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Content Strategy Isn't Just for Content People40:13 with Sarah Richards
Anything with strategy in the title has the potential to be dry, dusty and eyes-glaze-over boring. But content strategy has an effect on every part of digital, whether you are a content person or not. There’s examples of where design stopped the British government from staying with a use-jargon-first-so-we-sound-clever content style and where dev, design and content working together can keep people out of food banks. Using examples from the Government Digital Service, Citizens Advice and more, Sarah will cover why content strategy isn’t a dusty, ignorable, bore-fest. It’s the point of publishing digitally.
Hello, so you all know who I am, and I don't know who you are. 0:04 Which is a bit rude on your part, I'd like to point out. 0:09 How many designers have we got? 0:11 Very bright, can't see. 0:13 Okay, how many developers? 0:16 Oh. 0:20 How many content people? 0:21 Oh come on, hello. 0:23 [LAUGH] You're my favorites. 0:25 Anybody else? 0:26 Like product or delivery? 0:29 Sorry? 0:32 >> Project managers. 0:32 >> Project managers. 0:33 It's just you, sir. 0:34 Still, hello. 0:36 >> [INAUDIBLE] right. 0:38 >> [LAUGH]. 0:39 Okay, so at the moment, you're all lovely. 0:41 You're all in your disciplines. 0:43 But, by the end of today, 0:47 I want to get you to love your inner content strategist, because you have one. 0:49 I'm going to release them today, if you've never seen one. 0:55 I'm not saying you are one, I'm saying that you have a little bit of one. 0:59 Somewhere. 1:03 Who's seen a content strategy? 1:04 [INAUDIBLE] Okay. 1:08 Who knows what one is? 1:12 Okay, couple who seen one in the past six months. 1:15 Yeah, that's about right. 1:19 All right, let's start with that. 1:21 We'll start with a content strategies. 1:23 This was written in 2007 by Rachel Lovinger. 1:26 The main goal of content strategy is to use words and data to create 1:30 unambiguous content that supports meaningful interactive experiences. 1:34 We have to be experts in all aspects of communication 1:39 in order to do this effectively. 1:42 Now, in 2007 when she said this content strategy as a term 1:45 was starting to come to the full. 1:49 And it caused a little bit of a hoo-ha. 1:51 A lot of content people said, 1:54 what do you mean, I have to be an expert in all forms of communication? 1:56 That makes me, a jack of all trades, right? 2:01 And master of none. 2:04 I'm good at writing, I'm good at video, I'm good at tools, I'm good at this. 2:05 Can't do this. 2:09 So, this was in 2007. 2:11 As I say, caused a little bit of a storm fast forward, 2010. 2:12 Not with that clicker cuz it's not working. 2:16 And brain traffic, led by Christina Halverson, 2:21 who wrote a brilliant book, came out with this. 2:25 And this is pretty much what we all do. 2:28 So these red bits, workflow and governance. 2:31 They're the sort of boring bits really. 2:35 They're not the boring bits, they're the people bits. 2:41 They're the people that do your core strategy. 2:43 Now, your core strategy is a dream. 2:47 So, when I went down to the beta of the Government Digital Service 2:50 to do government, my dream, content strategy dream, 2:55 that core bit was to make government language so understandable, 2:59 it would be accessible for anybody who was interested enough to go looking for it. 3:05 So, it's not a process. 3:10 It's literally an aspiration. 3:12 Those red bits are the people bits that help that aspiration come to life. 3:13 So, it's kind of workflow is is how it gets from writer to editor to Sub-ed, 3:17 or whatever. 3:22 Governance is who has to sign it off those sorts of things. 3:24 A little note for you, there was a government department, 3:28 who will remain nameless, who had a 27 point approval process. 3:32 Took three months for 3:36 every piece of content to go up, needed to go through 27 people. 3:38 Not now, I'd like to point out, but that's what it was like a few years ago. 3:42 So, those are the bits. 3:48 Those are human bits, and the blue bits are the content bits. 3:48 Substance is what you say. 3:53 It's your tone. 3:56 It's the data that you use to get that sort of thing. 3:57 It's your messaging. 4:01 It's all those sorts things. 4:02 And structure is how you say it. 4:04 So, on what channel. 4:07 What's your architecture. 4:08 All those sorts of things. 4:10 I want to concentrate on the blue bits on the substance and 4:12 the structure today, because it is the thing that affects 4:16 the people that we care about or should care about the most. 4:20 Which is the users. 4:24 So, that's what we're going to start with today, let's talk about them. 4:25 Number one. 4:30 They are human. 4:31 Stay with me. 4:32 It's a basic kind of thing. 4:34 But I think, some people particularly government, 4:36 at one point got lost with that. 4:38 All user experience everything we do, 4:41 everything we design, develop or write for should be for the human. 4:42 I think and not for the organization necessarily who's spouting is out [COUGH]. 