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@torreybird #SIC2019
Strategic Writing for
UX
Torrey Podmajersky
@torreybird #SIC2019
1. What UX content is good for
2. How to tell if UX content is
good
3. Who’s responsible for good UX
content
@torreybird #SIC2019
1. What UX content is good for
2. How to tell if UX content is
good
3. Who’s responsible for good UX
content
@torreybird #SIC2019
Good UX
content meets
business and
customer goals
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
Goals of
people who
use TAPP
• Search for
route
• Buy bus
pass
• Pay fare
@torreybird #SIC2019
• Plan bus
routes
• Maintain
funding
• Keep costs
low
• High
ridership
Goals of
people who
use TAPP
• Search for
route
• Buy bus
pass
• Pay fare
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
1. What UX content is good for
2. How to tell if UX content is
good
3. Who’s responsible for good UX
content
@torreybird #SIC2019
Predict how
well
UX content
will meet its
goals
@torreybird #SIC2019
Usability
ease of key behaviors,
even for beginners
Voice
consistent and recognizable
@torreybird #SIC2019
Usability
Accessible
Purposeful
Concise
Conversational
Clear
ease of key behaviors,
even for beginners
@torreybird #SIC2019
Accessible
Purposeful
Concise
Conversational
Clear
Usability
ease of key behaviors,
even for beginners
@torreybird #SIC2019
Accessible
Purposeful
Concise
Conversational
Clear
Usability
ease of key behaviors,
even for beginners
@torreybird #SIC2019
Accessible
Purposeful
Concise
Conversational
Clear
Usability
ease of key behaviors,
even for beginners
@torreybird #SIC2019
Accessible
Purposeful
Concise
Conversational
Clear
Usability
ease of key behaviors,
even for beginners
@torreybird #SIC2019
Accessible
Purposeful
Concise
Conversational
Clear
Usability
ease of key behaviors,
even for beginners
@torreybird #SIC2019
Voice
consistent and recognizable
Concepts
Vocabulary
Verbosity
Grammar
Punctuation &
Capitalization
@torreybird #SIC2019
Concepts
Vocabulary
Verbosity
Grammar
Punctuation &
Capitalization
Voice
consistent and recognizable
@torreybird #SIC2019
Voice
consistent and recognizable
Concepts
Vocabulary
Verbosity
Grammar
Punctuation &
Capitalization
@torreybird #SIC2019
Voice
consistent and recognizable
Concepts
Vocabulary
Verbosity
Grammar
Punctuation &
Capitalization
@torreybird #SIC2019
Voice
consistent and recognizable
Concepts
Vocabulary
Verbosity
Grammar
Punctuation &
Capitalization
@torreybird #SIC2019
Voice
consistent and recognizable
Concepts
Vocabulary
Verbosity
Grammar
Punctuation &
Capitalization
@torreybird #SIC2019
Measure how
well UX
content
meets UX
goals
@torreybird #SIC2019
@torreybird #SIC2019
TAPP key
behaviors
• Search for
route
• Buy bus pass
• Pay fare in
app
@torreybird #SIC2019
Onboardin
gGet started
guide
First run
How-to articles
@torreybird #SIC2019
Engagem
entTitles, buttons,
descriptions
@torreybird #SIC2019
Engagem
ent
Completio
n Titles, buttons,
descriptions
Alerts
@torreybird #SIC2019
Retention
Error messages
Troubleshooting
Badges
Profile ratings
@torreybird #SIC2019
Referra
ls
Retention
Error messages
Troubleshooting
Badges
Profile ratings
@torreybird #SIC2019
1. What UX content is good for
2. How to tell if UX content is
good
3. Who’s responsible for good UX
content
@torreybird #SIC2019
1. What UX content is good for
2. How to tell if UX content is
good
3. Who’s responsible for good UX
content
@torreybird #SIC2019
you
you
customer
@torreybird #SIC2019
marketer
engineer designer and/or
product person
customer
@torreybird #SIC2019
marketer
salespers
on
UX writer
UX writer
trainer
UX writer
forum
moderator
support
agent
tech writerSME
customer
@torreybird #SIC2019@torreybird #SIC2019
Create UX content to meet
business and customer goals
@torreybird #SIC2019
Thank
you!

