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Use pair writing to work together with subject matter experts

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We need input from subject matter experts to make sure content is accurate. When I was a web editor for the Norwegian government, I would take experts’ raw copy, work my magic, and hand it back for sign-off. But this linear workflow often led to conflict instead of meeting user needs. I discovered pair writing, inspired by the agile technique of pair programming. It includes both parties in the content creation process from the start, which builds trust.

Veröffentlicht in: Design

Use pair writing to work together with subject matter experts

  1. 1. Use pair writing to work together with subject matter experts agile content conf 19 January 2015
  2. 2. Content microtest
  3. 3. Content microtest • Test before publishing with one user • The user gets two questions, takes 10-15 minutes The technique was developed by Laura Arlov from The Norwegian Tax Authority to help writers create content that users understand.
  4. 4. Step #1: Read the title and description. Think of 3-4 questions you expect will be answered on this page.
  5. 5. Dementia Get advice from professionals. The first signs of dementia are often vague, and it may therefore be difficult to make a diagnosis. Many people with dementia say that they are experiencing things that were simple, has become more difficult. Some of the early signs of dementia are: What can you do? Are you worried if you or a loved one has dementia, you should contact a GP. It can take time to make a diagnosis of dementia. Before contacting a GP, you may want to think through, and note a few key words about these points: reduced attention and concentration: You may think it's been difficult to follow a conversation. memory failure: You experience a sudden feeling to have forgotten what you have done earlier in the day. language problems: You may have trouble remembering what things are called. sudden moments of confusion: You might find that you lose track, even in simple everyday situations. Step #2: Highlight where your questions are answered. Does the content meet the need?
  6. 6. Dementia Get advice from professionals. The first signs of dementia are often vague, and it may therefore be difficult to make a diagnosis. Many people with dementia say that they are experiencing things that were simple, has become more difficult. Some of the early signs of dementia are: What can you do? Are you worried if you or a loved one has dementia, you should contact a GP. It can take time to make a diagnosis of dementia. Before contacting a GP, you may want to think through, and note a few key words about these points: reduced attention and concentration: You may think it's been difficult to follow a conversation. memory failure: You experience a sudden feeling to have forgotten what you have done earlier in the day. language problems: You may have trouble remembering what things are called. sudden moments of confusion: You might find that you lose track, even in simple everyday situations. Step #2: Highlight where your questions are answered. Does the content meet the need?
  7. 7. Dementia Get advice from professionals. The first signs of dementia are often vague, and it may therefore be difficult to make a diagnosis. Many people with dementia say that they are experiencing things that were simple, has become more difficult. Some of the early signs of dementia are: What can you do? Are you worried if you or a loved one has dementia, you should contact a GP. It can take time to make a diagnosis of dementia. Before contacting a GP, you may want to think through, and note a few key words about these points: reduced attention and concentration: You may think it's been difficult to follow a conversation. memory failure: You experience a sudden feeling to have forgotten what you have done earlier in the day. language problems: You may have trouble remembering what things are called. sudden moments of confusion: You might find that you lose track, even in simple everyday situations. Step #2: Highlight where your questions are answered. Does the content meet the need? Feedback on needs, not grammar Cheap, fast
  8. 8. Can be done over the phone: Send title/ description and the rest of the copy in separate emails
  9. 9. 2008-2010: Web editor for The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs
  10. 10. 6000 employees 200 employees with access to CMS 3 websites ... me
  11. 11. Jakob Nielsen’s «F pattern»
  12. 12. So I printed the website...
  13. 13. Pair writing
  14. 14. Why pair writing? • The team thinks before publishing • It forces authors to stay focused • It helps colleagues form a mutual understanding of their content • It results in a more uniform tone • It allows authors to share best practices in regards to writing for the web
  15. 15. Web writing workshop (ca 1948)
  16. 16. Pair writing!
  17. 17. Inspired by pair programming http://bit.ly/acc-prog (PDF)
  18. 18. Case study: Norwegian Cancer Society
  19. 19. Warning!
  20. 20. Cancer Diseases ▶ Skin cancer ▶ Prevent Skin Cancer
  21. 21. Cancer Diseases ▶ Skin cancer ▶ Prevent Skin Cancer Prevention ▶ Sun and solarium ▶ Prevent Skin Cancer
  22. 22. 2012 2014 80% fewer pages
  23. 23. – More people contact the cancer line now than before, but now they’re more informed when they contact us Anine Wiig Dagestad Web editor and cancer nurse
  24. 24. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Cancer line conversations +40% Launch
  25. 25. Pair writing 1. Bring people together and pair them up 2. Decide on a need 3. Group feedback 4. Write! 5. Present a draft 6. Continue writing
  26. 26. Step #1: Bring people together and pair them up
  27. 27. Before writing, each pair has to answer these questions. • Which objective will this page help us achieve? • What are the user needs? Step #2: Decide on a need
  28. 28. Before writing, each pair has to answer these questions. • Which objective will this page help us achieve? • What are the user needs? Step #2: Decide on a need Objective: Increased knowledge about symptoms and early diagnosis of dementia
  29. 29. Before writing, each pair has to answer these questions. • Which objective will this page help us achieve? • What are the user needs? Step #2: Decide on a need Objective: Increased knowledge about symptoms and early diagnosis of dementia User needs: Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment
  30. 30. Step #3: Group feedback
  31. 31. Step #4: Write!
  32. 32. Step #4: Write! – What do you mean by that?
  33. 33. Step #4: Write! – Can you read that out loud? – What do you mean by that?
  34. 34. Initial drafts focus on most important need
  35. 35. Step #5: Present a draft
  36. 36. Step #6: Switch roles and continue writing
  37. 37. No cruft, just needs Example from City of Oslo
  38. 38. Pair writing 1. Bring people together and pair them up 2. Decide on a need 3. Group feedback 4. Write! 5. Present a draft 6. Continue writing
  39. 39. Pair writing helps you write to meet the need
  40. 40. Pair writing is outside some people’s comfort zone, but the results are worth it
  41. 41. It teaches you to focus on the need first, then the words
  42. 42. When you practise pair writing, you can't remember who wrote each sentence. You have shared ownership.
  43. 43. Pair writing helps you find common ground
  44. 44. Thank you! @audunru audun@netliferesearch.com Slides and resources: http://bit.ly/acc-pw

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