Introducing Hinrich, one of our Content Design trainers
6 October 2017
By Sarah Richards
Hinrich von Haaren is one of our trainers. He has a wealth of experience that makes him the perfect content designer to take you through our 2-day content design course. He’s been delivering courses for a while now so I thought I’d introduce him properly here.
Sarah: What’s your content background?
Hinrich: I came to the UK in 1995 with partner because I love London. The first time I came here (late 80s – there’s giving away my age), I knew I wanted to live here.
I worked in publishing and then CD Roms came along (do you remember those?), then government. I met Sarah in Sept 2009 to work on Directgov. [What he meant to say was: ‘the lovely and wonderful Sarah Richards’ there. SR] Directgov was the government website before GOV.UK, which I then went to work on. I led transition projects for GDS, taking government sites into GOV.UK. One of the hardest but most fun projects I have done. Since then I have worked for many places including: HMRC, DWP, BEIS, Treasury then NHS.
What do you like most about working in content?
I love the discovery phase with people who are engaged. You can find out so many things you didn’t expect. Love working with people who are trying something new.
I also really enjoy starting with user needs and getting to what people want to do quickly. I think we should all get away from ‘the page’. When you write content you can get sucked into writing more and more. When you step away from a traditional words-on-a-page setup, you can look at what people want to do.
Content is about actions, it’s not about words.
What’s your biggest content hate?
FAQs. [Sarah and Hinrich then rant on at each other for 3 hours]
Organisations being weird about their tone of voice is something that annoys me. Being clear and straightforward is your tone of voice. Everyone bangs on about it being this or that. I find a tone of voice is often condescending. I don’t see why you need one. Write to get people to the action they want to carry out as quickly as possible. Then go back to it and see if there is a particular way your organisation puts things.
Tone of voice shouldn’t allow you to get away with waffling.
What’s the best thing about Content Design London courses?
I like working with people from completely different content backgrounds. I want to run the course in a way that gives people tools for people to try out. It’s not about saying this is right and this is wrong, it’s about giving people different techniques to find what will work for them in their organisation.
What’s your funniest content story?
[Hinrich peers at Sarah.]
Funny? Not sure I have funny content stories.
[Thinks for a moment.]
I did get the introduction: ‘This is Hinrich, he puts the words on’ and ‘but you are German, why are you writing content?’
I’ve also been told countless times everything is so complicated and I won’t understand – but I do.
[Sarah and Hinrich stare at each other]
Sarah: this isn’t funny. This is tragic.
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