How to Improve Your Content
Back in November 2017, Danielle and I spoke at the Far From Avocados Content Conference: Publish or Perish. Ireland's very first content conference welcomed a range of wonderful speakers from Jennie McGinn and Cassie Delaney to Dil Wickremasinghe and Gillian Fitzpatrick - all opening the conversation surrounding brand content and it's future.
We were delighted to be asked by Aidan Coughlan (of Far From Avocados) to speak and after a busy couple of months, we're equally delighted to share it with our Good as Gold audience.
5 UX Principle and How to Apply Them to Your Content
Danielle and I first came together because we saw a real need for a partnership between great content and impactful design. Be that through a website, an App or digital marketing. Over 4.6 billion pieces of content are produced every day and although we’re consuming more content than ever before, most of this goes over our heads. The opportunity to create meaningful content is largely being missed. By applying User Experience design principles, this problem can be addressed.
Going back to basics momentarily, the definition of User experience design is the process of enhancing User satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product. The key word here being EXPERIENCE – it is my experience that makes me buy something again.
Every year there seems to be a new ‘fad’ industry trend; we’ve had the 'year of mobile' (numerous times), the 'year of video' and even the year of 'content is king'. Now we are moving into an age of experience, where it is not enough to follow trends. Understanding and shaping the experience we’re creating for our consumers is paramount.
Simply having content by itself is not enough. When you partner your content with clear and on-brand visual design, you create a richer experience. For example, I love online shopping. Not the process of actually buying a product online but for the delivery. Even though I've paid for it, when my little (or large) package arrives, it feels like Christmas. Opening it is more memorable than the online shopping experience itself. The packaging plus the content will create an overall brand experience.
We're going to bring you through five User Experience principles that can provide a fresh perspective for digital marketing professionals, particularly when it comes to content.
Research is not a new concept for marketing but the way in which we conduct it could benefit from a UX refresh. A phrase that Danielle introduced me to is “Pushed is better than perfect” which as a marketing perfectionist can be an uncomfortable thought. The concept behind this phrase is that getting something into the hands of your User is the only way we’re going to understand how they engage with our product, and this applies to content too.
A core part of Research within design, is testing and iterating. Involving the User at an early stage saves time and resources - you could spend months developing a text-heavy blog when your audience really want video. Give the people what they want!
“Design is really an act of communication, which means having a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating.” ― Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things.
Good research leads to a good understanding of your User, your Audience. The more we can empathise with our Users, see them as humans with dreams and emotional needs, the better-placed we are to communicate with them. Empathy is at the very core of good User Experience Design principles and should be at the core of your content marketing approach too.
Digital marketing in particular, has seen a lack of empathy because there are so many new channels to immediately get in front of your target audience. This has created a lot of white-noise. When we start to understand our Users, we can tailor to them more effectively.
So when Danielle applies generic demographic profiling to me, it might look a little like this:
But if you spent time to get to know your User, the reality can often be very different from the assumption. Danielle has spent (too much) time with me so she knows me. You can learn about your audience by digging a little deeper - online surveys, Focus Groups, hanging out where they hang out... Empathy creates a broader picture and a much more defined view of who my target audience is.
Okay, now we have a truly empathic campaign based around our real, human Users. The next point to consider when applying UX design principles to your content strategy is consistency.
Consistency is something we talk about every day with our clients. The digital landscape is overloaded and can be a confusing place for Users at times. In UX design best practices, when it comes to intuitive navigation within a product or platform, consistency is key. If I want to quickly navigate to my home screen, I’ll expect the link to always be in the same place. The same applies to Visual Content. Consistent Design presents us with an opportunity to further communicate our own brand’s ethics and tone of voice. Users will learn about your brand and will build certain expectations regarding this, it’s your responsibility to meet those expectations.
Think of The Happy Pear. You hear the voices of the Flynn twins, you see bright imagery of healthy food, you feel positivity and health consciousness - this is because they are consistent. Every piece of content they touch ties into their ethos, their culture and their brand. As a result, you're unlikely to see a notification like the below.
So now your content is truly empathic, based around real, human Users. It’s consistent in its tone of voice and visual approach. But all of that could fall down if we don’t take into consideration context.
Let's look at an example. This is Jimmy… take a good look at Jimmy. How can we predict how he’s going to respond to our content? We take into consideration his context. I’m going to schedule my content to reach him at 7.30 on a weekday morning which places him on his morning commute.
But what’s the point without meaning? We have a responsibility as content creators and creatives to strive to generate meaningful design and meaningful content. There’s enough Kim Kardashians in the world. When you’re strategising and designing what is going on a screen - think about why it belongs there. This thinking is truly fundamental to UX design.
Below is an example from the book “The Smarter Screen, Surprising Ways To Influence and Improve Online Behaviour”. In this example, too much data and information on the interface meant drone operators failed to notice SUV’s were filled with civilians instead of the enemy. 23 innocent people were killed as a result of 'information overload'.
A poorly constructed e-zine is hardly life or death BUT a surplus of information on one screen can create too much of a distraction, and kill good content. Often we think we know what’s best when it comes to our brand or business and the content we output but we should make meaningless marketing a thing of the past.
As always, if you have any questions about the above or what to speak with us about User Experience design, digital marketing or content strategy - don't hesitate to get in touch or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.