Breaking Development: Using Content To Define User Experience

by October 22, 2013

In her presentation at Breaking Development in Nashville TN, Steph Hay talked about the importance of narrative in digital experiences. Here's my notes from her talk on Using Content To Define User Experience.

  • The Sesame Street TV show was based on actual research of how kids learned and continually measured to make sure it was reaching their educational goals. They approached content development by isolating chunks of programming, testing it, and continually refining.
  • The big paradigm shift was learning first then writing second.
  • Content and technology that guides people over time forms a narrative that allows people to act.
  • Use cases in software design tend to be very flow-focused and high level. Requirements docs just focus on the what. Content is the missing piece in everything we're doing.
  • When content really works, we can get from point A to B more quickly and easily.
  • Use content to explicitly set expectations then meet them regardless of device.
  • Design is only part of the narrative, the other half is the real human people that experience what we are designing.
  • The "you" orientation of content focuses on the user, not on the company. It positions the customer as the other half of the narrative.
  • Features by themselves won't protect your narrative, you also need relevance.
  • There are two kinds of narratives online: setting expectations (through marketing), and functional requirements (through experience).
  • Write content first. This is the paradigm shift.
  • Many organizations are afraid to write content first because they are used to writing it last. But this results in missing pieces and incomplete experiences.
  • State your goal: what are you trying to accomplish, what are your users trying to accomplish.
  • You can use tools like Google Keyword builder and Google Analytics to find the language people are using to find you. What terms make sense for them? Use these terms to create a conversation.
  • The content is the structure. This is why it makes sense to start there.