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Content design for communicators and publishers- IntraTeam 2020

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UX techniques to improve intranet content.

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Content design for communicators and publishers- IntraTeam 2020

  1. 1. Intranet reference pages and digital internal communications @Wedge | @ClearBox Content design for communicators and publishers
  2. 2. Wedge Black of ClearBox Consulting  Previously an intranet manager (sat within the Internal Communications team) at national and regional companies  Now an intranet consultant for ClearBox  Founder of the Intranet Now conference in London ClearBox Consulting is a specialist independent consultancy that believes in making the workplace a better and more productive experience. We understand technology, but we approach it from the people side first. @Wedge | @ClearBox | clearbox.co.uk
  3. 3. Get these slides clearbox.co.uk/content-design @Wedge | @ClearBox
  4. 4. Topics 1. Content design 2. Discovering needs 3. Defining and meeting needs 4. Skeletons 5. Actually writing! 6. Crits @Wedge | @ClearBox
  5. 5. A discipline – a set of techniques @Wedge | @ClearBox 1. Content design
  6. 6. What content design is about An evidence-based approach to creating content to give the audience what they need in a way they expect and can use. Content design is a movement, an approach, a grouping of practices, and becoming a discipline. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  7. 7. Sarah Richards and GDS UK government websites, and many gov intranets, have moved to a content design approach under Government Digital Service (GDS) guidance. Sarah Richards, formally of GDS, has written the book on content design: contentdesign.london/book/ @Wedge | @ClearBox
  8. 8. “I hate the word ‘content’…” ☐Yes, ‘content’ c0uld be almost anything ☐Reminds us to consider alternatives to text, alternative channels and media ☐Young people literally refer to ‘content creation’ for their social network channels – the word is endemic and accepted ☐Sure, if you need text, say “I need 3 to 5 paragraphs” but if planning an intranet / web page with multiple elements (text, graphics, photos, video, audio, animation, interaction etc.) then ‘content’ is a fine word. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  9. 9. Additional skills and practices ☐Comms people already have tactics to consider how messages land, engagement levels, and listening for responses ☐Content design is even more ‘user centred’ than good, solid employee comms ☐Content design adds several additional practices around up-front planning and reviews to ensure content performs as needed ☐Content design is becoming a discipline (a set of practices, a recognisable approach), that can be promulgated rolled out across your primary comms / publishing team and guide your extended teams and department publishers. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  10. 10. Ugh Content design practices can avoid things like this! twitter.com/LZats/status/1214212604811460608 / https://d.pr/ZxiEgC @Wedge | @ClearBox @LZats
  11. 11. Don’t assume; uncover @Wedge | @ClearBox 2. Discovering needs
  12. 12. Smash assumptions with research “I want them to know…” “I think people will need…” “Obviously, everyone’s number one priority will be…” Most assumptions need testing; some need smashing. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  13. 13. Research methods The crux of content design, is that evidence comes first. No creation without research. 1. Desk research 2. Usability research 3. Expert research 4. User research 5. Discussion on specifics. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  14. 14. ‘Must know’ We need to discover what people ‘must know’ to satisfy their needs. Research will help you split the ‘must know’ away from the ‘nice to know’. Specifically, user stories and job stories will define the ‘must know’ items, and the good ol’ inverted pyramid will help you consider context and ‘nice to know’. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  15. 15. Discovery day @Wedge | @ClearBox It’s often about having an open, fluid discussion in a big room with all the right people. Invite anyone who can directly input and who might block your progress later. But such a workshop is a fairly heavy commitment and so won’t be your tactic for every reference article.
