What happened to the content?

Her må vi ha noe tekst

Have you heard someone say “And we need some text here” before? I unfortunately do all too often, and on the whole I hear this once the customer insights, concept and prototype have been finalised. And by then it is too late for the solution to be changed before it is tested out. Working like this means you do not take content seriously. You risk delivering a solution that is neither relevant nor interesting and that does not flow well. 

Written by Jorunn Aarskog

 

But guess what? It is content that people come for. Even if it is a solution’s design, functionality and content that together determine the customer experience. Despite this, we pay little attention to content – not least in digital initiatives. It gets drowned out in scrum, lean, service design, MVP (minimum viable product) and tech development. It amazes me.

Jorunn Aarskog.jpg

Better solutions have good content 

Taking content seriously in digital solutions is even more important than before. Thanks to today’s digital technologies, we get bored more often than we used to.  We are less patient. Everything has to happen more quickly. We cannot focus on one thing for a long time. So, the least you can try to do is to deliver content that is both relevant and interesting! 

Taking content seriously guarantees you will create a better solution. I promise. When UX and content sketch out a concept together based on good insight into customers, we get it right first time. In our sketches we manage to make clear priorities. We succeed in seeing what is and is not relevant. And we accord more space to what is. The prototype we test has real content. Customers understand what we are trying to communicate and so give clearer feedback 

The work to produce content starts during the insight phase 

My wish for the coming year is that you put content at the top of your agenda. Particularly now that ‘everyone’ is talking about digitalisation, transformation, customer orientation and efficiencies and so view a company’s own channels as important tools. Websites, apps, chat bots, and spoken and social media have to be filled with content. Companies are installing green rooms, setting up editorial teams, taking photos, making films and replying to customers on Facebook. And CEOs are having to blog. So, to repeat what I said above: make sure your content is relevant and interesting.  

You should start working on your content during the insight phase. Fortunately, a number of major companies realised this a long time ago. And I have been lucky enough to work on projects where content was central from day one – projects that had fantastic results. This approached saved us a lot of work. And how pleased the customers were as well! 

I am not saying that it is easy. You will have discussions with the specialists about what the right content is, how simple it can be made, and which words and formulations should be used. I have made compromises throughout my time. But that’s fine. My tip is: be uncompromisingly customer-focused. Stick to this (as much as you can). 

How to create good content from day one 

So where do you start and how do you make it work? One quick clarification: content is not ‘just’ text. Imagine there is a blank screen in front of you. You have a problem to solve and a lot of insight (or not enough insight). What you first need to understand is who your customer is. And I don’t mean where they live, whether or not they are married etc. (don’t waste time when creating your personas). No, really understand what characterises your customers and what they need. Think carefully about why you want to communicate with them and what you want to say. 

Working on content quickly and efficiency is possible even in our MVP world. This is my simple recipe: 

  1. Understand who your customer is. Give them a unifying description, e.g. “People who have been ill for a long time”. Understand the needs and motivations they have in relation to you and your solution. Make a list of what they might be curious about and what you consequently need to tell them. 
  2. Produce your content and sketches at the same time. And do this at the start. Generally, working closely with a UX designer and/or a UI designer is a joy during an introductory phase. 
  3. Involve the entire team in creating the content regardless of each individual’s role. Yes, everyone. Content, UX, UI, architects, testers and developers should get to know the customer and the customer’s needs. And you’ll see that the entire team has good ideas too. 
  4. Be clear about who is responsible for what. Involving everyone does not mean everyone needs to do everything. Or that everyone needs to be in every meeting. Respect who does what, and who has final responsibility for each deliverable. 
  5. Make difficult prioritisation decisions as you go. Not everything can be included. Make your content as simple as you can. Then make it even simpler.  
  6. Use tools everyone understands. Do not waste time unnecessarily using a tool or model that does not work in practice. Pick and choose the best from different methodologies. 
  7. Test the concept out using real content. Without real content, testing will not give you meaningful feedback. Customers will not know what ‘lorem ipsum’ means. And, as I have said, they came for the content. 
  8. Improve your solution continuously. Content is also part of improvement. But make sure not just anyone changes the content according to their own preferences afterwards. Leave that to the people whose profession it is. 

I hope some of my thoughts have been both relevant and interesting. And, if you need help, you know where to find me. I would be very happy to share what I have seen and learnt!