User experience design teams should not overlook content strategy and web writing in the product design lifecycle. Like Bill Gates once said, content is still king.
Some of us are wordy – we like to get our point across, but we do it in too many paragraphs. Sometimes this translates to wordy websites. Maybe you’ll read everything you wrote, but chances are, your users will not.
Maybe it’s an application, mobile or web, with confusing headers, buttons and calls to action. Maybe it’s a site with too much body text or technical language.
Either way, written content plays a key role in how your product will fare with users. Just like at an airport, signage is important. Too many arrows pointing in different directions don’t help users find their baggage. They need to read clear and concise copy along with those directions. It’s the same with applications and websites. The right written content–whether an article, button, navigation menu or call to action–can inform your users just as much as a beautiful visual design, and make for a better customer experience.
What happens when UX teams don’t focus on content?
- Teams will never know the true purpose of a website or app without auditing all of the written content to determine the audience or user base it’s useful for. This will pose UX design challenges down the road when designing for customers.
- Designing prototypes without the writing in mind will create the necessity for more iterations down the road – potentially wasting time and money.
- Maybe you’ll have a nice looking user interface, but in usability tests, no one can understand what that button is trying to get them to do. Maybe the text is too long or too vague. Now you’ve just wasted a usability testing session when you should have audited the content BEFORE your new design.
This advice isn’t just for websites. Applications that have lots of features like sorting, pulling and organizing data, need the right written calls to action, headers and menu names to make sure that even unspecialized or new customers can navigate with ease. Because who wants expensive and time consuming training videos for an app that should be easy to grasp from the get go?
These are some ways you can incorporate content strategy principles into your product:
- Ask questions such as: Are the navigation labels really useful for my user base? Do users have to hunt or search to find important functions/pages/tasks?
- Make sure that content is written in a concise, descriptive and eye-manner. Remember that written content can be on buttons, images, text pages, links and much more. It helps, especially with large websites, to do a content audit and figure out generally where your content is lacking.
- Seeking the talent of dedicated information architects and content strategists is a must for any UX team that deals with websites (which might be thousands of pages) or where there is a wealth of content and useful information that isn’t organized properly.
- Even if your product is small and you don’t have dedicated content strategists, get your UX team familiar with these concepts to figure out how your content strategy plays a role in overall design.
Abdul has helped over 40 Fortune 500 companies make informed user-centered design decisions through evidence-based user research and UX best practices. As an Adjunct Professor, Abdul has taught in DePaul University’s graduate UX programs and for nine other universities.