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Strategic Writing for UX: Choosing Your Words Carefully | Seattle Interactive 2019

Hinweis der Redaktion

  1. Hi, I’m Torrey Podmajersky. I’ve been a UX writer and content strategist since 2010. I’ve written for Xbox, Microsoft account, OfferUp, and I’m currently at Google. Today, I’m here to talk about using UX writing strategically to meet the needs of businesses and customers. This talk is not about the tactics of how to fix the words, or which words to use or avoid – that’s a different subject. Instead, this talk is about giving you the mental model I use to make sure my teams understand why it’s important to invest in UX writing, and how we can use UX writing strategically to meet the goals of our organizations and of the people who use our UX.
  2. So today, I’ll be giving you a framework to bring back to your organization, to help them understand: What the UX content is good for, How to tell when the UX content is good And help them decide who is responsible for that good UX content We’ll start with what content is good for, And go on to talk about how we can tell if the content is good, And finish up with who’s responsible for that good content.
  3. So let’s begin with what content is good for. To do that, we need to know what the content is supposed to do. What can content do for the business, and for the people who use the experience the business makes? And which part is UX content?
  4. Content should help the people using the experience, and the organization who produces the experience, meet their goals. It’s that simple. So to meet those goals, we need to know what they are. We need to empathize with them—both the business stakeholders and the customers, the people who will use the experience For a concrete example, let’s think about a transit system. A bus system.
  5. Let’s say this bus system has made an app for riders to use. We’ll call the app “TAPP” for “Transit App” This is not a real app, and it isn’t a real transit system--it’s just an example. In this app, riders can search for bus routes, buy bus passes, and even use a code from the app to pay when they get on the bus. The TAPP transit system tries to make an easy system for people who ride the bus in their region. The app can’t be the only way for people to use the system, because not everybody has a smartphone.
  6. The goals of people who use the TAPP transit system app -- those people who do have a smartphone -- are to find a bus route, plan a trip, buy a bus pass, and pay their fare.
  7. TAPP is a civic service, but it still has organizational pressures. The TAPP app costs money to make and maintain, so it has specific goals for the app: Help it maintain funding: Make money through bus fares, but it also needs to be supported by the public. Serve thepeople who live in the area, and tourists in the area. Daily commuters and occasional users. The young and the elderly. People in wheelchairs and people with strollers. Etc. TAPP is doing well when costs are low, and ridership is high.
  8. If your business makes experiences for people to use, this is a simplified version of what you’re hoping to do. You need to attract people to the experience, convert them into owners or downloaders of the software, onboard them to use the experience, and engage them in the experience. If the experience ever breaks, you want to support them in the experience. Even if it never breaks, you want your investment in these people to pay off. You want to transform them into repeat customers, not only coming back themselves, but bringing their friends and family with them.
  9. But the cycle looks differently to the people you want to attract. People aren’t thinking about being attracted, they’re investigating. They’re looking, and they found your software. Great! Next they’re going to verify that it’ll work for them, and then they’ll commit--they’ll buy, or download, or install. But there’s probably a set-up step for them, even if it’s just entering their phone number, or setting a password. The people who get that far will hopefully start to use the experience. If things break, they expect to fix it. If the app is great, they may come to prefer it -- and even champion it to their friends and family. Great! All good. Now I’m going to walk you through how content helps spin this wheel--what content helps the business move forward.
  10. To even find out about your experience, a person needs to be aware of it. Maybe they see an ad, see it mentioned in an article, social media.
  11. After they know about it, they can check to see if it’s any good. If it’s consumer software, they can check the ratings and reviews in the app store. If this is enterprise software, there may be brochures or other sales collateral. All of it helps to get to the point of commitment.
