A person with long hair wearing a tshirt that reads “I wish I was invited sooner”

5 ways to demonstrate the value of UX content (no presentation required)

Dave Eldreth
Vanguard UX
6 min readNov 1, 2023

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Have you ever been to a conference for UX content professionals?

If so, you know it doesn’t take long to find a discussion with UX content folks complaining about how they often aren’t included until late in the creative process. Both presenters and attendees will often lament the fact that their colleagues don’t see the value they’re providing, don’t include them at the beginning of the UX process, and don’t invite them to meetings with key stakeholders.

At the last conference I attended, one of the presenters was wearing a T-shirt that said, “I wish I was invited sooner.” Many of my content colleagues chuckled at that one. At another conference, I witnessed a presenter suggest making a presentation to demonstrate all the ways that content providers offer value. However, just imagine how you’d receive a presentation from a coworker explaining the value of the work they do.

Pro tip: If I have to give a presentation to my colleagues to explain the value I’m providing, we are already past the point where that presentation would help.

Why is content undervalued?

Content professionals aren’t being overly paranoid when they feel overlooked by their non-content colleagues. We’re not always included in general UX and product discussions, sometimes left off of meeting invites, and many times brought into the creative process a bit too late to fully contribute.

I think the undervaluing of content stems from the fact most people think they’re capable of writing. Some may think “how hard could the job actually be?” and assume their content counterparts don’t need to participate in the same ideation and design process.

The way some content providers talk about this issue makes it seem as if there is nothing we can really do to improve the situation. However, we aren’t just passive participants who are at the mercy of our co-workers’ understanding of our role.

Don’t accept being sidelined

As content providers, we should recognize when our colleagues don’t readily see the value that we’re providing and work to help change that. We should be asking ourselves, “Why don’t my colleagues think to include me in this discussion?” While collaboration is a multi-way intersection and we can’t control every variable, here are five tips that have helped me get a seat at the table and show how I can contribute as a UX content strategist.

5 steps to demonstrating the value of content on your UX team

1. Build relationships with your colleagues. This point may seem fairly obvious, but a lot of us who work in content are often introverts (myself included). Extending ourselves by proactively setting up one-on-one meetings with a stakeholder or UX colleague can feel foreign and even uncomfortable.

I know this takes extra effort, but it’s a critical step to gaining acceptance. When you start a new assignment, immediately take the time to connect with stakeholders and collaborators — even setting up regular meetings where appropriate. Establish relationships before the work begins whenever you can. Building trust is essential to the creative process.

If you work with a colleague who is an introvert (whether they work in content or not), be mindful that speaking up may not be easy for them. Let them know that their voice is an important perspective to have in a discussion. Before a meeting, ask them if they would be comfortable sharing their opinion so you don’t put them on the spot during the meeting.

2. Be engaged! Bring your ideas to the discussion. Ask questions. Challenge the groupthink!

If you are invited to a meeting that isn’t specifically about content, be an active participant in the conversation. Don’t sit back and wait until someone asks you a question or until content becomes part of the conversation. Speaking off the cuff is another challenge we introverts often struggle with, so I usually try to prepare a point or two to bring up ahead of the meeting.

If you’re worried about seeming confrontational, one strategy I recommend is to ask a question. “Help me understand. Why are we doing it this way? Have you thought about doing it this way?”

3. Don’t “stay in your lane.” Creating the best client experience should be a highly collaborative process.

In UX, the lines between designer, content strategist, researcher, and strategist are often blurred. We can ensure a diversity of perspectives by taking an inclusive, cross-disciplinary approach with the collaborative process.

For example, when I’m working with a UX designer or a UX strategist, I’ll often comment on or make a suggestion about a design element of the experience. Likewise, I make it clear to my colleagues that they should feel open to share their opinions about the content that I’m creating.

We’ve established a clear understanding that we all want the same thing — to create a world-class client experience. Our team has developed a level of comfortability that no one is going to take a suggestion or criticism personally. If someone on our team has a good idea it doesn’t matter who suggests it.

Talk to your fellow UX team members about the benefits of using this kind of inclusive creative process. I also recommend building positive professional relationships so you feel comfortable expressing an opinion about work that doesn’t specifically fall within your discipline.

4. Build allies. Your UX colleagues should be your biggest promoters, just as you should be theirs. When the UX team is a united front, the whole team benefits.

Look out for one another. If you’re not included on a meeting invite, your UX colleagues should ask the meeting organizer to add you. You should do the same if you’re included but notice that one of your UX colleagues has been left off the list. After all, the work product that we’re creating isn’t owned by any single member of the team. It’s a reflection of all of us.

5. Advocate for yourself. Don’t just accept that you’re not being included. If you learn of a meeting that feel you should have been a part of after the fact, talk to the meeting organizer. Let them know that you’re interested in the topic. Ask questions to show that you’re engaged. And ask them if they would invite you to any future meetings on the subject.

Also, let your design colleagues know that you need to be included early in the creative process. Explain that asking you to add content to replace lorem ipsum placeholder text isn’t maximizing your skillset.

What should a healthy UX creative process look like? On my team when we start to design an experience, we begin by collaborating on what the architecture or the flow should be. Then, the UX designer and I will discuss what design elements should be included in the experience. The designer will then create a concept, I will provide feedback, and then start adding in the content.

The process is highly iterative and will likely involve multiple versions along the way. This kind of back-and-forth collaboration is the only way to create a comprehensive user experience.

Showing your value every day

Content is a skill that is often undervalued or overlooked. As content professionals, we can work to change the common misconception that we only need to be involved at the end by showcasing our value every day. We can’t assume that fate will give us a seat at the table and that our colleagues will seek out our opinion.

Working to build UX relationships, offering insight during the design process, and advocating for our inclusion are all ways UX content professionals can demonstrate value (without having to give an awkward presentation “pitching” our worth to our coworkers). Try these tips and then — for better or worse — watch your calendar fill up!

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Dave Eldreth
Vanguard UX

I’m a senior content strategist at Vanguard working in the Client Experience & Digital (CXD) division.