1 October 2015
Peter Bogaards
Peter Bogaards

Experience design and content strategy

An often overlooked symbiosis of communities

Content often seems a forgotten area in organizations that are trying to develop in-house digital design capabilities for their customer experience. For some reason, service design and its customer journeys, interaction design with its sketches and interactive prototypes, and visual design and its color palettes, typography schemes and page layouts seem to be considered more important then disciplines such as content strategy, content creation and content management.

Many UX designers treat content as ‘stuff’ that needs to be in the containers of their sketches. Furthermore, when designing more visually-oriented data-driven applications with diagrams, tables, and charts, designers often use dummy data and focus on the perceptual dimension of the design. Hardly ever authentic content is used as design material from the beginning of a project and the experience designed for is the human experience in general, and not the content experience in particular.

In one of our recent posts (“Omnichannel customer experience: A new design challenge“), Jantine Geldof connected content strategy and the omnichannel perspective on customer experience. But there are more people picking up on the necessary collaboration between these two communities.

The Design/Content conference

The Republic of Quality is an award-winning user experience and content strategy duo from Vancouver (Canada): Steve Fisher (@hellofisher) and Shannon Fisher (@datawithasoul). Last August, the Fishers organized the Design/Content conference in which “designers and content strategists team up and learn from industry leaders to craft experiences and tell stories that shape the future of the web.”

We found these presentations very worthwhile:

Customer journey and content

“How to use customer journeys to identify user-focused content requirements and communicate how content can support a larger user experience.” (Kathy Wagner a.k.a. @kathy_cs_inc) ~ Watch presentation

Next level collaboration: The future of content and design

“In this talk you’ll hear why cross-discipline collaboration is essential to future-ready digital design, and how you can play a key role in creating the cross-discipline teams of tomorrow, real-life examples of what it takes to make effective collaboration possible, and practical techniques you can use to bridge silos, increase productivity, and deliver better project outcomes for everyone.” (Rebekah Cancino a.k.a. @rebekahcancino) ~ Watch presentation

Training the CMS: Building a better authoring experience

“A website that looks perfect on launch day, that’s cool, that’s a really neat thing to launch a beautiful, perfect website. But when we improve the authoring experience we’re improving the content forever. That’s a whole lot more satisfying.” (Eileen Webb a.k.a. @webmeadow) ~ Watch presentation

Crossing the killer content chasm

“Some practical advice, to help you and your content team offset that panic and efficiently be able to create the content that you have to create in the face of crazy parameters.” (Mallory O’Connor a.k.a. @malloryoconnor) ~ Watch presentation

Adaptive content, context, and controversy

“If you want to serve some adaptive content, it doesn’t mean that you’re not using responsive design. It means that those two things work together.” (Karen McGrane a.k.a. @karenmcgrane) ~ Watch presentation

Free guide for UX designers

Another recent attempt to connect content strategy and experience design is a publication from GatherContent: “Content strategy: A guide for UX designers”, a free 63-page guide written by Liam King (a.k.a. @liamking).

“This guide has been written with UX designers in mind, but the information, advice and examples will also interest content folk who work with designers, developers and other UX professionals. This hands-on guide for all UX’ers explores the intersection of content strategy and UX design on a website design project. We’ll show you how to embed content-first thinking into popular UX design techniques to reveal powerful insights about the content, that lead to a better user experience. We’ve worked up lots of example outputs so you can see it all in action.”

With the increased interest of the marketing community in customer experiences and content marketing, we’ll notice various kinds of activities in which the experience design and content strategy communities will try to connect, collaborate and converge.

About the author

Peter Bogaards (a.k.a. @BogieZero) is the editor-in-chief of our blog BiRDS. Peter also works as a curator and coach at Informaat experience design. He has been an online content curator avant-la-lettre in various UX-related fields for almost three decades, choosing what he thinks is interesting, relevant or remarkable to share.

Content strategy (20), Customer experience (78)