4:47 I'm gonna tell you, a little bit of a story about humans and 4:54 how they might behave. 4:58 I'm a single mom, I've got three kids and moved recently. 5:01 My nearest backup is 40 minutes away. 5:04 My kids are in bed. 5:08 I'm downstairs. 5:09 I'm there with my cinnamon and vanilla herbal infusion. 5:10 I've got 17 different types of tea in my house. 5:13 I like tea. 5:15 I'm just about sit down, get a book out, lovely. 5:17 I hear this weak cry from upstairs. 5:19 Mom, I've got a rash. 5:23 I put my tea down. 5:27 Internally, I'm thinking how do you know your light is off and 5:28 your eyes should be shut, unless you've got that funny little torch thing 5:32 that your grandmother gave you that I expressly told her not to buy for you? 5:36 Unless, you've got that on how do you even know you have a rash? 5:40 Outwardly, trotting upstairs. 5:43 All right, sweetie. 5:45 It's probably just a heat rash. 5:46 Let's have a look. 5:47 Having a look at this rash and I stop dead. 5:49 That's not a heat rash. 5:51 That's something I haven't seen before. 5:52 Okay. Let's just your take temperature. 5:56 Do the tumbler test. 5:58 Got no. 6:00 No, wrong. 6:01 It's not meningitis then, 6:02 suddenly my ability to think has gone from that to that. 6:04 My vocabulary has gone from that to that. 6:08 This isn't a minor inconvenience that takes me away from my tea. 6:11 My kid, obviously, has some flesh eating disease that will kill him in the next 6:15 two minutes and it's all my fault for not. 6:20 So, this is all going on internally obviously. 6:24 Outwardly, I'm like okay, I'll just go look it up. 6:27 We need sixty seconds downstairs, I've got my wallet in my back pocket, 6:30 my keys are in my hand, my phone is in the other hand, 6:34 my foot is out the door and I'm ready to go to my neighbor to get 6:37 her to come around to look after my other kids while I haul this one off to A and E. 6:41 And I put in the words, Child rash, right. 6:45 Because, that's all I've got. 6:48 I know that I've got no back up and this is a thing that I haven't seen before. 6:50 So, I put in child rash, yeah? 6:55 This is what I get. 6:58 You see that top one, you can't probably see very well, but 6:59 it says his childhood rashes are very common, and 7:01 often nothing to worry about, most rashes are harmless and go away on their own. 7:04 Brilliant, all the chemicals are now going [SOUND]. 7:10 Adrenaline is now going out of my body. 7:13 I'm calming down, I'm gonna stop banging on my neighbor's door, going he's dying, 7:15 help me. 7:19 That's all stopped stops. 7:20 Kind of just backed away, slightly, shut the door really quietly. 7:22 Hope that she thinks it's kids mucking about. 7:26 So, whilst I am exaggerating ever so slightly, when you have that 7:30 kind of emotional response to something your vocabulary does do that. 7:34 You know that you have a common vocabulary, 15,000 words? 7:38 You get a primary set that's 5,000 words. 7:42 You have a secondary set that's 10,000 words, you use those 80% of the time. 7:44 It's incredible. 7:47 You have a lot wider terms. 7:48 You have up to 30, 50,000 terms. 7:50 You don't use a very small set. 7:52 When you have that kind of emotion you go [SOUND]. 7:54 So, I want you to keep that in mind, when I go through to the next example for you. 8:00 Does anybody remember Directgov? 8:04 From this country, anyone? 8:07 Couple, big orange affair. 8:09 I worked on it. 8:12 So, I feel fully versed to tell you this little story. 8:13 I went to a department who was running something for new parents. 8:16 Now apparently, new parents get quite obsessed. 8:22 And I'm going to be a little bit crass here, so just bear with me. 8:25 Green poo. 8:29 All right, apparently, it's quite to drain on some government sources. 8:30 Because, it happens and everybody freaks out when it happens, cuz of new parents. 8:36 Are there any new parents in? 8:40 No? 8:43 Yay! Congratulations. 8:43 You will get this, it will go up your arm, it will be discussing it. 8:45 So, I said to him, I wrote this piece, it's a lovely piece. 8:48 So, we're gonna do this. 8:54 And he said, I like most of it. 8:55 Little bit of a problem with that word there. 9:00 Which one? 9:01 Poo. 9:04 We can't put that word on a government website. 9:05 We're government, we're authoritative. 9:09 We're brilliant. 9:13 We're Winston Churchill. 9:15 We're not Putin. 9:17 And I said no, no, no. 9:18 [LAUGH] We need to put that word on, because everyone's using that word. 9:20 No, it has to be stools. 9:24 And I said to them, what do you think will happen 9:27 when you put green stools on a page and poo no where else? 9:30 And you type green stools into Google. 9:34 What do you think is gonna happen? 9:37 >> [LAUGH] >> Yeah. 9:38 So, taking the example [LAUGH] that I gave you before, 9:41 where I'm smacking down my neighbors house. 9:45 Is that going to help me in any way? 9:48 I'm just gonna be sitting there thinking, 9:50 what does furniture coming out his butt soon, what's this? 9:52 So, humans are emotional creatures, they are also very busy. 9:55 That affects the content strategy, so 10:01 that bit about the rash with those first few sentences in the search results, 10:03 telling me I was completely overreacting is brilliant. 