  12. And then once the commitment is made, the software needs to be installed and set up. If this is consumer software, it may happen in the blink of an eye--just sign in! All good! But will people know how to use it, how to take their first action? That’s what a first-run experience is for, to show them around. But if it’s business software, software that is being used at work, there’s probably more to it than that. Maybe permissions, special configurations, or data entered to make it work for that business. And if it is a business, the person who made the decision to buy the software is probably not the person setting up the software. The get-started guides might have a lot of educating and convincing to do, even though the sale has already been made.
  13. Once it’s set up, the experience takes over. There are the titles, buttons, and descriptions--the core UX text, the words that are all over the interface. To use the experience successfully, people need this text. If it’s a game, or commerce app, or say, a GPS app, there’s also the game & experience content that the person is there for: the game narrative, the product descriptions, the locations and routes. And let’s not forget the how-to text, that gives people confidence and directions when they need it. Whether it’s articles in a help center or built into the UX context, sometimes people want a little confidence boost to take their next step.
  14. And then there’s the times when it doesn’t work: when using the experience isn’t going smoothly. Maybe the person has forgotten to do something, or maybe something has gone wrong Alerts and error messages are the content that tells them. Troubleshooting content might be in chatbots, or a help center, or on YouTube, or in scripts for support center personnel.
  15. Supporting people through a broken experience can make those people into fans of the experience, but there are other ways, too. Giving people badges for different kinds of engagement, and allowing them to get ratings in the experience, means that they have something in this experience that’s unique to them, that they’d lose if they went to a different experience. Experiences can also create communities. There are many examples of this: game enthusiasts who join forums to discuss the game, or people who sell on the same online selling platform, or teachers who use a particular classroom management system -- they join forums to share tips and tricks, and to be recognized as experts. Organizations can boost the attractiveness of their experience, and their brand, by providing forums, training, and conferences to use existing customers to attract new customers.
  16. So, there’s a huge amount of content that a business needs at different times with different people. And this content isn’t interchangeable -- a marketing brochure helps sell the product, but a how-to article helps a person use the product.
  17. When we’re talking about UX content, we’re talking about, primarily, this bottom half of the diagram: from setting up the experience, through using it, through fixing it, and coming to prefer it. This UX content is the content that the people using the experience see all the time. The UX content needs to work together with all the rest of the content about this experience, from this organization -- it needs to be a recognizable part of the whole.
  18. OK, so we’ve looked at what the content needs to do. UX content needs to help people set up, use, fix, and hopefully come to prefer the experience the organization makes. So now that we know what it can do, let’s get a little more focused on how to tell if the UX content is doing the work it needs to do.
  19. If we’re the team making the app, we want to predict whether the UX content, the text inside the app, will meet its goals. I’m not going to talk about UX research. In the book I talk about a few techniques—but there’s SO MUCH to know about research, it is LITERALLY IT’S OWN FIELD. I’m an enthusiastic supporter of UX research and consumer of it—but we also have heuristic ways to examine the content. In my book, and today in this talk, I’m sharing with you the heuristics I use to predict how well the UX content will meet the business goals and the goals of the people using the experience.
  20. There’s two categories we’re going to talk about: How usable is the UX text, and how consistent and recognizable is the voice? I have put the usability heuristics together from publicly available and private research, including from the Nielsen Norman Group, and researchers I’ve worked with at Microsoft. The Voice of your product is unique to your product. So for those, instead of giving you rules for what a voice should be like, I’ll give you a framework so you can decide what your voice should be like.
  21. Usability is all about how easy it is to use the experience, for beginners and for experts. We’re going to look at criteria in 5 categories of criteria that make UX text usable -- that it’s accessible, purposeful, concise, conversational, and clear. Let’s start with accessible.
  22. Every element has text for screen readers to speak If somebody is using a screen reader, like VoiceOver on an iPhone, they should be able to interact with the app. For TAPP, this is especially important--the app should be especially useful to people who are Blind or have low vision, to be able to use public transit without additional human assistance. Available in the languages the people using it are proficient in To do its job effectively, the TAPP app needs to be available in the languages that its riders use. For example, the regional transit system for Seattle uses English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, and Tagalog. Reading level is below 7th grade (consumer) or 10th grade (professional) How well people read shouldn’t be a barrier to using the transit system, so it shouldn’t be a barrier to using the app. Also consider that people who can read well sometimes, don’t always read well--like when they’re in a hurry, or when they want to ride a bus home after several beers at a concert. There are many tools to measure reading levels, using scales like the Flesch-Kincaid reading level. These haven’t been academically validated for use with UX text, but they have been useful to me when I work on basic improvements.
