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Pair writing: better
content, more customer-
focused
Gerry McGovern, Bjørn
Bergslien, Audun Rundberg
11 February 2015
Audun
@audunru
Bjørn
@bbergslien
This is what we look like
Construction company
University
Global fertilizer
company
Bank
Traditional content
creation processes are
sort of broken...
We write without
getting any critical
input from others
Photo: nivekhmng / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Who’s asking...
• Why are we creating this content?
• What is the purpose of this content?
• How does this content support...
Everyone is
publishing their
own stuff -
«Silo publishing»
Photo: Astrid Westvang / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
We produce new
content instead of
improving what we
already have
Photo: Jon S / CC BY 2.0
We publish
content because
it’s really easy to
click that button
in the CMS
Photo: Sean MacEntee / CC BY 2.0
We forget to
involve the right
stakeholders early
enough in a
website project
Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives / CC BY 2.0
We love content
strategy so much
that we forget to
work with the
actual content
Photo: Ranil Amarasuriya / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Challenges
• Writing without getting any input from others
• Working separately on our own - «silo publishing»
• Producing...
More
collaboration
please
Pair writing
Do your
user
research
...and establish
objectives!
Why pair writing?
• The team thinks before publishing
• It forces authors to stay focused
• It helps colleagues form a mut...
Web
writing
workshop
(ca 1948)
Pair
writing!
Inspired by
pair
programming
http://bit.ly/acc-prog (PDF)
Pair writing
1. Bring people together and pair them up
2. Decide on a need
3. Group feedback
4. Write!
5. Present a draft
...
Step #1:
Bring people
together and
pair them up
Before writing, each
pair has to answer
these questions.
• Which objective will this
page help us achieve?
• What are the ...
Step #3:
Group
feedback
Step #4:
Write!
– Can you read
that out loud?
– What do you
mean by that?
Initial drafts
focus on most
important need
Step #5:
Present a
draft
Step #6:
Switch roles
and continue
writing
No cruft,
just
needs
Example from
City of Oslo
Pair writing
1. Bring people together and pair them up
2. Decide on a need
3. Group feedback
4. Write!
5. Present a draft
...
Where does
pair writing
fit in your
process?
Let’s look at 4 examples
Warning!
Example #1
Small-town bank on the
windy west coast of
Norway
Financial
jargon
Product
prices hard
to find
Dull and
lifeless
content
Takes a
long time to
get to the
point
ssf.no
2012
redesign
Pair writing at SSF
• 2 pair writing workshops
• 10-12 people in total
• Pairing communications people and product special...
Straight to the point
Clear call to action
Prices and rates
Try it yourself!
Contact the bank for more info
236%
increase in mortgage
calculator use
Increased
traffic to all
product pages
520%
increase in traffic
compared to banners
on the front page
Example #2
Gaining leads for
construction projects
Add to cart
1
Bridge (18.000 tonnes)
Not going to
happen...
Showcase
a project
Showcase
a project
Contact
project
manager
Gain
project
leads
Oslo
Hammerfest
Paris
1332km
1342km
Web manager
East
Web manager
East
North
South
West
Example #3
Global fertilizer
company with 10.000
employees
Decentralized
publishing
practices
People
speaking
different
languages
50 different
locations
worldwide
Photo: Alexander K...
...and one
(SharePoint)
intranet
So this is what we did...
• 60 people from all over the world in the same
room
• Half day web writing theory course to get...
+
Word SharePoint
+
2. Cultural and organizational differences
Language barriers
People not feeling it was their task to write
3. Word and Sha...
Example #4
Customer focus at the
Norwegian University of
Science and Technology
5 million
pages sounds
about right...
NTNU’s «web school»
90 participants, 1 semester, 6 gatherings:
• Digital strategy
• Customer-centric content, usability an...
90 editors
gathered in a
room
What’s our
objective?
What does
the customer
need?
Takeaways
Pair
writing helps
you write to
meet the
need
Pair writing is
outside some
people’s comfort
zone, but the results
are worth it
It teaches you to
focus on the need
first, then the words
When you practise pair
writing, you can't
remember who wrote
each sentence. You have
shared ownership.
Pair writing helps
you find common
ground
Thank you!
@audunru
audun@netliferesearch.com
@bbergslien
bjorn@netliferesearch.com
Slides and
resources:
bit.ly/gerry-pw
Pair writing: better content, more customer-focused
Pair writing: better content, more customer-focused
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Pair writing: better content, more customer-focused

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On February 11th, Bjørn Bergslien and I held a webinar together with Gerry McGovern. The topic was how pair writing helps subject matter experts and content experts work together to create content that meets user needs.

