What do people who work in Content do daily? You might think we spend all our time writing. But do we – and should we – do anything else?
Yes, we write of course, and we want to provide our users with informational and relevant text. But there are more elements involved in producing content – mainly, we want our text to be valuable to our users, and this goes beyond the information presented in the text itself.
For content to be valuable, it must be helpful. We achieve this by also making the text look good. As content executives at Blexr, we don’t write in a vacuum. We think about the delivery of the text and its placement, and how all the components on the page ultimately come together as a whole.
How does this benefit the user? Well, we want our users to have a smooth journey when they’re visiting our pages and products. The main action they do here is read and digest text, so we need to make it as simple and as fun for them to do so. This also builds user trust.
Large chunks of text which are heavy on the eyes are a no-no. Wild animations which are more fitting to a PowerPoint slideshow and do nothing for the user beyond that they’re cool? You guessed it, they’re mostly distracting and it’s more likely that the reader will bounce off your page.
So, how do we define great content? Our content is successful not only when it resolves user queries, but when it’s easy for the reader to scan for answers as quickly as possible.
Use space wisely
On our quest to provide readers with the best user journey possible, we also have to work with space. In our digital age, writing is further complicated by the vast range of devices available, which means content and its layout must be optimised to fit different screen sizes.
This is why we spend time researching the structure and architecture of a page and think of how to deal with spatial restrictions. What works on desktop doesn’t necessarily translate well on mobile, and vice versa.
Ultimately, we need to do everything in our power to make sure our users are comfortable reading, wherever they’re doing it from.
Let’s consider this in practice, on a small scale. You’ve written a catchy and informative header and you’re very proud of your one-liner on Word, up until you realise that you’ve gone over the suggested character count.
While at first glance everything fits in one line on your document, on the page your heading will break into two and push important elements further down.
The problem? The delivery won’t be as snappy and as powerful as you want it to be and you might lose the reader’s attention.
All this is also further complicated by the market you’re writing for. What you can put across in five words in English can often go up to ten or fifteen in wordier languages such as French or Japanese. And as most of us in Content know, it’s far more challenging to write concisely than making it to a 4,000-word finish line.
‘More than writing’
While writers and designers fulfil different functions along the product journey, their goal is the same: to communicate with the reader as effectively as possible.
This is why they shouldn’t be working separately.
The point isn’t to create brilliant designs with dummy text and then insert the copy at the end. Content should serve as a springboard into the creative experience, guided by UX along the way to ensure the text flows effortlessly and to provide the best user experience together.
As content writers, we don’t get clever and produce paragraphs of flowery language just for the sake of it. Our goal is for website visitors to access our pages in a way that makes sense to them and to engage with relevant content. Users want logic, efficiency, clarity. We will edit ruthlessly to meet their needs.
Working in Content is more than writing. We conduct research into how we can best help the reader. We inform ourselves on what users would like to see more of in our pages. We perform competitor analysis because we know there’s a lot we can learn from. We keep UX principles in mind when drafting text, to make sure we’re guiding users towards the answers to their questions.
So no, we don’t just write. There’s thought and purpose behind every word and its placement, and the user is at the centre of it all.