2020: Omnichannel presentation

Content design 101: Resetting the conversation around content

Sarah will talk about content design, a user-centered content discipline that shows how an entire organisation can run from one bank of user stories. This means all channels and communications are fast, efficient and coherent.

Sarah will share examples and experience from working with governments and organisations from around the world including how user journey mapping can show you gaps and opportunities and how a single word can break a user experience.


What you’ll learn

  • How to apply the techniques of content design to your own work.

OmniXConf 2020 - Sarah Richards.m4a - powered by Happy Scribe

Welcome, everybody. So this is our last presentation session before we have the panel of experts discussions at the end. I am so excited to be introducing Sarah Richards from Content Design London. Sarah Richards is the founder of the cold content design movement and was the one behind defining a process.

I have to keep it short because I could talk for ages about my excitement about this topic. But I will tell you that within one podcast episode on the OmnichannelX podcast, Sarah got me to the point where I'm actually using content designer as a job title now, in many circles. She's quite influential, you can take it that way. She is going to tell you about content design, give you an introduction to bringing a formal process, and unifying the content design processes in a way which really needed to happen. I cannot recommend her enough. Please enjoy. Sarah, take it away.

Thank you very much. That's lovely. I am just going to share my screen with you. OK. Everybody can see this right? Okay.

That looks good. Yep.

OK. So, hello. I'm going to take you back in time a little bit to the history of content design and kind of where the term came from, and then we're gonna go through what the process is, and then what some of the outcomes are. Some of them were funny, some of them not quite so much.

OK, so we're going to step back, it's kind of, thinking early 2000, when I joined the civil service, the British Civil Service, working for the government.

And at that time, government was publishing a lot of information on the Afghanistan conflict. Now, reasonably, at that time, you could say like "what's the government's policy there? What are we doing"? That's what we as citizens were kind of thinking about.

If you typed in government and Afghanistan into Google, these are the sites that you would have got, in this order on the first page of the results page. So, first of all, you will get the Foreign and Commonwealth Office because it is a foreign policy, right? That's understandable. Next, you would get another Foreign and Commonwealth website. Now, you kind of need to understand the digital estate at that time, in that most of these web sites had completely different teams.

Some of them will be sitting together. Others will be sitting in different parts of the country. But there's two, right, for Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Then Ministry of Defense, because obviously they're involved. And then the Department for International Development. Then you would have Number 10. Number 10 themselves had wide ranging limits on all sorts of government information, just the whole lot. Then the stabilisation unit. Now, I've worked in government for like over a decade and knew most of the content teams.

Nobody has ever heard of them. Nobody's ever met any of these people they're like, I don't know, phantoms. However, if you just look at the top left of that screen, you've actually got the crest for the Common Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Ministry of Defense, who have already got their own web presence, remember, these are all separate websites. Than the Home Office. Then the Cabinet Office, because if you're spending money, then the Cabinet Office is going to have a view of that.

And then the Deputy Prime Minister, you see where I'm going with this, right? There's loads, and loads, and loads, of these sites all having the same, not the same view, they all had content on the same subject. And you would go from one to the next, to the next, to the next. Some of it would be conflicting, most of it wasn't. Some of it would just be a bit odd. And if your original question remember, was "what is the government doing", you could honestly come back with the answer "no idea". Because what happened was government was just publishing everything it could think of. We did research at the time, and people didn't trust government. They trusted the BBC, because government was just publishing too much. I have to say, I'm kind of seeing that now, a lot of panic publishing going on because everybody is just publishing everything that they can think of. Everybody's getting swamped. Trust has started to drop.