  16. 16. Satisfactory results After discussions, you’ll likely have an understanding of:  the audiences  the various levels of existing knowledge  people’s needs  the problem to be solved / job to be done  subject-matter experts’ guidance  what the organisation / stakeholder thinks is needed and what’s really needed  when and where to publish  channel use (notify, promote, and share). You’ve done good research when you know the problem and are ready to write user stories and job stories. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  17. 17. Tools Discovery day • Everyone in the room Research • Discover needs User stories • Define audience needs Job stories • Define need Story acceptance • Agree shape of solution Skeleton • Bullet points Skeleton review • Agree substance Content draft • Solid first draft • Pair writing? Crit • Meets the needs of the audience? You can still be a good content designer even if you change when you review your stories, and even if you change when you do a crit. Be adaptable and focus on what works. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  18. 18. Understand the problem before considering the solution @Wedge | @ClearBox 3. Defining and meeting needs
  19. 19. User stories As a [colleague in a role / dept] I want to [know or do something] so I can [achieve a goal]. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  20. 20. Job stories When [specific situation] I want to [know or do something] so I can [achieve a goal]. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  21. 21. Acceptance criteria Assuming we’re to write an article or a reference page, we need to meet the acceptance criteria of the job story and meet the needs in the user story. “This job story is accepted when I know how to XXXX and complete the XXXXX task directly online with no offline assistance.” @Wedge | @ClearBox
  22. 22. Discovery reduced review pain The traditional review cycle is a vicious circle without agreed process or shared objectives. Defining actual needs means we already know what the article must cover.Writers can write to the need, and reviewers ensure we keep the audiences in mind, rather than debating punctuation. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  23. 23. Tools Discovery day • Everyone in the room Research • Discover needs User stories • Define audience needs Job stories • Define need Story acceptance • Agree shape of solution Skeleton • Bullet points Skeleton review • Agree substance Content draft • Solid first draft • Pair writing? Crit • Meets the needs of the audience? You can still be a good content designer even if you change when you review your stories, and even if you change when you do a crit. Be adaptable and focus on what works. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  24. 24. You may want the ‘meat’, but start with solid foundations @Wedge | @ClearBox 4. Skeletons
  25. 25. Bullet-point skeleton Rely on your research results and your job stories and keep your user stories in mind. 1. Lay out bullet points to cover everything 2. Rework the list to order it from ‘must know’ to ‘nice to know’ / context 3. Consider breaking the list up with sub- headings to chunk the list 4. Sure, draft a title but don’t set your heart on it. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  26. 26. First pass skeleton  New carpark to open (date)  Old carpark available until (date)  Location  Entry system  No changes to parking privileges  Parking space entitlement criteria  How to request a parking space  Request a parking space [action]  Restrictions  Contact Job story When approaching the office location in my car I want to know where the carpark is and how to get in for free so I can park my car without additional help. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  27. 27.  New carpark to open (date)  Location  Entry system  Restrictions ◎  Old carpark available until (date) ◎  How to request a parking space ◎  No changes to parking privileges  Parking space entitlement criteria  Request a parking space [action]  Contact Job story When approaching the office location in my car I want to know where the carpark is and how to get in for free so I can park my car without additional help. User story As a colleague who drives to work every day I want to know how to get into the carpark so I can park easily park and get to work on time. Second pass skeleton @Wedge | @ClearBox
  28. 28. Title: New carpark at Manchester office  New carpark to open (date)  Location and directions ◎  Entry system  Restrictions Sub-head: Old carpark  Old carpark available until (date) Sub-head: No changes to parking privileges  Your allocation remains the same ◎ Sub-head: Request a new or different parking space  N.N. No need if you already have one! ◎  How to request a parking space  Parking space entitlement criteria  Request a parking space [action]  Contact Job story When approaching the office location in my car I want to know where the carpark is and how to get in for free so I can park my car without additional help. User story As a colleague who drives to work every day I want to know how to get into the carpark so I can park easily park and get to work on time. Third pass skeleton @Wedge | @ClearBox
  29. 29. Skeleton approval Circulate the job story and skeleton around your project teammates, subject-matter experts, and stakeholders. Explain that the bullet-points demonstrate what the article will express. Explain that the bullet points should meet the needs expressed in the job story. Ask for input and approval to proceed. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  30. 30. Tools Discovery day • Everyone in the room Research • Discover needs User stories • Define audience needs Job stories • Define need Story acceptance • Agree shape of solution Skeleton • Bullet points Skeleton review • Agree substance Content draft • Solid first draft • Pair writing? Crit • Meets the needs of the audience? You can still be a good content designer even if you change when you review your stories, and even if you change when you do a crit. Be adaptable and focus on what works. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  31. 31. It’s the last thing you want to do @Wedge | @ClearBox 5. Actually writing!