10:09 That's content strategy right there. 10:12 Not that a lot of users would ever see, one second. 10:14 We're gonna play a game. 10:22 On the next slide I'm going to show you a page that you would have 10:24 got from Google on direct gov, if you had typed in renew adult passport. 10:29 We know from user research that this task is in two bits. 10:35 One, people would just look normally on their phone to get the price of it and 10:40 then they will apply later on on the different device, we know this. 10:44 So I'm gonna time you, I'm judging you. 10:47 Put up your hands when you can see how much it costs to renew 10:51 an adult passport in the UK. 10:56 Ready? 10:58 Can you see it? 11:14 Can you see it? 11:16 It is not on that page is it? 11:18 So anyway, it's there, it's under there. 11:21 Centre of information is quite strong really. 11:23 It didn't bomb out, but that's where you would have ended up. 11:25 It's not on the next page it's kind of in the third paragraph down. 11:28 Gonna to play the game again, still gonna to time you. 11:30 Find the price of an adult passport in the UK, can you see it? 11:33 Yeah GDS has a strap file that's simpler, clearer, faster. 11:39 Do you think that is? [LAUGH] I'm going to play it one 11:43 more time. 11:46 Ready, what's the price? 11:47 There you go, it's right there. 11:52 People like GDS don't need traffic. 11:54 You're government, you have to deal with us actually. 11:56 You got to come to us. 11:59 So we don't need the kind of ROI, 12:00 we don't need those kind of numbers we only needed those kind of numbers. 12:02 What we need is to get content to citizens of the UK. 12:05 So it's a different ballgame, so the content strategy is different. 12:10 So you'll see, remember that drawing in the beginning? 12:13 For a commercial company that core strategy might be to sell loads of 12:16 whatever for the British government, it's not the same thing. 12:21 Okay, point number 3, humans are very mistrustful. 12:26 Well, some humans are very, most humans are very distrustful. 12:29 80%of the world, 80% of the of left to right reading 12:33 Western world consumes information in exactly the same way. 12:38 It's pathological, there's nothing you can do about it. 12:43 Your eyes do this funny thing fixations, and your brain does this great thing, 12:46 wallop, you decode, you work it out and you understand. 12:50 You can train yourself to read in a different way. 12:54 And there's some apps at the moment that are doing that, 12:57 to do speed reading and things. 12:59 But you have to physically train yourself, and you have to practice that for 13:01 it to become a habit. 13:06 And I can't really see why you'd bother, but still. 13:07 I can control what you think and 13:11 what you read by using grammar, spelling errors, 13:14 various spellings, tone, punctuation. 13:19 I can control your reading much better than you can. 13:24 You have to train yourself, I just need to know the rules, but 13:28 I can only do that, if you trust me. 13:32 I can't do that if you come to a site and you look at it and you go, 13:38 I don't know what this is, cuz no matter what I say or how beautifully I say it, 13:41 you're not gonna to trust me. 13:46 Hands up, who trusts the British government? 13:50 Okay, one, maybe. 13:55 Probably not from this country. 13:57 I'm only joking. 13:59 Yeah, okay, fair enough. 14:00 Another example for you. 14:05 Let's take you back a few years and let's pretend that you're sitting in a kitchen. 14:07 And you're thinking this is when Afghanistan was kicking off, 14:10 what is the UK's government position on this? 14:14 I want the official policy please, 14:16 you were going to Google your government Afghanistan policy. 14:20 And first of all you go to this site, right, foreign and commonwealth site. 14:25 Then you would go to this site, which is the other foreign and commonwealth site, 14:30 because they need two on the same thing. 14:34 Then you'd go to the Ministry of Defense because we're bombing people, 14:37 that would be necessary. 14:40 Then the Department for International Development because once you 14:42 bomb people you have to build their countries back up. 14:45 Number ten. 14:48 They have an opinion, and then the stabilization unit. 14:50 I worked in Whitehall for ten years, 14:53 no idea who these people are, never fell over them. 14:55 However, they are part of the forign and commonwealth office cuz they need 14:58 three entirely separate websites on the same bit of information. 15:02 Home office, cuz we all need to know where the home secretary goes and 15:07 money from the Cabinet Office. 15:11 We also have a position from the Deputy Prime Minister. 