Anyway, that was then. We had around three and a half thousand websites for government. It was an estimated amount because nobody knew. Nobody had one single view of how many government websites existed. So when you've got three and a half thousand, obviously, you need another one, because why wouldn't you? So three and a half thousand plus one orange one, called DirectGov. It's on the National Archives, if anybody wants to have a look at it now, it's kind of all there. It had a lot of ridiculous content like this: Keeping bees. Government doesn't really need to tell you how to do that. To be brutally honest, beekeepers associations will probably be the best place. There are some rules around it. For example, you can't have an allotment, can't have multiple hives right near a main road, stuff like that. But most of it, there's no need. But we had all of that information. We had loads of that. The publishing model, so that was the kind of forward facing. The publishing model was that somebody would write it, and often it could be anybody. Like anybody. An expert, somebody we, particularly with FCO, with some people sitting in embassies. It was 10 percent of their job and it was the 10 percent that they hated. They didn't want to do this, but they had to. Then legal or policy would sign it off. Now, I have a huge problem with the term sign off, because it actually meant that they could rewrite a lot, if necessary. And then everybody hated it, because there was this kind of back and forth and everybody would be shouting at everybody else in a very professional fashion.

But they would all have these arguments and you would end up with a compromise that nobody liked. It just wasn't helpful for anyone. That sat within a government model. And number one was kind of permission denied. You would try to make things better. And somebody up the chain would say no. You learned to be helpless. You learned to just, like, stop talking, because there was no point you weren't gonna make it better. You were just going to waste your own time.

You might as well take teeny weeny little steps forward because that's as far as you were going to get.

So it sounds very negative. Can I say, they were very lovely people working in there as well. However, 2010 Martha Lane Fox came along and said, you know what? This whole government thing, just stop it. I'm paraphrasing. I am paraphrasing, but basically said just stop. Don't start again. You can't really grow, like, evolve this. You can't move this on. You need to stop it completely and restart.

And that's when the Government Digital Service GDS happened. That's when we created another title called Content Design. And I am really sorry but there was a point to it. In government at the time,your job title kind of reflected what you would do. But we were expected to be proofreaders. So we were called editors and we were allowed to edit for grammar and punctuation, but that was about it. We couldn't really do anything else.

So, the whole idea about creating this title was to open up the conversation. What are we doing now?

A lot of people across government were extremely rude about the whole thing, but it was kind of okay. Well, being rude isn't OK, but having that conversation was just like, we're not doing this anymore. For a start, we're going to start with needs. And it's what the users want from us, not what we want to give them. Because we as government and policy people and experts in areas, we want to tell everybody everything all the time because we're so excited about what we do.

We want to tell everybody everything. Right? Because we want them to be as excited as we are. Most people don't care, to be really honest. They just don't care. So we're going to identify what they want from us, what they trust from us, what they need to get from us. And we're going to focus on that, and the things like keeping bees? You can get that from Google. You can get that from the Beekeeper's Association. You don't need that from us.

It's a multidisciplinary team from day one, and we went from seventy five thousand pages on DirectGov business link, which was for citizens and businesses, to three thousand. There was zero audience complaints when we first went up. I say, audience, we had lots of complaints from the authors, but we had very few, actually, from the public, the whole time I was there. And an 86 percent increase in positive comments. To be fair, it wasn't that hard. Benchmark was quite low.

People were moaning quite a bit about the previous sites. So that's kind of history. So we will move on to what we're doing now. We have a lot of titles in our industry. So we have content strategist, a designer, and an editorial writer, and a UX writer. The thing is that I found is that most organisations will use these terms interchangeably, and there's no kind of set definition.

I do find in the content design sphere, we're gonna go through the process in a minute, but a lot of people will say "I'm a content designer", when actually they're a copywriter, or they're a writer, or they're a content strategist. And organisations, A: really need to get with this, and B: you really need to have a look at the job descriptions about what is actually happening in that organisation. So these are my definitions only, by the way. For me, a content strategist will set the direction of what you're doing, and will define who is doing what.

Yeah. So it's what happens in crisis comms, for example, at the moment. That would be in your content strategy. Understanding what the messages are across your channels - that should be in your content strategy. Your success and your value criteria, because they're different, we benchmark them differently. That should be in your content strategy. That should show you what you should be publishing, where, and why you should be doing it.

