UX Writing and Content Strategy

Grant Shellen says that content strategists needs to, among other things:

  • Ask a lot of questions to really understand the business problem they’re helping solve.
  • Apply information architecture to make sense of large bodies of content and complex products.
  • Have empathy for the people who will be on the receiving end of any experience they help design.
  • Apply design thinking to develop solutions that may not be strictly related to content, in service of helping people achieve a goal.

When I read this I realized that my training as a social/cultural anthropologists has helped me learn and refine these skills.

Anthropologists ask a lot of questions — sometimes the ones no one else will ask, or think of asking. We don’t assume anything.
We apply theories (i.e. “information architecture”) to help make sense of large bodies of complex products (i.e. information).
Anthropology is at heart, an empathetic social science. Understanding other people takes a great amount of sensitivity, awareness and personal self-reflection.
We help communities develop solutions to problems or uncover unintended consequences.

Stacy King Gordon mentions:

If how we name things confuses people about where to go next, what tool to use, or how to accomplish a task, we risk, at best, delaying the work they’re trying to do — and at worst, frustrating them so much they never want to come back.

Designing with people in mind is always on my mind. As a writer, I’ve been able to capture stories, personas, user journeys and flows, help create test websites & translate clients’ needs. Here are a few examples of my work.

New Web Page Mock-ups

Testing button positions and word placement. I.E. how does “request a quote” resonate with users?

User Flows & Story Maps

I wrote and edited these user flows and story maps for two different clients (one in Italian and one in English). Both talk about the user’s journey through the product by building a simple model that tells the user’s story. This simple idea makes working with user stories in agile development a lot easier. These maps help us keep the users and what they’re doing with the product front and center.

Short Form Stories – An Example from Monocle

Can you tell a story in 100 words or less? I have often been assigned challenges like this from my editor at Monocle, and each time I step up to the challenge. These short snippets have to capture the essence of a company/person/product in a concise way while matching the tone of the publication. These are really fund to research and write.

Personas

These were created in collaboration with designers and other UX researchers for a client in the tourism industry. I wrote and edited the entire persona slides based on data gathered during the discovery phase.
Sharp personas help us guide the product design because their needs and motivations are clear and specific.