15:13 So you can read nine different websites, and 15:17 by time you get the to the end of it, you probably still don't know what 15:19 the government's position on the Afghanistan policy is. 15:25 If you have nine different architectures, nine different vocabularies, 15:28 nine different styles, 15:32 nine different times, how do you know that you've got to the end of it? 15:32 How do you trust it? 15:37 Would you trust it? 15:38 Did you trust it at the time? 15:40 You can't. 15:43 Users will often look for the edges of a bit of content, you know this. 15:45 They'll look for the edges to say, have I got it all. 15:48 If not, I'm not getting this, I'm going back to something else. 15:51 So if you take that example, right, 15:54 each of those government departments had all of this, they had a work flow. 15:57 They each had their own teams, I mean each of those web sites had their own teams. 16:03 They each had governance, 27 point approval process. 16:07 They each had structure, so they their own sites, they have Twitter streams, 16:11 they have all these things. 16:14 And they have substance. 16:15 But it didn't really work for 16:18 the fundamental reason that users, humans just couldn't care less 16:20 which bit of government does what some specialists do, and some practitioners do. 16:25 80% of the UK could simply couldn't care less. 16:30 They see government as one thing, one entity. 16:34 So if you went to an organization, 16:38 we gave you nine different websites on the same thing, would you trust it as much? 16:39 Yes, no, no, no, neither would I. 16:45 So when gov UK came along, 16:50 we had this, I've got a slide at the end that's got all the URLs in, by the way. 16:54 So, this is up, and Open GDS published it. 16:58 These Design Principles are the content principles as well. 17:03 The Design Principles are not, 17:07 a lot of people just think it's just about design patterns, it's not. 17:08 It's about everything. 17:12 So I'm just gonna tell you a couple of them, and 17:13 then you can get the URL at the end and have a look. 17:15 But start with users, user needs, not government needs. 17:17 We don't care what government really needs to say to you, 17:21 we need to know what the user needs to take from that. 17:23 Design with data, it's lovely if you've got opinions. 17:28 You've got all sorts of people sitting around having 20 different opinions. 17:31 Brilliant, lovely, we've all got one, it makes them useless. 17:34 We might as well get some data and do it properly. 17:37 Do the hard work to make it simple. 17:40 We need to hide the complexity from the users. 17:43 They don't need to know the internationations of government. 17:46 They just need to know the one thing that they're looking for. 17:49 These design principles are supported by the style guide, an editorial style guide. 17:51 How many of you seen one of those? 17:57 Yay more, yay, yeah, good. 17:59 That normally involves your tone and your insight and all that sort of thing so 18:02 it's unsurprisingly you've seen one of those more than the content. 18:07 Covers everything from tone, style, use of capital letters, things like that. 18:12 And for us, this, it's the plain English list. 18:16 It was also called the banned words list. 18:19 We banned loads of words government now can't use those on gov UK, 18:22 shouldn't be using them. 18:26 Because they're empty and they don't mean anything. 18:27 Or they're being used in the wrong way, taking one example, 18:30 slimming down, I love that. 18:34 We're slimming down the process, it just, files don't get up, 18:37 walk over going I'm doing the thing this week, they don't do it. 18:41 You're doing something with it and you're gonna lessen it and 18:44 you're gonna shorten the time or something, it made it all active. 18:46 When you do this amount of cutting and this amount of change to a bigger 18:50 organization, you end up with some press, you end up. 18:54 In this case we were in the radio and on the TV and whatever, and 19:01 then it starts to gain traction. 19:04 Because people, the humans that are reading it, 19:06 suddenly find it more interesting. 19:11 In the end, we ended up with this, it's one page on Afghanistan, the policy pages. 19:13 Janet Hughes ran this, she now does gov UK verify. 19:21 You can see all the departments, those four on the top. 19:25 It's all written in plain English, it's all in clear. 19:28 These tabs anything that government does 19:31 about anything to do with Afghanistan is on that page. 19:34 So, at gov UK, does anybody remember Business Link? 19:40 No, hey, did you love it? 19:46 Did you? 19:48 Hated it, awful site. 19:50 70,000 pages on Business Link, 19:52 Business Link was a site from government to small businesses. 19:54 70,000 English pages, 19:57 that's not even including- Well she will translations, etc, etc. 19:59 And Directgov that orange monstrosity that I did work on. 20:03 Had over five thousand when we launched of GovUK, 20:08 we had just over three thousand pages covering both. 20:10 And no uses came to scream at us. 20:15 The office did, the users didn't notice any difference. 20:17 So brilliant. 20:23 Right? 20:24 Governments got it sorted. 20:25 Hurrah! 20:26 Maybe not. 20:29 Let's take this example, Universal Credit, this is on main stream. 