Content strategists and content creators are seeing their worlds evolve. Their craft is no longer confined to writing the perfect story for E-books, white papers and checklists. It is expanding to include crafting relevant, fantastic experiences for websites, podcasts, videos and other multimedia formats and platforms. With this expansion comes a demand for new skills, new ways of thinking and new steps in the creative process. User experience (UX) design is at the center, helping content experts look at their storytelling through a new, customer-focused lens.
Make no mistake, the written word will always be important. Relevant messaging and clear, concise copy are the “sticking point” that draw buyers into your story, urging them to learn more. It also is what drives them to click, engage and accelerate to later stages of the buying journey. But as more experiences become web-based, interactive and on-demand, UX knowledge is what will help content teams ensure that the overall experience is compelling and puts the needs and preferences of the audience above all else.
I certainly don’t expect all the content strategists and writers to drop everything and start studying the fundamentals of web design. However, having basic knowledge of UX best practices can create a smoother content creation process and also create a better product. Here are some ways to integrate UX more into content workflows and processes:
Think Experience First
During the ideation process, don’t just think about the messaging; think about the experience you want to create. What do you want your audience to do? What do you want them to see? What do you want them to share? What next step do you want them to take and why?
Answering these questions will provide a strategic framework for the experience and will help you lay out the storytelling elements and supporting messaging. Consider this your blueprint.
Bring Team Members In Early
The pivot to digital channels and experiences means all parties should be involved earlier in the content creation process. Marketing, interactive, design and content teams should come together to talk through the goals, audience and what, ultimately, the experience should look like.
This allows all stakeholders to brainstorm, align on direction and have clear insight on roles, responsibilities and even deadlines. It also allows you to spotlight potential hiccups that could be smoothed over earlier. For example, I’ve had very aggressive goals for interactive designs in the past and my team has helped me stay grounded based on timelines, resources and budgets.
Tailor Copy to the Experience
I’ll be honest, when I get into the writing zone, I can be a bit overindulgent. A once-simple concept turns into a 2,000-word opus brimming with descriptive languages, metaphors … the whole nine. When the design and web teams get their hands on the final draft, they’re left wondering how they’re going to adapt all these words into a great experience.
I know it’s hard, but it’s time we turn the traditional writing process on its head. As we craft our copy, we have to think through the best, most concise ways to tell the story. Consider ways to break down copy into charts, visualizations and even interactive elements such as photo carousels and flip cards. The power of interactive is in the smaller elements that engage visitors and encourage them to dig deeper into the experience. Your content plays a crucial role in this, but now it’s working in tandem with all the new design elements you’re adding.
Use Wireframes to Map Copy
When crafting content for microsites, web pages and emails, I always find it helpful to create a wireframe to lay out my content and gut-check my approach. Sometimes, our glorious design team is available to do that for me, but other times, I use LucidChart. I can fiddle with the different elements in real time and explore ways to edit and break down copy further. If my design and web colleagues have trouble wrapping their heads around a layout idea, this also helps us align on vision and direction.
Over the next year, I believe we’ll see B2B organizations expand their use of interactive and web-based content to create more native and seamless user experiences. By taking these four measures, you can be more design and UX-minded in the content creation process, which will create a better process for all parties.
Looking for tips to develop engaging interactive content? Check out Get Smart About Your Content: How Interactive Formats Can Create Immersive and Intelligent Buyer Experiences.
Alicia Esposito is VP of Content for Retail TouchPoints. Formerly a Senior Content Strategist for Content4Demand, she oversaw the content and editorial strategy for B2B clients in a variety of industries. She also helped company partners and clients with their content strategy and creation efforts and has a passion for crafting immersive and relevant content experiences using new approaches to storytelling, interactive formats, influencers and more. When she’s not dwelling over all things branding, messaging and content strategy, she’s spending quality time with her family, binging on Netflix or eating guacamole.