  23. The organization’s goals are met What the person should or can do to meet their goals is clear The text on the screen goes a long way to show people how they should meet their goals. In TAPP, the main goals are to find a route, and buy or use a bus pass. So the buttons on the main screen of the app are “Find a route” and “Buy a pass”
  24. Concision -- keeping things brief -- has two aspects to it. One is just absolute length. In English, buttons with 1 or 2 words convert better: more people find and click on them. If text needs to be read, especially on a mobile phone or a TV screen, it will “feel” more readable and be read more often if it is < 50 characters wide, < 4 lines long. These numbers are from trial-and-error testing, not strict academic study; this is what has been found to work by me and by teams I’ve worked with. Information presented is relevant at this moment in the experience It doesn’t matter how short the text is, if it doesn’t make sense to the person at that moment in the experience. For example, adding more information than the person needs right then, because they might find it useful later. If there is a point they will find it useful later, we should find that “later” spot, and tell them then. Keeping the language usable, by keeping it concise, means being very careful about which information is included, when.
  25. Conversational, here, doesn’t mean “chatty” or “casual.” It’s not about the style of conversation. It means that people can recognize that the interface is conversing with them, and they can interact with it. Conversation is the most basic form of interaction, and humans do it with words. The words, phrases, and ideas are familiar to the people using it Some experiences, and some industries, are full of jargon. That is, specialized terminology that has special meaning to the people in that industry. But sometimes, people use unusual, formal, or incredibly specific words when plain words would work better. For example, imagine you heard the phrase, “Take care when disembarking the vehicle.” If the goal is to increase usability, you’d be better off saying, “Be careful getting off the bus.” Directions are presented in useful steps, in a logical order Imagine these two sets of instructions: To pay your bus fare, scan the QR code that appears when you tap Pay Fare. To pay your bus fare, get on the bus, tap Pay Fare, and scan the QR code. The more usable set of instructions is the second one -- the steps are in the order they will actually be used.
  26. Actions have unambiguous results When an action the person took was successful -- or an action that the organization took -- we often let people know those results using text. That text should be unambiguous. How-to and policy info is easy to find There’s an axiom that “if the UI is clear enough, nobody will need any how-to content.” Frankly, that’s not a reasonable goal. There are plenty of people who won’t feel comfortable using the experience until they know they’re doing it right. So making it clear that help is available is part of making the experience clear. Error messages help the person move forward or make it clear they can’t If the error messages don’t make it clear what to do, and don’t at least make it clear that the person can’t do what they tried to do, then the error messages aren’t as clear as they need to be. The same term means the same concept, every time it’s used Terminology are the words that have specific meaning in the experience, that are narrowly defined. When an experience uses terminology, it needs to be used consistently for only that one meaning--and not used for anything else. An example are Xbox Achievements and Gamerscore.
  27. The voice is what makes the experience reflect the brand, the organization. Every experience will have its own voice, and we get to use content to design that voice. The voice’s purpose is to be identifiable and recognizable. The Voice your product is unique to your product. So for those, instead of giving you rules for what a voice should be like, I’ll give you a framework so you can decide what your voice should be like. As the TAPP organization, we know people develop relationships with their cars, and with driving alone. If that’s in heavy traffic, it might not be a good relationship. As the transit agency, we want people to develop a happy relationship with riding transit, to believe that it’s a good thing for the community, and to have a preference for transit over any of their other transportation options. There are 6 properties of the voice that we are in control of: The concepts, vocabulary, verbosity, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. Let’s go through them.