Editors, writers, all of those kind of things are normally, not always, but normally given the constraints in which they will sit. So for example, when I was a copywriter for ad agencies, I would be told this is a tube ad, go. You've got tube and digital, go. You have, you know, a newspaper ad, go. With content design we don't, we shouldn't, have those constraints. So we kind of step up back. So breaking down, this is a quote that I had in, that I put in the book, in my book, content designers use data and evidence, we don't move without research. We shouldn't move without research. We should have an understanding of what people want from us, and we should have evidence to back that up. It makes conversations a lot easier than just opinion-offs. I've got an opinion, you've got an opinion, and whoever gets paid more, they normally get their way. Right? So we use data and evidence only to give an audience what they need at the time they need it.

There's another thing about, you know, you just have to, you've got, I don't know, a key page over here and then you've got the transaction over here. That kind of, doesn't work, so content designers work to understand the whole flow of what is going on. And then they put it on the channel that the people are on. This whole build it and they will come thing. You've seen it, right? There's billions of pages on the Internet.

You have to be far more savvy. So you need to go to them. With content design, you are always answering a need. Even if that need is "I'm bored, I'm on a bus. I want to watch funny cat videos". But still a need, still a need. It doesn't need to be these big, weighty, lofty things. It can still be "I need a new pair of trainers. Because these ones, you know, I don't like them anymore".

Whatever. It doesn't have to be government. There does seem to be this thing about content design is for government only, not true. You can use it for everything. We use it in marketing, in social media, the lot. Everything. Okay. So, business publishing is often push. You might have heard of push-pull publishing. It's quite an old advertising adage. Business publishing is push. You push it out and see what happens. You know, and you track it and you monitor it and you iterate and you get better at it, but you push.

It's like TV ads, or cinema ads, or whatever, you have to push. User needs are always pull. You need to do something to pull it towards you. Particularly with digital. Right? You have to follow a link, or go to social media, or you have to be sent a link, or you have to go to a search engine. Right? You have to pull. You can turn push to pull. However, businesses often don't. So examples then. Push, you might want to say to people "we're the best in the world", right.

But your users are saying, "I want to buy something from you". Push may be "we're fun and exciting", you know, "we're a great brand", or "we're an ethical brand", or "we're a whatever brand". Your users will normally say to you, "I want to get through a process, whatever process it is that you've got, that I want, and why I'm on your site, or why I'm engaging with you digitally. Whatever channel". Push might be "we're trustworthy". You want people to trust you.

Because if they don't, they're never gonna buy anything from you anyway, right. Pull is "I just want to get on with my life, sort this thing out. Whatever it is that I'm doing, and then I'm going to move on". Even if it's funny cat videos, remember? So content design isn't limited to words. It's limited to: what is the best way to get whatever it is that you are balancing your user needs and your business needs, and it's the best way of getting that information across.

Yes, so it may not be words, and it may not be on a web site. It's a process. So processes, research. We always start with research, which we'll go through in a little minute. Then we write them in user needs. What do they need from us? What value can we actually add? Because just blast publishing, that's not valuable. We need to give them something that makes us better than our competitors. Then we do channel mapping, so the whole lot. Where are people getting things from? What sort of bias are they bringing with them? What language are they bringing with them? Because that's the next bit - language and sentiment. Sentiment is around empathy, mapping, and emotion and how people feel about you, or the thing that you do. You can do three things. Basically, you can rebut, reflect, or re-educate. You do three things. You need to decide what you're going to do at that stage.

Then you create your content. The thing where most people that go into content design, that's amusing, is they can't believe how much upfront work they've got to do. But once you get to create, share, iterate your content, it is a lot faster. So we're going to break that down quickly. So user journey mapping for us is mostly Post-it notes. Now we do it on electronic boards. But we have yellow Post-it notes which are normally in a line.

