Content Design London

April Meetup

Published 8 April 2019, by Sarah Winters in Content Design Content Process.

Last night was our first meetup. Here’s how it went.

How to use journey mapping to breaking down silos.

Journey mapping is when you take a task and lay out all the steps your audience will go through to complete that task.

We invite marketing, legal, comms, content, design, call centre staff, senior management… anyone who has expertise or knowledge of that particular task. Together we create a map with post-its and print-outs on a wall. This makes it easy for people to literally get the picture.

We look at all the communications the whole organisation is putting out plus whatever other messages the audience may get on their journey. For example: what is being shown in search engine results? Are people talking to friends and relatives? What channel are they on?

Your digital service is a tiny part of someone’s decision process. Understanding that process plus the language and emotion at each step can really help you with defining your user needs.

Hinrich shared an example where he took all the marketing materials and put them up on the wall along a journey. When we do this it is usually really stark how confusing an organisation can be with too much content.

We normally don’t have to say no to any department when journey mapping. We ask: where is the user need for this? What’s the best time for this message? Showing everyone – physically, by putting it all up on the walls – is a great way to bring a team together.

Not more content, smarter content.

Readability guidelines project.

We’ve blogged a lot about the process and the links are below.

Lizzie shared how our guidelines are already being used by people around the world to inform their work; our own BBC are contributing. Even Chris Messina, who invented using the hashtag on social media, had a look.

He especially likes the social media guidelines, which include capitalising each word in hashtags.

We want the guidelines to be a single place we can all go to, contribute to and feel we own.

Lizzie also told everyone about what is happening next. We are looking at starting up again with:

  • positive contractions
  • numbers 1 and 0 can be mixed up for a lower case ‘L’ and zero could be the letter ‘o’
  • punctuation for screen readers

So if you have any research on this – please get in touch. If not, we are going to look at commissioning our own research to get the answers.

We’ll be back in slack from next Wednesday 10th April, so dive in!

Accessibility is usability.

I talked about: if your site isn’t accessible, it is not usable.

Some stats for you:

  • 13.9 million disabled people in the UK
  • £249 billion: the disposable income of a family with 1 disabled person
  • Nearly 1m people are believed to have a learning disability in England alone

I talked about how disabilities can be temporary (a broken arm), permanent (one arm) or situational (if you are holding a child).

There is so much we content people can do to make content accessible and usable. Short sentences help those with a narrow view, any cognitive impairments and all of us who are short on attention.

There are also so many considerations for accessibility that are usability issues too. Headings and sub-headings for example. Headings can be read out by screen readers so the audience can decide if they want to listen to the whole piece. Headings can also tell a time-pressured parent if they are going to get the information they want.

Same thing.

Different audiences.

Really easy to do.

Adding captions and transcripts to videos mean people with hearing impairments can still access content. A hearing impairment maybe someone who doesn’t have headphones and they are on a bus. Accessible and usable.

I talked about how people without an impairment will be able to understand clear language easily. Very few will feel they are being ‘patronised’ or it’s ‘dumbing down’ but they can understand it and move on. They won’t be stopped by it. What we are doing is helping those who don’t find it so easy. We are not hindering anyone. We are helping.

It’s not dumbing down, it’s opening up.

Lastly, I also talked about how many accessibility settings now allow users to strip away colour, design, all sorts. All that is left is your content. Are you the blocker? You can’t hide behind your developers and designers if your content is inaccessible.

Content people have so much influence over accessibility. Links below to help you persuade your organisation.

Announcement: Content Design London Academy

We announced our intention to launch our academy in September 2019.

The problem

Many organisations will only take ex-GDS content designers or those with years of government content design experience.

This is ridiculous.

Many content people have the skills and/or aptitude but are missing out because they don’t have the right experience.

The solution

The Content Design London Academy will give participants the experience of running an end-to-end content design project for a client.

The course will run one evening a week for 12 weeks, in London.

We will be inviting a small charity to work with us. They will fulfil the criteria and then get publishable, evidence-based, user-centred content.

More details on our academy page.

Next steps

The meetup was an amazing experience and feedback said there was a need, so we will hold another one later in the year.

From the conversations last night, it looks like it might be most useful to focus on convincing an organisation that content design is a good idea. We heard so many people say “ I wish X could have heard this. They need to see what we are not doing.” So we thought we might have a meetup where you are invited to invite people along and make it relevant for the blockers, the curious or the uninitiated in the ways of content design. What do you think? Please give us your thoughts, comments and questions on Twitter or Linkedin.


And just a note to say thanks to my team for all the visible and behind-the-scenes work and to the truly lovely Orla from My Clear Text for providing on-screen captioning on the night.

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