20:29 So, this is on, if you just do Gov.uk, this is here. 20:32 Does everybody know what Universal Credit is? 20:35 It's a benefit. 20:38 It takes in, I don't know what it is 12, 25, whatever other benefits and 20:40 gives it to one. 20:44 And then, you give it to a client in one go at the end of the month. 20:44 Now for some clients, brilliant, cuz they just want government out of the why. 20:48 I don't need you to pay 13 different benefits to me, 20:52 I just need the one thing moved. 20:54 I can sort it out. 20:56 For other clients, it's terrifying. 20:58 They've never budgeted in that way. 20:59 So, it's quite, a massive shift from where we are. 21:03 GOVUK Content Design team did that, you can clearly see what the edges are. 21:06 Everything is in plain English, everything is how a human behaves. 21:11 Design, content, dev, the lot, is to how a human behaves. 21:15 So, say, you've got this, right? 21:21 But you're still a bit curious. 21:22 And you go off onto the department. 21:24 It's Department for Work and Pensions. 21:26 And you go onto this ,and you type in universal credit and you get this page. 21:28 Lovely. PIP, Ian Duncan Smith, PIP, and 21:33 Hancock of putting universal credit. 21:37 And here, we have universal credit. 21:42 Frequently Asked Questions. 21:43 I have a rant about this. 21:45 I'm going to keep quiet. 21:46 Because, I just hate them. 21:47 It will take me an hour to tell you why. 21:49 So, we're going to forget that, and say you're on this page and 21:51 you're like, that's not anything for me, I don't know what PIP is, for a start so 21:55 I'm going to go somewhere else. 21:58 I'll go and search. 22:00 See search and you end up with this and this is better, this is better. 22:02 Now, DWP has a massive audience, right? 22:06 And it's only got one channel to go out on, GOVUK. 22:09 So, it's got to talk to the people who are applying for it and 22:13 the people who are running it. 22:16 They've gotta get to the specialists, the practitioners, the lawyers, and 22:18 the clients. 22:21 So, they do have quite a wide audience. 22:22 So, it's quite a bit on GOV.UK. 22:24 Let's just say, you have a little look around and 22:26 you pick this one, cuz it's interesting, right? 22:29 And it effects you as a human. 22:31 You are renting a house, so you go to this, makes sense right? 22:33 No, this is for landlords. 22:39 It's not written to you. 22:41 GovUK, the mainstream side, which the department is aware of. 22:42 Has already written about that. 22:46 But they're going to write that way. 22:48 But, fair enough, there are some users who would like to see what the other side is 22:50 kind of being told so it might be interesting to them. 22:54 So, we're going to go to another one, universal credit and your family. 22:57 Most of this is duplicated. 23:03 Most of this is duplicated on the mainstream side on the gov.uk side. 23:04 This is where we're kind of going backwards. 23:08 And I've left GDS, so I feel fully okay to tell you this. 23:10 We're swamping it again. 23:15 Because, you will never know where the edges are. 23:16 And that trust will start to drop. 23:19 It's confusing, and if you're under an emotional state, 23:22 like the rash story that I was telling you before. 23:26 Would you want to go to five different places. 23:30 Would you want to look at several times? 23:33 Would you want to download PDFs and that sort of thing? 23:35 Or would you want it presented in quite an easy way? 23:38 Get the information and run off. 23:40 I would say, the latter. 23:43 It's kind of confusing, and it's no wonder people need to go for 23:45 advice to get this sort of thing sorted out. 23:50 So, hold that in your mind for a moment. 23:53 Number four, and the last one on this is, Humans Need Help sometimes. 23:55 My work at the moment where I'm just finishing is Citizens Advice. 23:59 Does anybody know what that is? 24:03 No? 24:06 National, national treasures citizen's advice. 24:07 It's the U.K.'s largest advice giving charity. 24:09 You can walk into a citizen's advice center and 24:14 say, I've got a dodgy mobile phone contract. 24:16 I've got bailiffs at my door, or I'm a victim of domestic violence, and 24:18 they will help you. 24:23 You can go in with practically anything and they'll help you. 24:24 There's a wonderful center in Sheffield, which is entirely, for 24:27 British sign language users. 24:32 They can walk in there, and 24:33 they can entirely converse on any problem that they have. 24:34 20,000 volunteers up and down the country, they're brilliant. 24:39 So, we've seen that government can be confusing. 24:43 So, we needed to adapt our content strategy, our design strategy around that. 24:46 But when I walked in I thought this is fine, right? 24:53 Gov.UK, his audience was everybody. 24:55 And you need to sort out a problem. 24:57 Brilliant, yeah? 24:59 Citizens Advice, same thing, awesome. 25:00 I'll just take what I did over there, and pop it over here. 25:03 And I'll look fabulous. 