30 January 2020
By Sarah Richards
2019 was brilliant.
- trained over 500 people across 4 countries,
- moved our course to Australia,
- worked with companies like Office of National Statistics (ONS), British Red Cross, Hilton, UKRI, Equiniti and Which?,
- donated 147 number of trees to our usabilitrees grove in Scotland,
- piloted our new accessible content course,
- completed our first academy.
Our 3 goals for last year were:
- silo working,
- accessibility is usability,
- content people need to be paid more.
Let’s look at how we did.
Everywhere we went we talked about journey mapping and how it brings teams together. Blog posts with more on that:
- What is content design
- Alpha is for learning, beta is for doing
- Content discovery: how we did it in the Content Design Academy
We also started having meet-ups. We know that some of you are lone content designers in large organisations and you don’t get to connect. The meet-ups we have always have a social element. We are going to work on this more in 2020.
Accessibility is usability
I spoke all over the world about how if you don’t have accessibility, you don’t have usability and it’s only when you have both that we get the inclusive web we all deserve. I met so many wonderful people with many wonderful stories to tell, that I intend to carry on with this particular strand this year.
Content people need to be paid more
I think we may need to show our value to people who may not understand exactly what we do. We have 2 parts to this: our research paper and the readability guidelines.
In our November meetup we talked about the value of content design. From that, we now have our research paper: the value of content design. We’ll be publishing it on the 20th of February.
We ran our first Content Design Academy from September to November. For 12 weeks 18 people worked on a project for the charity Action Duchenne that looks after families with children who have muscular dystrophy.
The group went from discovery to content production with stellar results. People learned a lot, we learned a lot. Most of all the teamwork within the group was fantastic which really showed in the outputs, for example, the user needs, sketches for content solutions and the content itself.
The academy also made people in the group think about how they want to position content within their organisations and where they want to go with their content design careers. One person even got a job (partly) based on being a student on the academy.
We will be blogging more about what we did over the 12 weeks.
We are thinking of piloting our academy in Australia and Manchester, UK next year. Please fill in the form if you are interested – https://forms.gle/KMh9GhV1hz8iaaJa8 or feel free to contact Claire at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Research: hidden access needs
In researching accessibility, I found content guidance for physical conditions is defined, accepted and being worked on. I found a couple of needs, that I felt, are not as well documented. The 2 that jumped out at me were: poverty and abuse. I have already started a research project to look into this so will be sharing more on that through the year.
We will continue our work on the readability guidelines. You’ll see we have a lovely new wiki. Thanks to Lizzie and Rich Higgins for all their amazing work. We had a conversation about whether people might like the wiki in a book. Seemed an odd idea! A wiki… in a book? But the readability slack community seemed to like the idea. We had a really small print run done. We sold 80 in 10 days. So we are having more printed now. If the guidelines go well, we will print the book each year. We will have updates for you in the coming weeks and months.
Evolving our courses
We are privileged to have an international audience. We now run courses in Australia and we are looking at piloting courses in USA, Canada and the Netherlands. If you’d like to help us get some content design meet-ups or traction going in Toronto, Vancouver or The Hague/Amsterdam, please get in touch. To be honest, if you can find 16 people who want the course, we will work to make that happen.
We are also working on our online course. It’s a second attempt at this for us so I am not going to say any more than that. We will see if we can get it right this year!
We have a new accessible content course. You can book a spot here.
As always, our content design course is regularly updated with the latest guidance so no change there.
Climate change: we are now carbon neutral
We are an international company. But the privilege of working around the world means a lot of travel and that means harm to the planet. We have already accepted a number of international speaking engagements and contracts. To offset this we are going carbon neutral. Using the trainline and myclimate carbon calculators (https://www.thetrainline.com/trains/carbon-calculator / https://www.myclimate.org/), we have worked out we have used 20,345 kg carbon. We’ve spoken to Trees for Life and they’ve said the best thing to do is to donate to our existing grove. So we have donated 84 to Usabilitrees – our corporate tree grove in Scotland (you can add to that grove if you’d like – we’d be happy to include your tree in our clan).
For 2020 we are going to look at how we work. We are going to try a number of different ways to work remotely, cut our travel and work more sustainably. This will include, as it does now, hiring trainers in their home countries. It will stop some of the travelling from the UK. Again, we’ll keep you updated.
We will have a bunch of announcements coming throughout next year. We have big plans. But we’ll get to that.
Whatever you are doing this year, I’d like to wish you a very peaceful, content and kind 2020.
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