  32. 32. Tone and style Write for your audience, not for your boss. Write to meet the expectations expressed in the user stories, for your several different audiences. This is not about grammars; this is about your house style guide, and a tone and vocabulary suitable for the topics and the audiences. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  33. 33. Good comms 'Good’ does not mean ‘good grammar’. Write in the vocabulary of the audience. Not quite like Patrick here! But still, Mr. Martin is not offended by the voice or grammar, as the tone is fine. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  34. 34. Once colleagues and stakeholders agree with the job stories and skeletons, writing becomes simply about meeting the expectations appropriately. Now’s the time to bring your comms skills! @Wedge | @ClearBox
  35. 35. Tools Discovery day • Everyone in the room Research • Discover needs User stories • Define audience needs Job stories • Define need Story acceptance • Agree shape of solution Skeleton • Bullet points Skeleton review • Agree substance Content draft • Solid first draft • Pair writing? Crit • Meets the needs of the audience? You can still be a good content designer even if you change when you review your stories, and even if you change when you do a crit. Be adaptable and focus on what works. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  36. 36. It’s critique not criticism @Wedge | @ClearBox 6. Reviews Crits
  37. 37. Substance and style Separate the substance from the style. I suggest reviewers should focus on the substance.  Respect subject-matter experts for their subject-matter expertise.  Respect content designers for their understanding of the audiences.  Respect writers for their understanding of grammars and tone. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  38. 38. WordVs. published page You may want content approved inWord… People experience content in context. People will have a different experience in Word than in your intranet / digital workplace. Consider in-situ draft reviews, or at least be prepared for a re-review after publishing. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  39. 39. Crits Respect that everyone did their best work considering the time and resources allotted. Focus on the content, and only the content in front of you; not the process, not the creator. Constructive. Decisions don’t have to be defended. Suggestions don’t have to be taken on board. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  40. 40. Reviews Help reviewers understand the job stories, the user stories, and the acceptance criteria. Stick to the house style guide, and use the appropriate tone for the topic. Steer reviewers away from expressing personal preferences around grammar! Be open to terminology changes and notes about anything you’ve missed from subject-matter experts. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  41. 41. If there’s time… @Wedge | @ClearBox Final thoughts
  42. 42. Don’t be boring Content design is about meeting a defined need. Some content design experts might optimise, simplify, and hone text to such an extent that it loses flavour. But content design does not dictate that communications must be dull, only clear. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  43. 43. Maintenance Everyone loves creation; few love maintenance. Whatever you create has a lifecycle. Plan for it. Create less content; ensure it’s valuable with need discovery, and then analytics. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  44. 44. Maintenance Ideally, there will be the right amount of content to support colleagues as they need, considering the resources allotted. In reality, some departments consider digital content to be cheap, and so create and publish too much. When content amount exceeds resources, you get content debt. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  45. 45. Be the internal content hero Content designers are frequently employed to optimise websites.  Optimising dense sites (e.g. government) to better serve people, or  Optimising commercial websites to better explain services and products (increase sales) in a crowded market. @Wedge | @ClearBox @Wedge | @ClearBox
  46. 46. Match the message to the audience to the channel Or as content designers say: 1. In the audience’s vocabulary 2. In the best format for the audience 3. Providing what the audience needs from us 4. Designed with data / research results. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  47. 47. Books Communicating the User Experience Richard Caddick and Steve Cable Designing for the Digital Age Kim Goodwin Successful Employee Communications Sue Dewhurst and Liam Fitzpatrick Graphic Design Rules Sean Adams et al. Designing Connected Content Mike Atherton and Carrie Hane Content Design Sarah Richards @Wedge | @ClearBox
  48. 48. Start with strategy  Digital workplace strategy  IT strategy  Internal comms / engagement strategy  Knowledge management strategy  Intranet strategy 1.Content strategy 2.Content operations 3.Content design @Wedge | @ClearBox
  49. 49. Terms and practices  Discovery day  User stories  Job stories  Acceptance criteria  Skeleton  Crits @Wedge | @ClearBox
  50. 50. SharePoint intranets in-a-box report Our expert assessments of products that transform SharePoint into a useful and useable intranet. clearbox.co.uk/sp-intranet 30+ intranet product reviews 600+ pages Immediate download 25% off Wedge clearbox.co.uk Offer expires on Friday 13th March. Only for IntraTeam attendees; do not share online. @Wedge | @ClearBox
  51. 51. Wedge Black of ClearBox Consulting clearbox.co.uk/about-us @Wedge Wedge@clearbox.co.uk clearbox.co.uk @ClearBox hello@clearbox.co.uk +44 (0) 1224 458746 CH4 7AD, UK All images used here are copyright permitted / free-to-use from Unsplash.com
  52. 52. Get these slides clearbox.co.uk/content-design @Wedge | @ClearBox

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