25:06 No. Life just doesn't work like that, does it? 25:08 Cutting content is really easy, too really easy. 25:11 You get data, you get the analytic, you get the vocabulary that people are using, 25:14 you put it onto your pages, you make it short, 25:19 you make it to sync to new right to how the human brain works. 25:21 Easy, advice entirely different thing. 25:26 You've got to get in the way of the user's journey. 25:28 You've got to stop them. 25:33 You've got to help them think. 25:34 Because, when for most people they don't know what the problem is. 25:35 One of the advisers very early on said to me, people come 25:39 with one problem, but they have between 22 and 25 problems behind them. 25:45 So, they might come and say, there's bailiffs at my door. 25:51 I don't know what my rights are. 25:55 But what actually happened is two years ago they were unfairly dismissed. 25:57 And none of that hell, in the past two years should have happened. 26:01 So, the advisers who had just incredible pick all that human stuff apart. 26:05 To get to the end point. 26:10 This is one of the problems however. 26:13 We don't get 40% of our audience. 26:15 I was in a city up north a bit and they open the doors at nine. 26:18 By ten o'clock all the appointments are gone. 26:25 And the appointments go until six o'clock. 26:28 They take in their last one at six o'clock that evening. 26:30 There's just too many people with too many problems. 26:34 Some of that is just assisted digital. 26:38 Because, they can't get online or they don't want, which is fair enough. 26:40 Some of them is because all the information is very turgid. 26:43 Some of it is that it's just not understandable. 26:48 So, the moment as I said, 26:52 I'm leading a digital project that's kind of sorting that out. 26:55 Now, we give tactical advice on how to get around things. 26:58 So, we don't need to do what GovUK is doing. 27:04 A content strategy is as much about what not to do. 27:06 As to what to do. 27:10 Because government UK sucks with the Google juice, yeah, 27:12 if you like universal credit they're number one. 27:14 Any kind of benefit they're number one, any government thing they're number one. 27:17 Brilliant. 27:20 So, we don't need to, what we need to do is those edges. 27:21 That kind of stuff around it [COUGH]. 27:24 This works really well, this is that human thing, that a designer 27:28 came up with a solution for us, because he understood what the content strategy was. 27:34 So, these are example boxes. 27:39 Now, on GOV.UK, I was like, no, we're not having any of those. 27:40 Strip it right back, right back to the bare bones. 27:45 On Citizens Advice, we have to have these. 27:47 People love these. 27:50 They love that human element to it. 27:52 They can understand it, and it gains their understanding, so 27:55 they can read through it and then they can apply it to their situation. 27:57 Don't need that so much on GovUK. 28:01 For some things, but generally not on this. 28:03 We need them a lot. 28:06 And we know that from research. 28:06 So, that's the main part of all strategy, actually, 28:11 if somebody else is doing it better we don't need to do it at all. 28:14 We do things like this, and this is where the experience goes beyond digital. 28:18 So, in the Universal Credit journey you have to go for this interview, 28:25 and some people get very anxious about it, particularly people who haven't had jobs 28:31 or they've been dismissed from a job and they don't have very much confidence. 28:35 Maybe they've been out of work for a long period of time. 28:39 And they'll sit in the interview and they'll sit in the interview and 28:41 they'll say what can you do. 28:43 And they'll go nothing. 28:43 I can't do anything. 28:46 I've got no skills. 28:47 And it's not true. 28:48 It's just not true. 28:49 Jobs plus they're under a lot of pressure so they don't push them so much. 28:51 Some do, not everybody. 28:54 So, we came up with things like this, you'll go to a page and 28:58 its information, but nobody wants to take a page, do they? 29:00 To an interview and stuff like that, when they're already hyper-anxious. 29:04 So, we have an extra bit where you can print it out. 29:08 We've taken the core points of the content, and spread it out and put these 29:10 lines on it, so that they can write on and just take it and go there you go. 29:15 [SOUND] This is what I think, cuz I've already had a think about it. 29:18 So, the digital strategy, the content strategy is to go beyond the digital. 29:21 Is take it one step further so that it's useful. 29:28 And that's because we believe, 29:32 I definitely think users shouldn't read anything. 29:34 And I am taking the terminology back to users, because human should read. 29:37 Right? You're talking to somebody who had to my 29:41 have a custom built 29:43 bookcase because there was none bigger in the world that would take all my books. 29:45 So, humans should read. 29:49 I'm not saying that, but users shouldn't read anything, they should understand. 29:50 For me, in the work that I do, reading is really quite useless. 29:54 I don't care if you read it. 30:00 I need you to understand it. 30:01 If you don't understand it, you can't act on it. 30:03 And I need you to do some sort of action attached to it. 30:06 You can't act on something until you find it and it's accessible. 