And we have up to five scenarios going into a journey, because normally that starts to get everything out. So we have yellow ones for us. Each decision point in a user journey is a potential content point. You don't have to have content for that, but you need to decide whether you're going to. Then we have kind of blue ones that are on a skew, so they look like diamonds. And that's the kind of thing of "What are we going to do"? How are we going to get things across to people? What channel is it going to be? What format is it going to be?"

Then we have red and pink ones, which are pain. Pain points is when we lose people, as brands, and it's where things can go wrong, and misinformation can get out.

We normally find with pain points, the pain points are often shown later down the journey. If you have user journey mapping like this, you can find your gaps and your opportunities. You can also stop things like fake news, because you are stepping back in the journey. I'll give you a concrete example of this work, Citizens Advice. Citizens Advice is the largest advice giving charity in the UK. And you can go into bureaus, little offices, you used to, and present a problem and they will try and help you, if there's like legalities to it. One guy turned up and he said, "I'm going to be homeless Friday. I've got a sleeping bag. I've been sofa surfing for two years. Going to be homeless. I've got nothing now. You need to help me". Once the adviser unpicked his story, she actually found that two years ago he was made illegally redundant. He'd lost his house, his family, access to his children, because he'd been traveling around the country, sleeping on tables.

His mental health wasn't great. All because of this redundancy, and actually, all because of the redundancy notice was not legal. So if he'd gone into a search results, and just one, just one result, said check your notice is legal. He might not have had that. So that's what I mean. When we do journey mapping, we step back. Not like, oh, I was four and I got yogurt in my hair and something like that, far back, that's silly. But, you need to step back a little bit. A lot of journey mapping that we see happens on digital services only. That is not going to give you all the bias, and the language, and the sentiment, and everything that you need to know before they get in. Otherwise, you put in a lot of stress, usually on one page or a start page to a digital journey. You need to understand what happens offline. Right? Because it is as important as what happens online.

So we generally find mental models. There's a couple of different ways of doing this. We do use search engine optimization tools. We're quite vocal, content design, on them. We don't do search engine optimization as a separate thing so that Google can find us. That's not a thing. We use all the tools to get to the human, and then we just trust, kind of all search engines, to sort themselves out. So when they have updates, we don't get hit.

It doesn't matter when they do that. So we find out all the language. We do go into forums to check for digital language, because digital and native language can be very different, as you probably all know. What comes out of your fingers when you type is very different to what you speak into your devices, and what you might say in research sessions when you are talking to a researcher. As content people, we need to understand what people are saying, where, and on what channels and when, and with how much emotion, and all of those things to really grab them when we can add value to them. With research, lab research is always best, if you have proper researchers who can do that for you. But there are a myriad of different ways that you can do research. Not my expertise, but I'm sure there'll be links after.

With forums, we do go into them and we do have a look around to find out what people are talking about and to prioritize what is going on. We don't use ones that use logins or passwords, because generally we find that people think that it is a closed community, and it's kind of not ok to do that. But we will go and look around. So we use all these kind of tools, and we find out what people want, how they expect it. So, you know, this whole "Oh, let's do a video about everything", people will mainly tell you the format that they want it in. They will tell you their priorities and they will tell you the language that they're using. Then we put them into either user or job stories. Now, this is an agile methodologies, or they are methodologies. I'm just gonna go through one today because it's my favorite, job stories. I find they give you a lot tighter content when you use job stories. So each card, because you normally have them on cards, is "When...", "I want to...", "So that...".

