses.

Oh hello imposter syndrome! I’m still a relatively young content designer. There’s a lot I don’t know. Who am I to be standing and speaking up on stage? But that’s exactly the point. I want to see more people like me, early on in their careers and sharing as they go.

Presenting is scary. Doing a Q&A is scary. Imposter syndrome doesn’t crop up when you’re comfy, and so I’ll take the fear and discomfort for a chance to grow instead please.

Clarey and the content factory

I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry for that terrible heading. I feel like I’ve been given the keys to the best sweet shop in town. I thought this the other day when I was looking through an upcoming course’s slide deck (and marvelling). There is so much good stuff here. And I’m just getting started.

What else have you got for me CDL?


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