Veröffentlicht in: Internet
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Pair writing: better content, more customer-focused

  1. 1. Pair writing: better content, more customer- focused Gerry McGovern, Bjørn Bergslien, Audun Rundberg 11 February 2015
  2. 2. Audun @audunru Bjørn @bbergslien This is what we look like
  3. 3. Construction company University Global fertilizer company Bank
  4. 4. Traditional content creation processes are sort of broken...
  5. 5. We write without getting any critical input from others Photo: nivekhmng / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
  6. 6. Who’s asking... • Why are we creating this content? • What is the purpose of this content? • How does this content support our business goals? • Who will be reading this content? • And why will they read it? • Could this be a video or an illustration instead of text?
  7. 7. Everyone is publishing their own stuff - «Silo publishing» Photo: Astrid Westvang / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
  8. 8. We produce new content instead of improving what we already have Photo: Jon S / CC BY 2.0
  9. 9. We publish content because it’s really easy to click that button in the CMS Photo: Sean MacEntee / CC BY 2.0
  10. 10. We forget to involve the right stakeholders early enough in a website project Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives / CC BY 2.0
  11. 11. We love content strategy so much that we forget to work with the actual content Photo: Ranil Amarasuriya / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
  12. 12. Challenges • Writing without getting any input from others • Working separately on our own - «silo publishing» • Producing new content instead of improving existing content • Publishing content no one else has looked at • Not involving the right stakeholders early in the process • Only working on the strategy, not the nitty gritty details
  13. 13. More collaboration please
  14. 14. Pair writing
  15. 15. Do your user research
  16. 16. ...and establish objectives!
  17. 17. 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
  18. 18. Web writing workshop (ca 1948)
  19. 19. Pair writing!
  20. 20. Inspired by pair programming http://bit.ly/acc-prog (PDF)
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. Step #1: Bring people together and pair them up
  23. 23. 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
  24. 24. Step #3: Group feedback
  25. 25. Step #4: Write! – Can you read that out loud? – What do you mean by that?
  26. 26. Initial drafts focus on most important need
  27. 27. Step #5: Present a draft
  28. 28. Step #6: Switch roles and continue writing
  29. 29. No cruft, just needs Example from City of Oslo
  30. 30. 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
  31. 31. Where does pair writing fit in your process? Let’s look at 4 examples
  32. 32. Warning!
  33. 33. Example #1 Small-town bank on the windy west coast of Norway
  34. 34. Financial jargon Product prices hard to find Dull and lifeless content Takes a long time to get to the point
  35. 35. ssf.no 2012 redesign
  36. 36. Pair writing at SSF • 2 pair writing workshops • 10-12 people in total • Pairing communications people and product specialists • Finding a common tone of voice • Getting rid of financial jargon • Using Google Docs
  37. 37. Straight to the point Clear call to action Prices and rates Try it yourself! Contact the bank for more info
  38. 38. 236% increase in mortgage calculator use
  39. 39. Increased traffic to all product pages
  40. 40. 520% increase in traffic compared to banners on the front page
  41. 41. Example #2 Gaining leads for construction projects
  42. 42. Add to cart 1 Bridge (18.000 tonnes) Not going to happen...
  43. 43. Showcase a project
  44. 44. Showcase a project Contact project manager Gain project leads
  45. 45. Oslo Hammerfest Paris 1332km 1342km
  46. 46. Web manager East Web manager East North South West
  47. 47. Example #3 Global fertilizer company with 10.000 employees
  48. 48. Decentralized publishing practices People speaking different languages 50 different locations worldwide Photo: Alexander Kaiser / CC BY 2.0 More than 60 intranet editors and contributors
  49. 49. ...and one (SharePoint) intranet
  50. 50. So this is what we did... • 60 people from all over the world in the same room • Half day web writing theory course to get a common understanding of quality content • Two and a half days pair writing workshops in smaller groups
  51. 51. + Word SharePoint +
  52. 52. 2. Cultural and organizational differences Language barriers People not feeling it was their task to write 3. Word and SharePoint gave us a hard time Use Google Docs instead! Lessons learned 1. We should have had more theory together HR, IT, Communications, Legal, business segments and more Half a day wasn’t enough to get everyone on the same page
  53. 53. Example #4 Customer focus at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  54. 54. 5 million pages sounds about right...
  55. 55. NTNU’s «web school» 90 participants, 1 semester, 6 gatherings: • Digital strategy • Customer-centric content, usability and user testing • Text, images and video best practices • Social media • Search, search engine optimization and accessibility • Content strategy and pair writing
  56. 56. 90 editors gathered in a room
  57. 57. What’s our objective? What does the customer need?
  58. 58. Takeaways
  59. 59. Pair writing helps you write to meet the need
  60. 60. Pair writing is outside some people’s comfort zone, but the results are worth it
  61. 61. It teaches you to focus on the need first, then the words
  62. 62. When you practise pair writing, you can't remember who wrote each sentence. You have shared ownership.
  63. 63. Pair writing helps you find common ground
  64. 64. Thank you! @audunru audun@netliferesearch.com @bbergslien bjorn@netliferesearch.com Slides and resources: bit.ly/gerry-pw

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