Identify content that meets user needs & business objectives
This year we are again sponsoring the UX Bristol event and the lineup of workshops is looking interesting to say the least. We took the chance to talk to some of the speakers ahead of the day. Helen Triggs and Mike Dunn, both User Experience Consultants at Edo, are running a workshop on “user centred content”.
We took the opportunity to ask both of them a few questions about their career journeys so far, gathered some career tips and asked about their upcoming session.
ADLIB: In a nutshell, what have been your career journeys so far, leading you to where you are right now?
Helen Triggs: The UX profession wasn’t on the radar when I started out 18 years ago but, right from the early days of my career at Ordnance Survey, I’ve been working on digital projects in some form or another. I loved how digital tools helped to organise and share information in an intelligent way so sought out projects that were using the latest tech. Through a convoluted journey I ended up at Edo, where I’ve been for nearly 13 years. Looking back, I was often practising Information Architecture and User Centred Design without realising there was a label for it.
Mike Dunn: I’ve been a bit all over the place. I joined Edo as a UX Designer almost four years ago, having previously done IT and Business Change at a big corporate finance company. Before that I did a Master’s and part of a PhD in American foreign policy, and during that time I helped found a world affairs blog that became unexpectedly popular. I had to quickly learn a load of tech, design and community management skills. The PhD didn’t work out, but these experiences are what got me thinking I’d like to work in digital.
ADLIB: What tips would you give a professional within UX Consulting to ensure that their skills and knowledge remain top notch?
Helen Triggs: There are some great UX podcasts out there, like ‘UX Podcast’, but my tip would be to widen your horizons to understand the situations your colleagues and clients are in, such as not-for-profit, tech or product management subjects.
For more meaty subject matter, audiobooks are a great way to learn on the go too.
At Edo we are lucky enough to have a great online community where we share interesting things we’ve seen or heard.
Mike Dunn: I agree. Read as much as you can. The GDS User Research blog and Gerry McGovern’s weekly newsletter are both really practical, and of course industry people are constantly sharing useful links on Twitter. I’m also a big advocate of making time to read fiction – it’s proven to improve your empathy skills (and it’s fun). I love podcasts too. Helen and I are both big fans of 99 Percent Invisible.
ADLIB: You developed a simple tool to help identify that sweet spot, where content meets user needs and business objectives. What were the reasons for you to look into simplifying this and looking into this in the first place?
Helen Triggs: Seeing so many clients not talk about the issues in an objective way. Or worse, ignoring them completely only to see those issues rear their ugly heads too late in the project. It wastes time and impacts the user experience. Unnecessary content bloats the site and is shoehorned into the wrong places.
Mike Dunn: We’re finding that more than ever, good content is crucial. You can have the perfect structure, UI and so on, but if the content design isn’t right nothing will ever really click. But it’s still so easy, for both client and consultant, to fall into the trap of creating beautiful buckets – which then get filled with irrelevant or poor-quality content. This tool lets you have more objective conversations about content.
ADLIB: What will participants be able to take away from and learn about during your UX Bristol workshop on this topic?
Helen Triggs: Encouragement and a tool to have content conversations early. Content is such a key part of what UX professionals do, so we hope to give people confidence to raise issues and not let them slip through the net.
Mike Dunn: As UX consultants we’re often put in the ‘UX = design = user interface’ box. So we also want to show how important content is to user-centred design, and to help people have those conversations with the senior stakeholders they need to be having them with.
ADLIB: Just for those that might miss your session, can you share, just in a nutshell, an example of a businesses or organisation that demonstrates a balance of user-centred and business-goal orientated content?
Helen Triggs: The obvious one here is GDS, they are relentless in making sure they only say what is absolutely necessary and they always start with user needs.
Mike Dunn: Slack gets a lot of hype, but I think they do this really well. Everything they say – on their website, in the app, in release notes, help pages, social media etc – is friendly, informative, and sounds like ‘Slack’. And it’s winning them lots of fans, so it must be working.
ADLIB: Also for those that might miss your session, can you share a couple of benefits that come when you adapt your business content to become more user-centered?
Mike Dunn: If you’re reading this you probably don’t need much convincing about the importance of user-centred design. We’d argue that content can’t be separated from this. Good quality, relevant content is a key user need, which means it should be a key business need too.
Helen Triggs: Absolutely, Mike. It’s amazing how few organisations properly join the dots between content and costs. They see content strategy as a luxury and are happy to leave masses of old, irrelevant content online that slows the site, increases maintenance costs, stops people finding what they need and dilutes their brand.
Thank you both for sharing.
UX Bristol 2017 is set to be a memorable day of UX workshops. Learn hands-on UX techniques from leading practitioners in a friendly and sociable setting.
Tickets and event info via www.2017.uxbristol.org.uk.