So, for example, "When there's a particular thing, I want to do a thing so that I can achieve a goal of...". Having these user stories means that you get really tight content and you can reuse it. You can shop it on many different platforms. We use them across whole organisations, and it also stops duplication. We have a stack of different departments, all working in silos. I'm not sure if any of you have got that. You can actually stop duplication because you can say that user need is taken care of in this content, what do we do? Do we need to add to that content, or do we need to split it out, what do we need to do it? It cuts all of those conversations down. So let's have a look at an example for that then. This is on Gov.UK. It was one of my favorites. Not sure if it's still up. It's about balconing. Apparently, there's a thing called balconing. It's when you dance or muck about, on a balcony, when you're drunk or under the influence of drugs. It's called balconing. The Foreign Commonwealth Office decided to put up a page.

I live in Spain, it's also when you jump into the hotel pool from up there.

And jumping into hotel pools. However, so this is on a government web site buried, by the way, on a government web site. So if you were to write a user story for this, or a job story for this, you might say, "When I'm about to go on holiday, I want to know the safety features of standing on a balcony so that I can stay safe". This is not a user story, because it's ridiculous.

Nobody would ever do that, right? They just wouldn't do that. You certainly wouldn't go to a government website, would you, to find out that. That would be silly. So you would have others. So, for example, when I'm about to go on holiday, I want to know the local laws so that I can stay out of jail. That is a need. As a woman, I travel a lot, and I go to various countries, and I will check out whether I need to cover my hair, or whether I need to have long sleeves and things on for various countries.

That is a genuine user need. Finding out whether dancing on balconies is a good idea is not something really that you're ever going to search for. Wrong channel. When I'm about to go on holiday, I want to know what my insurance covers so that I can buy additional cover if I need to. Unlikely insurance is going to cover you for jumping off balconies into pools. Not sure; not in insurance, but unlikely, let's just say. You can run your whole organisation off of one bank of user stories.

So you have a sensible user story, one that you can, you can validate and you have evidence for. So you have these and then you can run your social media team, and your press team, and your digital team, and the whole thing becomes really coherent. So you have the user story, or job story, and then you have all the language, and then you have the mental models, and then you have the sentiment scoring, and all your kind of empathy mapping. Then you can have what pages it goes to. And suddenly you have really consistent comms.

It doesn't have to be the same, by the way, it just means that you have really tight messaging wherever you are running your communications. If you want to see an example of this, these are on Gov.UK. All you need to do is have Gov.UK, forward slash, info, forward slash, and then the rest of the URL, and the page will spin and you will be able to see what user needs are, off the back of those.

You do need to remember, we talked about it, or I've talked about it, mentioned it a couple of times. Not all the solutions are digital, even if they start on digital, or they end on digital. This is an example of a piece of work we did at Citizens Advice where there was a benefit that you needed to go for. And what we did was, the page was really dense information. And what we found was that people were not remembering it when they were going for their interview, that they need to go for.

So when you hit control print, you actually truncated the information, and pulled it out so that there were lines underneath, so that you remember the thing that you just read, and you could write it down, and people took it to the offices with them. Now, success and value criteria for that, whether the people were turning up with pre-prepared sheets, and that they were having a better interview. It wasn't traffic. Traffic is a vanity metric. It wasn't people going to this page.

It wasn't even people really hitting print stylesheet. It's having them go to the office and have a better experience when they got there. That is still part of content design. So content needs to be relevant if it's going to be useful. Dave Trott, who is a creative director, said 89 percent of all advertising is ignored. And you've probably got a lot of pages on your website that do really well, and then there's a cliff, and then they all end up down the bottom.

That will only work if you are where your audience is. So there are a couple of different examples I'm going to show you. This is a press release. It's about a bridge. If you are not near that bridge, or you don't drive near that bridge, you probably couldn't care less about that bridge. Again, if you swap, if you put that info into the Gov.UK thing, the page will spin, and you will see how many people look at that page, and how many people start searching from that page.