  28. Concepts, from a voice perspective, are the ideas or topics that the experience decides to emphasize at any open opportunity. Part of what makes a person’s voice recognizable are the topics they talk about--and recognizing a product is the same. We can design the product voice, and specify in advance those concepts that we think will support the product principles. For example, an app for a transit system might want to emphasize timeliness and “green” behavior. Instead of just saying “route takes 45 minutes over 7.9 kilometers,” what if it also included “and saves 800 grams of CO2 compared to driving alone”
  29. Vocabulary is all about which words you choose to use. If you want to get across the idea that your product is efficient, do you say rapid? Or speedy? Alacritous? Fast? Or that it saves time? By specifying which words are in voice, and which words are out of voice, the whole product can stay consistent.
  30. Verbosity is all about how many words the experience uses. While it’s good to be concise, that concision can go too far: if you use too few words, the experience can feel terse, unfriendly, robotic. Or, like in a banking app, it can feel too lightweight for a serious exchange of money. The number of words can help set a personality, so it should be decided upon as an attribute of voice.
  31. Natural language gives us a rich variety of ways to use language. To maximize usability, simple grammatical structures work best for most purposes. In English, that means simple subject-predicate sentences, or verb-object imperative directions, such as “The bus accepts correct change and transit passes” and “Add money to your transit pass.” However, merely maximizing usability can result in a robotic, impersonal tone. By choosing the sentence structures and other grammar that support your product’s voice, you have an opportunity to define the right balance of usability and personality for the experience.
  32. Punctuation and capitalization can make a huge difference. Consider getting a text message that says “thank you” If it’s just Thank you, capital T, no punctuation, it’s pretty standard. If it’s Thank You, capital T, capital Y, with a period at the end, it’s serious – and maybe a little weird If it’s THANK YOU!!!, all caps, three exclamation marks! – the person is really grateful and surprised, and probably happy. If it’s thank you, no capitals, no punctuation, it’s kind of quiet. Grateful, but not happy. We communicate a lot with punctuation and capitalization. When we design it ahead of time, we can then judge whether any given piece of text is consistent with that design, and whether it’ll help people recognize and prefer it.
  33. But we can do more than predict how well the UX content will work. When we have shipped it, we can measure it. The goodness of the content is based on how well the content is doing the work it needs to do, so how do we measure how well the work is done?
  34. So let’s go back to this cycle -- specifically zooming in on this UX portion, from set up through prefer. To talk about measurement, we need to talk about what’s *important to measure.* For UX, the important thing to measure is what I’m calling a “Key behavior.”
  35. What is a key behavior? It’s a task a person needs to do in the app, that is important to both the person and to the business. That is, to meet both its organizational goals and to meet the goals of the people who use it, the TAPP app needs people to be using it to do these three key behaviors: Search for routes Buy bus passes And Pay fares in app
  36. There are a couple of good ways to measure the UX. First, with onboarding pace: which is average time it takes for people to complete the first, or all of their key behaviors. If people aren’t onboarding to the experience, content can help. There are the get-started guides, usually coming separate from the experience. There are also “first run experiences,” that might even walk a person through their first key behavior. And there are how-to articles, that give people directions for how to do what they’re there for. These are all pieces of content that we can A/B test. We can show some riders the first-run experience, and not show it to others. If the riders who see it complete the key behaviors faster, then it’s more successful. It’s science! If we make updates to the first-run experience, and the riders complete those key behaviors faster, then it’s even more successful. Changes to that content can be a/b tested to shorten the onboarding pace, and increase the onboarding percent.
  37. Engagement is how active people are in the experience, usually measured as the number of people who are active in the experience. This can be each day, as Daily Active Users (DAU) or Monthly Active Users (MAU) But to measure the content in the UX, we need to think more granularly. How many people are active in each of the key behaviors? Is this the right mix for the business to succeed? Are people tending to get the value out of the experience that they were looking for? If engagement is low for a particular behavior, then the content should be examined to make sure it’s doing its work. It’s possible that people just aren’t interested – content can’t fix that – but what if they can’t find it? What if they find it hard to use? If it has the wrong name or label, or is described in ways that don’t resonate with people, then people won’t find it usable or attractive. Changes to the content should be A/B tested to make improvements to engagement.
