Integrating Content Thinking Into Your Design Workflow

Learnings from ConveyUX’s Content Strategy workshop

Julianne
Julianne
Mar 16 · 6 min read

By Julianne Burke

A workshop table covered in pieces of paper, post-it notes, markers, scissors, and coffee cups
A workshop table covered in pieces of paper, post-it notes, markers, scissors, and coffee cups
Photo by Julianne Burke of documents created and provided by Brittney Urich

In early March I attended Convey UX, a three-day conference in Seattle focused on the impact of UX design, the possibilities of user research, and the importance of designing with humans in mind. The agenda included talks on everything from machine learning UX and designing for the pluriverse to designing for underserved communities. There were also interactive workshops, social breakfasts and lunches, and guided networking sessions.

One of the most impactful sessions for me, a senior interaction designer by day, was Wednesday’s workshop entitled “Integrating Content Thinking Into Your Design Workflow.” Led by Brittney Urich, the session focused on incorporating content strategy into our design process, and creating user-centered content while accommodating business and stakeholder needs. Content strategy is closely tied to UX design; it evaluates existing copy in the UI to ensure it meets user needs and creates a seamless experience. I went in not knowing what to expect, but hoping to gain a greater understanding of how content planning and UX design can work together. Content strategy isn’t something I focus on, or deal with directly in my current role, so I was excited to get started.

Role Assignments

When attendees first sat down in the workshop space, we were split into teams and presented with one of five project roles: Creative Director, Facilitator, Project Manager, Strategist, and Subject Matter Expert. I was assigned the role of Project Manager, tasked with leading the team through the activity and keeping everyone on track. We began by learning what exactly content strategy is, and how it connects to UX design.

A slide explaining how content strategy and ux design have overlapping goals
A slide explaining how content strategy and ux design have overlapping goals
Content strategy and UX design have a lot in common (slide by Brittney Urich).

It turns out content strategy and UX design have a lot in common, like building around user needs and forming information architectures to guide the project. In many experiences, these two disciplines overlap significantly.

The Pitch

The day’s goal was to function as a creative agency redesigning a website for our fictional client, Locavore, a service delivering meals made from locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. While they are mission-driven and provide a great service, their website was confusing, basic, and lacked character. We as a team needed to reorganize how content was presented on the website to more accurately reflect the business goals of Locavore’s stakeholders, and the user needs of Locavore’s customers.

Site Audit

We began by conducting a three-minute individual site audit. Each team member took time to look through Locavore’s current website and take note of their initial thoughts on visuals, layouts, and the user journey.

Establishing Business Goals and User Needs

We then moved into establishing business goals and users needs. Through a brand brief we learned about Locavore’s business model, their intentions for website users, and the user persona of a potential Locavore customer. Using two colors of post-it notes (it was a UX conference, post-its aplenty) we individually brainstormed 5–10 business goals, and 5–10 user needs, before coming back together as a team and seeing where we overlapped.

Groups of pink and teal post-it notes are stuck on a table with brainstorm ideas written on them
Groups of pink and teal post-it notes are stuck on a table with brainstorm ideas written on them
Our team goals

Our goals included a lower carbon footprint, a variety of meal options, ease of use, transparency about the food sourcing process, and clearly labeled dietary aspects in each meal.

Communication Goals

The next step was to establish website communication goals. We set a timer and individually brainstormed the first things we wanted users to think and feel when they landed on the website. I noted that I wanted users to feel inspired by the dedication to sustainability, feel trusting of the food, think about their current system for purchasing food, and feel excited at the chance to change their behavior to incorporate Locavore’s easy, sustainable method of purchasing food.

a small piece of paper covered in written brainstorm ideas, along with some doodles in the center
a small piece of paper covered in written brainstorm ideas, along with some doodles in the center
We used scratch paper to quickly brainstorm what we wanted users to think, feel, know, and believe during their time on the client website.

After two minutes, we came together as a team to share our think/feel brainstorm ideas, and began an individual brainstorm for what we want uses to know and believe after they’ve spent a few minutes on the site. I wanted users to know the logistics of the delivery service, know their meal plan options, and believe this is the best meal delivery service available.

Brand Identity

The next step was to establish our brand identity. Using a worksheet full of adjectives, we marked each as a positive, negative, or neutral word to incorporate into the personality and style of Locavore’s brand.

A worksheet with 95 adjectives listed in alphabetical order
A worksheet with 95 adjectives listed in alphabetical order
Brand Identity worksheet by Brittney Urich

Based on this worksheet, we determined that we wanted the brand to be organic, simple, trusted, and dependable, but not luxurious or exclusive. We wanted the service to feel accessible to all customers while still providing high-quality food.

Content Mapping

We then moved into content mapping. Using a sheet of paper with four quadrants, we went through the current site and labeled all headers, sub-headers, buttons, links, and copy as “keep”, “transform” or “archive”, along with listing any new content under “create”. We analyzed which parts of the website had too much copy or unnecessary copy, which parts could be condensed or added to a new page, and which parts would benefit from longer and more involved descriptions.

Content Prototyping

After completing our content map, we created a paper prototype of our website using paper modules, and experimented with layout options. We referred back to our business goals and user needs from earlier to determine that high-definition photos of Locavore’s meals and quick statistics about their sustainability initiatives should live at the top of the page to grab users’ attention. These should be followed by meal plan pricing and profiles of local farmers who partner with Locavore.

A close-up shot of several workshop documents including content prototyping instructions and a website paper prototype
A close-up shot of several workshop documents including content prototyping instructions and a website paper prototype
We used the homepage content document on the top right to evaluate necessary/unnecessary content, and the paper prototype on the left to implement our content.

Learnings

As an interactive designer who usually focuses more on visuals and brand implementation than content strategy, I found this workshop extremely helpful. It gave me a better understanding of how to make decisions around things like communication goals, brand identity, and content mapping. In addition, I gained insights into documenting my team’s decisions to ensure we’re working towards our goals. It opened my eyes to how design and content inform one another, and gave me tools to improve my collaboration process and design workflow going forward.


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Hexagon UX is a global community built to empower women and non-binary folks to bring their whole selves to work — building confidence, balancing the ratio in the UX industry, and affecting change on a greater scale while fostering personal and professional growth. Join us on Slack, where we continue the conversation.

Hexagon UX

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Julianne

Written by

Julianne

Senior Interactive Designer in San Francisco, WAVE Advisor at Built By Girls, Editorial Lead at Hexagon UX.

Hexagon UX

A global 501(c)(3) non-profit community built to empower women and non-binary folks to bring their whole selves to work — building confidence, balancing the ratio in the UX industry, and effecting change on a greater scale while fostering personal and professional growth.

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