17 tips to get content people in the room, for non-content people
You’ve figured out that content design and strategy is not just words. And anyway you’ve realised you are not able to write those, in a concise, scannable, user-friendly, plain English way either.
Maybe you’ve been following the #ContentDesign hashtag or you’ve read Sarah’s book or something.
However you found it out, you now know you definitely need a content person for your digital product or service from early on.
Hooray! The content design community welcomes you.
But how are you going to get content in the room, at the table, contributing valuable learnings and getting stuck in?
How are you going to convince the Holders Of The Budget Purse Strings that content expertise is a necessity, not a nice to have? That content adds value: for the user, for the organisation. For its current reputation, and its future success.
Well, here are some ideas:
- Advocate for content whenever you can.
- Mention in advance at project planning meetings that you’ll need a content person for Discovery. And that it’d be worthwhile having content strategy input before then.
- Go to content show and tells at your workplace, if an option, to learn more about what content can do.
- Attend content talks and events. We’re holding a Content Design London MeetUp on 23 July, come along!
- Talk to content designers and strategists about their work.
- Shadow a content person, if you have that learning option in your workplace.
- Attend content design training to better understand its processes and the skills, techniques and knowledge it requires.
- Tell your colleagues about what you learnt. Give a short summary on your internal comms channel. Bonus: you can practice your new skills by doing that.
- While you’re there, seek out your organisations Slack or Yammer – or Intranet forum (shudder) – discussion on business goals and strategies. Tell them about this thing called content strategy…
- Suggest they get a content strategy, if they have not got one.
- Request to borrow a content designer from another team for a couple of days, to show your programme lead or studio manager the value they can add. That is if it’s an option and their own team can spare them. If no inhouse content designer is available, bring in a freelancer for this.
- Ask a content designer to come to your team meeting, to showcase how content can help. For example, get them to demonstrate effective error messages to your developers. Then you’ve got the tech people’s support behind you.
- Talk to the UX designers, interaction designers, visual designers, service designers. Ask them who creates the textual content? I’ve known web designers be hugely relieved when they realise there’s someone else who can craft that bit. That bit being the bit users read, react to, get direction from, are reassured by, know what to do next on account of.
- If someone holds the view that “anyone can write”, teach them that content design is not just writing. Ask them how they would present information about budgeting for university, for example. Then suggest a calculator tool, with fields for various incomings and outgoings. Let them know that is content design.
- Help them understand that, in fact, not everyone can write good digital content. Ask them to write up a dense legal paragraph clearly, and scannably. You’re bound to have some handy source material in your organisation’s terms and conditions.
- Show them that content is the glue that holds everything together. Take a screenshot of any webpage and photo-edit out all the titles, subheads, body text, calls to action, radio button text, microcopy.
- Show them examples of sites with awful, user-unfriendly content. And ask them to try to perform tasks on them. Sit back and wait for their screams.
Content Design London’s MeetUp on Tuesday 23 July will focus on the value content can bring to your organisation. Book tickets for our London MeetUp.
You can also find out more from the GatherContent blog post by Lizzie on why you need to involve content in projects early.
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