30:11 And I'm not just talking about screen readers there. 30:14 I'm talking about language that includes you, and a design that doesn't scare you. 30:17 And development that doesn't take forever, 30:23 or move in a way that you don't, you know you can't get with. 30:25 You have to trust it and have the confidence in it, so 30:30 that's where the edges come and that's where design comes in. 30:32 And that you stick to the point. 30:35 That takes all the disciplines, not just content. 30:37 But it should all be in your content strategy. 30:41 I'm just gonna talk to you quickly about why number three is very important, 30:44 stick to the point. 30:48 This is another example from GOVUK, if you get pregnant and you wanna 30:51 go onto maternity leave and all that sort of thing, it's actually quite a nightmare. 30:58 Direct Gov had like seven articles, seven 1,000 word articles on this. 31:02 They have ridiculous sentences like, you need to do something 31:08 three weeks before the fifteenth week before your baby is due. 31:10 Ridiculous. 31:14 So now we have this, well they have this I should say, and 31:16 it's just a cute calculator. 31:19 I don't need them to read any of those words, I need to understand they need to 31:21 understand what they're doing to get the information that they need at the end. 31:26 Just gonna skip passed that cuz it's taking a while. 31:31 [SOUND] This one is also an example. 31:34 Come on. 31:38 It's a brilliant example, isn't it? 31:40 That took us weeks, that did. 31:43 Go, go, whee! 31:45 This came from a designer. 31:52 This is a form. 31:54 DWP have done a brilliant thing, and they've put their ESA, 31:55 which is employment and support allowance, 31:59 they've put their form in plain English which is brilliant, it's brilliant. 32:01 But what happens is people go, oh this is brilliant. 32:04 Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, send it off, DWP goes, no, can't have it. 32:06 Thirteen weeks without any money and people are going to food banks. 32:11 So they've done a great job. 32:14 Might have taken it a little bit to far. 32:17 Designer came up with this because he understood the content strategy. 32:19 He understood what we were getting to. 32:23 He understood that core strategy, that aspiration and 32:25 how we were gonna get there. 32:28 In advice centers, when they are filling out the forms with the client, they will 32:30 say, can you walk 50 meters, that's from here to the phone shop over the road. 32:34 And we can't do that, well we probably could do it digitally, 32:40 but it would be a bit difficult with Googling things. 32:44 So he just put that in? 32:47 And boom, understanding just went through the roof. 32:49 No words, don't need words, not for everything. 32:52 But it's still the content strategy. 32:54 My last example, this is a quote from the beginning of the beta at GDS. 32:59 I've just written this fabulous piece of cont. 33:07 Yeah, it was gorgeous, it was shiny, it was plain English. 33:10 All the headings were perfect, it was lovely. 33:13 And I put it in front of this woman, 33:16 and she was just one of those perfect participants. 33:19 You know the ones that just gives you a running stream, 33:21 and they have an opinion on everything? 33:24 She was brilliant. 33:26 And she read my content, and she was getting quieter and quieter. 33:27 Which is making me worry a little bit. 33:30 And she kinda leant forward and she squinted at the screening sneering. 33:32 And she sat back and she went is that from government? 33:37 And the researcher said yes. 33:40 She said I understand that, I don't trust it, bang, she was back out to Google. 33:42 She didn't get it at all. 33:46 She was like yeah, no it's not, it's a fake site. 33:47 It's like a spam site. 33:52 I don't get it, I need the proper government one. 33:54 I was mortified, oh my God, I've gotta go back now and 33:57 redo all that turgid, nasty, legal language. 34:03 Otherwise nobody's going to trust me. 34:06 Nobody's going to trust the whole site. 34:08 Luckily, design came bounding in the bent area. 34:11 But a big black line on the Crown stamped in the side. 34:15 Did the same thing. 34:18 So the content didn't need to do anything to make it more trustful, but 34:20 the design needed to. 34:24 You see what I mean? 34:25 They are all interlinked. 34:26 So these are ways that content impacts your design, 34:30 and how you as designers, developers, content people obviously 34:38 all have your inner content strategist, cuz you probably do this, right? 34:43 Oh somebody nod, you all do this right? 34:48 You would take this into account, yes? 34:50 >> Yes. 34:52 >> Yay, okay. 34:53 Somebody's here, I know you've got post lunch slump. 34:54 Work with me. 34:57 I'm going to give you three reasons to work with content people. 34:59 Because your little inner content strategist is dying to get out, 35:02 you just need to help them. 35:05 Number one, they do do bonkers things, but for good reasons. 