  38. Beyond just being active in the experience, Completion is about the percentage of people who engaged, who also completed the key behavior. This is different from engagement, where people are active in that behavior. Completion is about completing the activity that drives business value. If there’s a big difference between the number of people who start, and the number of people who complete the action, that means people aren’t getting all the way to the end. They aren’t meeting business goals, and they probably aren’t meeting their own goals. The barriers inside the activity should be examined. Content can be one of those barriers, and it also can be an unblocker. For example, if the problem is that people get confused about the right way to continue, the content should be adjusted to clarify the path.
  39. If engagement can be summarized as “people per day”, then retention can be summarized as “days per person.” Lots of organizations making experiences will want people to come back to those experiences over and over again. Whether this is measured as “how many times does the average person open the app” or “how many times does the average person ride the bus,” retention can be an indicator of abiding interest in the experience. Because it is related to loyalty, retention can be an indicator of brand affinity, and how the experience makes them feel. When we make major changes to the UX content, especially to the brand and voice, we should measure the effect on retention.
  40. Referrals happen when people who use the experience recommend it to more people. People can recommend TAPP to other people using the app itself, by sharing a route in a text message or link. TAPP could also provide “Invite a friend” promotions, badges, or opportunities to grow the number of people who come to the experience and engage in the key behaviors. When number of referrals increase or decrease after a major change to the experience, whether that’s a change to functionality, usability, or brand, the experience change had an effect on the rate of referral.
  41. I’ve talked about predicting whether content will be good, using heuristics And about directly measuring and iterating the content, using A/B testing. But from this talk I’ve left out a huge source of information: UX Research methods like usability testing, surveys, interviews, and much more. There’s just too much for one short talk! But it is in the book (so get the book!)
  42. OK. So we’ve seen what UX content can do for us, and we’ve seen a few ways we can tell if that content will be good at doing those things, and if it is good at doing those things. So who is making that content? Who is deciding on it, testing it, and measuring it? Let’s take a look at who might be writing that text.
  43. Let’s go back to the wheel of content We’ll take the simplest case: You’re a coder, designer, and founder. You’re making your own app, and it’s all up to you. There are some parts of this you’re not going to do, but the parts that do get done, are you. You can still make the text usable -- accessible, purposeful, concise, conversational, and clear. You can design a voice for your app that is consistent, recognizable, and helps meet your goals. You can instrument your app so that you can tell how well people onboard, how many are engaged, and measure your retention and referrals. You can do it! Go you!
  44. Or maybe you have a start-up size organization -- large enough to have separate people doing marketing, engineering, and inventing the product that will meet the customer and business goals. This is a little tougher to get everybody on the same page, but it’s so much more possible to do the work! Together, the UX or product person and the engineer can still make the text usable. Together with the marketer, the three of you can design and use a voice in your experience that is consistent, recognizable, and helps meet your goals.
  45. Or maybe you have an army of people, say at large company, who all create content for the same experience. Not only marketing, but sales, UX writer, subject matter experts, tech writers, support agents, forum moderators, and trainers. It’s more important than ever that the text in the experience be usable. Look at all these people who depend on the business working! It’s also more important than ever that the text in the experience have a consistent voice. There are so many people working together, that having consistent guidance about the voice of the experience is essential to make the experience be recognizable. By tackling the UX content strategically, to focus the content on meeting both the goals of the organization and the goals of the people using the experience, all of the content gets better at doing the work it’s meant to do.
  46. So – the bottom line – No matter who is writing the text on the screen, that text is going to be half of the experience people have. Text is half of the UX, half of what people interact with. I work on UX because I love it. I love that “No matter where you go on this planet, somebody is looking at a screen. And they're relying on that screen for a lot of stuff.” (-Dietrich) Somebody is writing your UX text. Do they have what they need to make it good? Let’s go help people do what they came to our experiences to do.
  47. What we’ve covered today are the main themes from chapters 1 and 6 in my book, Strategic Writing for UX. If you have questions or want to connect, I’m the only Torrey Podmajersky on the internet, and I’m torreybird on Twitter.