Now these are taken within six week blocks. Okay, so if you do this one today, this will look different. This is a press release then, probably better not on a government web site, clogging up government websites. Probably better on Twitter, or in the local press, or whatever. This one is a speech. It's actually a really important speech about passenger eligibility. So if you go on a train here in this country, you can ring the station beforehand and say, I need some help, and then somebody will be there to help you with whatever it is. If you turn this over, there's none. There's none, per day. I actually looked around at the time. I couldn't find this anywhere, and it is really important. This sentence here says, in fact, 71 percent of those eligible to use passenger assist don't know about the scheme. And when this went up, I looked around. There was nothing anywhere. And it's really important.

Wrong channel. Shoving stuff up on digital is not the be all and end all. Last example I'm going to show you then. This is, Gov.UK is split into two parts. One is where the departments can get hold of the content management system and publish directly, and the other half is where GDS Central Team publish, and the departments can't get to that. So, on the departmental side, this piece of information takes care of the laws around tachometer. These little devices that sit on the dashboards of trucks so that people don't drive too much, and they don't go over their hours.

This takes care of the need of "If I've got one of these things, what are the laws around it", right? So if we spin this page, it was one hundred and twenty nine a day at this time when I took it. And you could think, well, you know how many truck drivers are there in the UK? Maybe one hundred and twenty nine is fine.

This is on the mainstream page, so the bit the GDS Central takes care of, and it's written with content design, and accessibility, and usability in mind. Look at the difference. You've got this, or you've got this. If you spin that page, that's over a thousand a day. So you can see the difference. This is just writing for blip. This is content designed - with a user in mind, with shareability in mind. Right? If you're a boss, and you've got a fleet of trucks, and a whole team of people, and you need them to understand the law, which one of you are gonna give them? This one to read, and understand, and work out?

Or this one? Because it's there. These people have got jobs to do. They need to drive around. Right? So that's the difference between 100 and over a thousand. Then we get to creating our content in our content design process. So it does take a little while. Let's take a look at user experience in the first five seconds. And a lot of organisations, they'll say, "Oh, it's page load", and then its design. They'll look at the design, and they'll take that in and then it's words.

And this isn't true. You need to step back. First of all, nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, "I've got a brand new idea about something I've never thought about before". Doesn't happen. You have seven to nine, or seven to 12 unconscious points before you have a single conscious point in thought about anything. Right? This is hitting, stuff is hitting your subconscious all the time, and then you think about it. It's in academic papers, go look it up if you don't trust me.

So you think about it, then it engages your language processing, which for most of us sits in the back left of the brain, and you all start applying words to it. You all start applying your lexicon. Then you'll search, or go to social media, or somebody will send you a link, or something. By the time you've got to that stage, you already have emotion, you've already got language, and you've already got sentiment attached. Before you even do anything, or somebody sends you something new, "Why is that there?"

You are already making decisions about that. Then you pick from your results, whether it's a bunch of links, or it's your tweet stream or whatever. Then you get to page load. And I think this is the bit that people forget. And that's why content is really hard when you get to a site. There's an advertising adage that says that you have eleven, you have five seconds to get my attention and 11 to keep it.

I think now it's around you've got three, and five to keep it. You need to understand all that stuff that happens before you get to digital, to really grab that attention and keep it. When you are there, this is just a screengrab of a search result, all of those kind of, you get the snippets , or the ones with all the titles in, they're the sorts of things that you're already thinking about. That's where your language should be. Then you go on to where are the edges.

So if you think about what I was talking about earlier with Afghanistan conflict. You need to understand, where do you stop? What is the entirety of this? And then you understand, and then you start to trust it a bit more. And then it's orientation. "Am I on the right page? Have I clicked the right link? Am I good to go?" What we need to remember, of course, again, is what you don't publish is as important as what you do publish on the page.

And that's at page level. That's at tweet level. That's at architecture level. And that's like your whole ecosystem. So you need to have a look at what it's costing you, from content strategy perspective. Often if we are going out and we're push publishing, there's too many emails, I can't see what's important, I'm going to unsubscribe. Might be costing you team time. I don't know if any of you have this, but people sit in silos, and they have arguments with loads of people who are signing off concerns.