35:10 So just bear with me here. 35:16 Content people know line length affects memory. 35:18 By the time you're nine years old, you can drop thirty percent on a page, any device, 35:22 and so accurately predict the context of that piece. 35:26 They know that subheads can tell a story, and 35:33 can place people so that they can put them back and then forwards. 35:37 Did you know that you take fewer eye muscles to look down than you do across? 35:40 There's a theory on that's why everybody looks down first. 35:44 I've no idea how they're gonna validate that theory. 35:47 However, I'll share the theory with you. 35:49 They know these things. 35:52 So they will have an opinion on how the page looks. 35:53 And you designers clearly have an opinion on how the content looks, right? 35:57 Because it's the same thing. 36:02 It's the same core need. 36:03 What we're trying to do is get to the same aim, 36:05 we're just coming out it from different sides. 36:07 Number two, they can annihilate your service. 36:10 I'll tell you another little story. 36:14 I was at GDS and one of the product trainers rang me said, hi Sara. 36:16 I need one of your lot to come over I'm proof my service going live next week. 36:22 I was like, [LAUGH]. 36:27 Proof. 36:28 You want them to proofread it? 36:29 The service that we've never heard of and we've not seen before? 36:31 You want them to look for typos and grammar errors? 36:35 Do you? All right. 36:39 [LAUGH] Okay. 36:40 This is an award-winning team, all right? 36:41 These are people who have been sweating blood and 36:43 tears, getting 75,000 pages down to 3,000. 36:45 And you think we're just going to look for typos. 36:49 Okay? 36:52 Here we go. 36:53 So I popped one of my guys over and English is his second language actually. 36:54 And he's quite clipped in his verbal language. 36:58 He's an incredible editor. 37:01 But he's quite clipped with his verbal language. 37:04 And he went back over. 37:07 And he came back a couple of hours later and I was like, a bit quick, 37:09 you all right. 37:13 What happened? 37:14 He said, well I tweaked it. 37:15 Tweak, for those of you who don't know, is a major alarm bell. 37:19 Somebody says they tweak it, you run. 37:24 So I went, okay. 37:27 And I ran off, got my phone, rang the product owner, hello. 37:29 How did it go? 37:33 And I had the phone here, and a second I had to phone here. 37:34 He was ranting at me, screaming down the phone. 37:37 He can't do that! 37:40 He's coming here! 37:41 He's deleted 30% of our pages! 37:42 He's got rid of the calculator! 37:45 He's got rid of the widgets! 37:46 He can't do it! 37:47 [SOUND]. 37:48 I waited, like that, mm-hm. 37:49 And then I said yes, but was he right? 37:53 Silence. Yes, he was right. 37:57 Nothing we can do about services going live next week, la la la. 38:00 Then there were further iterations and the service got cut and cut and cut. 38:03 And it went from this to this. 38:08 It went from 30 minutes to get through to about seven or eight. 38:10 The thing with content people is, 38:15 the thing in this story, the guy had been writing the content for weeks. 38:16 He knew it inside and out. 38:21 The service had to use a researcher, had business analysts, 38:23 had a developer, several developers. 38:26 Had a designer, had the lot, brilliant. 38:29 And of course they understood the content cuz they read it once. 38:32 And they had a business analyst. 38:35 And they had people from that government department who knew that thing, 38:36 which I'm trying to anonymize it. 38:42 That thing backwards. 38:44 Great, what you know is too much. 38:46 You have too much in here that you think is important, and it's not. 38:49 The thing with my guy, he's very clipped and tweaked it slightly, 38:53 is that he could just annihilate the whole thing cuz he understood it. 38:58 Third, and final thing, she says, I know I'm running out of time. 39:03 Content isn't a box thing. 39:07 It sounds like content should just be written down, 39:08 a couple of thousand words, away you go. 39:10 It's a thing on those pages. 39:12 It's not that example that I gave you from citizens advice. 39:13 Takes it beyond digital, and there are stacks of examples of those, 39:17 none of which I've got time to go through. 39:20 And last but not least, working together can stop people having to use food banks. 39:22 I don't work in the gaming industry, or selling books and coffee tables and 39:27 all those sorts of things. 39:31 For me, it's a very real thing, and the designers and the developers and 39:33 the content people don't understand the content strategy, 39:37 of what is the core aspiration, how are we gonna get there, 39:40 what are we gonna say, how and when are we gonna say it? 39:44 I'm not exaggerating, like I was massively before, when I can say, 39:48 people will understand, and they will stay out of food banks. 39:54 So that's all I have for you. 39:59 That's the URLs of the things that I've been talking about today. 40:01 And thank you very much. 40:04 >> [APPLAUSE] 40:07
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