How content strategists help teams build better products

At Shopify, we have rough guidelines for how a project should progress — from an idea all the way through to shipping. As content strategists, it’s not always obvious what to work on in each stage or how to prioritize our precious time. In this post, I’m going to dive into what content strategists should focus on at each project stage to have the biggest impact on their teams and create better products.

If you’re not a content strategist, no worries! You’ll learn how to integrate content activities throughout your project and build thoughtful experiences.

Through all stages of a…

Greetings from a friendly content strategist

When it comes to building products, some people think of content as a final flourish, words on a page or screen that can be written just before launch.

But we know that’s not the best way to do it! Thoughtful, consistent interface content is a core element of a well-designed user experience. So here are some of the ways I incorporate content throughout the design process. We’ll start with the role of content in sketching and work our way up to polishing content in high fidelity mockups. …

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This blog post is based on the talk I gave at at Confab Central in Minneapolis, USA on June 9, 2017 and at the Content Strategy Forum in Melbourne, Australia on October 6, 2016.

Every day at Shopify, thousands of people write content that our merchants will see. That’s pretty awesome. But it’s also pretty scary because we want our product to have good content, the kind of content that helps users accomplish their tasks.

Now when I refer to product content, I’m talking about interface content, not web content. No luxury of long paragraphs or entire pages. Maybe a…

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Ever wondered what it’s like to be your own boss, become an entrepreneur, or start your own business? Introducing Shopify on Snapchat!

If you don’t know what Snapchat is, here’s a quick lesson. First of all, it’s not just for teens. It’s a 5-second picture of your friend’s dog, a 10-second video of your sister’s vacation in Thailand, or live stories from snapchatters around the world.

Over 100 million people use Snapchat every day. Most people use Snapchat to follow their friends and family (the first time I saw a picture of my cousin’s new baby was on Snapchat), but…

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On Saturday, February 20, 2016, UX practitioners from all over the Ottawa area, including information architects, designers, content strategists, and developers, gathered at Shopify’s headquarters in Ottawa, Canada to celebrate World IA Day.

For the latest on all things content, design, research, and front-end development, check out Polaris — Shopify’s design system. It launched in April 2017, and it’s truly a thing of beauty.

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Voice and tone illustrations by Holly Schofield.

Shopify’s voice and tone guide

Even though we’re lucky enough to have an in-house product content strategy team, we can’t write every single word. That’s why it’s important for everyone at Shopify to feel like they have the right tools and information to write their own great content.

Everything written, designed, and built for Shopify should have a cohesive voice. Words, animations, buttons, interaction patterns — everything impacts our merchants’ experience with Shopify.


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Alaine Mackenzie, Lead Content Strategist at Shopify (taken by Lydia Krupp Hunter)

Establishing a content strategy team from scratch is a challenge — especially in a product company with no existing content processes. Since January 2015, we’ve been hard at work building a product content strategy team, and we’d like to tell you what we’ve learned along the way.

And what better way to do this than interviewing Shopify’s very own Lead Content Strategist, Alaine Mackenzie.

So what does a product content team do, anyway?

We focus on all the words that go into Shopify products. We don’t do marketing content, documentation, or social media — we plan and write interface content. …

Biz Sanford

UX manager at Shopify. More coffee please.

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