And your team can't innovate if they're tired, and they're arguing with you the whole time, they can't innovate. And it might be costing you invisibility. People won't see you. Please don't look for Wally, he's not on there, he's been cropped out. But it is very much like a Where's Wally kind of picture. If you can't see it because there's too much of it, what's going on? Content design is like having enough. It's enough to get you to do what you want to do, even if it's watching funny cat videos. It can also make or break your service, so I will leave you with an example.

In the UK, there was a government service, this is years ago, a multi-million pound service that had a 100 percent failure rate on the first page. It was only three questions on the first page, because they wanted to use the term NIN. Everybody in the UK has a NIN. Nobody knew what a NIN was. It actually stands for National Insurance number. The policy people wanted people to learn it because the back end staff used NIN instead of National Insurance number.

We had it in National Insurance number first. Worked very well. They changed it to NIN, hundred percent failure rate. Put National Insurance number back in, 86 percent completion rate. So that's for the whole service. So a single word really can break your service, start to finish. You don't need to be boring. This whole "clear is boring" thing is not even true. If I say to you three words, "just do it", you will probably be able to tell me what brand it is, and you might have some images in your mind. Starts with three words, "just do it". These are words that you've been hearing since you were very small. In the 50s, there was an advertising campaign. Some people say it is the most successful advertising campaign in the world, in history. I don't know. And it hung off two words, "think small". You don't need to be boring, it's not true. You just need to think about the whole journey that people are going through, what channels they're on, what language they're using, everything, and then present what they need from you, what value you can add.

So to summarize, then, always start with research. We don't just head off. Occasionally, I should caveat that, occasionally we might head off and do some testing pretty quick if we need to for a client. Your unconscious thoughts are important. Before you even get to the conscious thing, you need to understand what biases people are bringing with them. Accessibility is usability. If your content is accessible, people will find it usable. Your content strategy should have, A: you should have one, but B: you should have your success and your value criteria sorted out, who is doing what when, all of that so that your content designers can then start producing really good content for you.

That's my presentation for you today. We have questions.

Thank you so much, Sarah. Whenever I hear you present or whenever we talk, I'm reminded of meeting somebody at a party where you're just kind of sitting there all night, and the music sucks, and you finally find someone who's got really good taste in music.

I'm like, well, it's just, it's that feeling of, oh, I can find someone I can talk to.

I'm pleased it's that way.

That's exactly how I feel.

OK, we have thank you for for keeping that tight, because we have room for questions. I'm not going to, I'm going to get straight to them. Challenges in the prioritisation process. So you went, was it seventy thousand, or seventy five thousand pages?

Seventy five thousand.

Oh, I got, I wrote down seventy thousand. OK. Seventy five thousand to three thousand. How do you deal with challenges in the prioritisation process , like the decision making bit?

Yeah, you know what, when we did that, we kind of didn't ask anybody's permission. Just kind of did it. And nobody had access to the content management system except my team, so, there was that. Which doesn't happen very often. But, what we did do, is back it all up with evidence anyway. So even if we did have to argue about it, the evidence is always there, and we do that now all the time.

So, we will look at traffic on websites. I still maintain it's a vanity metric when taken alone. So, we will have traffic plus other things, on page search terms, and heat mapping and everything else.

But I will also balance it with the content strategy of what are you trying to do? So for example, when we go in and work with organisations, we don't do audits first. We do content strategy sessions first. What do you want to do? Don't think about what you've got, because you're just going to try and improve what you've got. And that's lovely, and you may need to do that, but I don't want you to be stymied by that.

So we go in and we say, you know, what do you want? What value do you add? What do your users want from you, and what do you want to deliver? Then we'll go and take a look at what your best performing pages are, or what's your offline conversion, or what's the funnel and all of those things. Then we'll take a look at that. But generally, we work to the priorities that the business has. So also, content strategy is run from business goals, organisational goals, digital goals, content goals. And we would prioritise off the back of that.

