Image showing Red contemplating how User Experiences can be optimised through good content.

Enhancing User Experiences through good content

26.04.13

On the 19th of March, the UX Book Club Switzerland met to discuss another aspect of User Experience: content. How can we optimise content and its presentation? There are many aspects which can be considered.

The roots of good content

One of the keys to reusable content is the creation of good and meaningful content. To achieve this, it is important to involve and specialise the client from the very beginning. Introduce the stakeholders to the concept of content modelling and show why content should be written in line with the company’s brand and story rather than in the author’s personal style. Do not force them into any set idea of yours but ask questions and get them involved.

To guarantee consistency regarding the style of a website, start with defining a communication strategy. The real author need not be the same person which the reader perceives as the author: Create author personae which can function as representatives of the company. Construct a voice for these figures and use them to distinguish yourself from your competitors.

Good writers equal good content

Nowadays, where there even are machines which can create competing content, we tend to have too much content. But with content, the more is not necessarily the better: What we need is good content, content which is not just better than bad, but better than average content.

To produce good content, good writers are needed. In order to have a golden thread through all content, competent writers must be composing the texts. If there is more than one writer, it might be discussed whether a chief editor is needed, some one who is in charge of the overall content.

Presenting content aptly

However, it’s not just writing good texts that has to be taken into account. Your content has to be geared to your target audience. At times, it might be better to use an image, or write a short post on Facebook which attracts attention and can spark a discussion on the topic.

Furthermore, it is important to ensure that the content is always up to date. Implement routines to update articles in the CMS and integrate analytics data to detect and point out low-quality content to the authors/ editors. Implement work-flows such as content reviews to optimise the maintainability of the content. And keep in mind that content should be uncoupled from its presentation.

Adaptive Content: raw content

When it comes to the display of content, the device on which it is shown obviously plays a significant role. Reading a long text on a desktop screen is no problem, but trying to do the same on a mobile device sounds rather unpleasant. Does this mean that we have to create different content for different devices? Adaptive Content seems to be the solution to this problem. Its concept is simple: Create content which can be used for all kinds of devices and platforms. This implies that content isn’t modelled for one type of usage, but rather separated from its form of presentation and use. Thus content should be constructed in an organised, structured way, so that the various parts can be taken and combined in accordance with the respective terminal device.

An overall concept

In order to create good, reusable content it is important to have the overall goal of you project in mind. Think about the idea, the brand, the story you want to communicate. Think about every aspect, don’t separate things into design/ structure and content. Plan out your content by creating a style guide which defines for instance how texts should be written.

A further step might be thinking about if there is a way to offer the same content in different writing styles. While some readers enjoy a humorous style, others prefer a clean and sober tone. In the end, it is not just about the basic content as such, but also about they way in which it is presented: It is about the whole User Experience.