Thank you very much. I think, that reminds me of our discussion, when you were on the podcast, and we kept coming back to the thing of, can you show me a question that somebody actually asked, that is answered by this? What is the point of its existence?

Yes, exactly.

OK. A very good one here. I like this one a lot. How do you, how do job stories stop duplication? But I think the second part, which is important, how can you track who or which department has met each aspect of a need, since the user story isn't very specific and could span departments?

Okay, so that's a problem with the user story. The user story needs to be tighter. So what you do is, you have, you have your user story, and then you have different departments wanting to say something about that user story. So, for example, when I'm going on holiday to the Middle East, I want to know what the local laws are. So, you would then break that down probably to individual laws for you, for your content team, and so you would have that user need. If a different department said, well, I want to influence that, I have a view of that, you need to work with them to say, is this additional content? Or is this the same user need? And off of user need you have acceptance criteria. There's loads of stuff about this, and there's stuff on the blog as well if you want to have a look at it.

And there's acceptance criteria. So this need is done when? And so it'll say people understand what the laws are, people understand that they need to have their head covered, whatever it is. And so once that's done, anybody else can't produce any content because that user need is taken care of. That's how come it stops duplication.

OK, so it doesn't have to do with departments at all. It has to do with figuring out the need and then working together to address it.

It normally bumps into the department bit, because the departments want to do their thing. But you need to have a solid user need, solid acceptance criteria, solid evidence for that, that whatever you're doing at the moment is working. And then this conversation should go away.

I have so much joy. Oh, OK. Very important one. Have you ever had conflicts between a good solution from a content design perspective, I think I know what your answer is, and accessibility concerns? If so, how did they get resolved?

No, no, no. Accessibility is baked in from day one. And it's stupid things, and the thing is, it's what we've all been doing for ages anyway. It's things like shortening up your sentences. You don't have a 72 word sentence with high punctuation, who does that now? You know, you would get that in a book, and that's fine. But most of us don't, even in fiction books now, you wouldn't do that.

So you would shorten up your sentences, and suddenly you're opening it up to autistic people, to dyslexia, to people with reading challenges, to people who were just a bit bored, to people who, you know, are time pressured, or maybe those are massive pandemic going on and they've got other things on their minds? They're the basic rules to actually have accessibility baked in. I think a lot of the work that we do is just showing people the tiny things that they can do that would just open it up to other audiences. So I've never seen a conflict. However, if you've got one at me, well, we'll work it out.

Oh, this I like this one. Have you generally, would you generally align one user need to one page, or would you have multiple user needs met on one page?

No, it's not a direct correlation with one to one. Or it doesn't have to be, let's put it that way. Generally, through your research, you will see the mental models and you'll see the hierarchy in how people think about it. So based on their bias and all the things that they're bringing with them, they will work out, you will work out what you need to put on one page, and what you need to split over to other pages, and where the mental models are. It takes a little bit of practice. But, yet, no, it's not a direct one to one thing always.

So I think we could go for ages, but we're about to go into a Q&A session, which Sarah's going to be in, yes?


Yes. OK. So we will, I've copied all these, I've captured all your questions. We're going to stop and we're switch into group one, and we can kick that off with posing some of these questions to Sarah, and that will get the discussion going.

Sarah, so the reason this is all so tight, is because we got her at the last minute. Those of you who were watching the site, I think it was like two weeks ago. And so we're so excited to be able to have her. So that's why there's no break.

So let's all meet in a couple minutes in the Q&A. We're going to get those rooms started off. People have been asking about the slides, this was so last minute, I don't even remember, are we going at the slides for you?

Yes, I will get you these slides.

Great. So pass those to me and I will make sure that they are accessible to the whole conference. Thank you for making this last minute parachute into our conference. You've added so much. I'm so glad to have you. Thank you much, everybody. Talk to you soon.

Thank you.