1. Usable Language
How content shapes the
2. What in God’s name are
we talking about?
1 How content is essential
to user experience design
2 How to improve your site
using content alone
3. What is user
4. says . . .
“User experience is a
person's perceptions and
responses that result from
the use or anticipated use
of a product, system or
5. So what is content
6. says . . .
“Content strategy is the
practice of planning for
content creation, delivery,
and governance, and is a
repeatable system that
deﬁnes the entire editorial
process for a website.”
7. Wikipedia is missing
something (shocking, I
8. Let’s get speciﬁc, shall
9. The 4 major UX elements
10. Information Architecture
11. Information architecture
Sounds important, right?
The term was actually invented by an architect-
turned-graphic designer, Richard Saul Wurman
12. Information architecture
“Information architecture is
really about what's not obvious.
Users don't notice the
information architecture of a site
unless it isn't working.”
- Rosenfeld and Morville, Information Architecture
for the World Wide Web
13. “Instruction for organized space”
Gathering, organizing and
presenting information to
suit your user’s needs is
analogous to designing a
building that will serve the
needs of its occupants.
From INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES AND THE
R. E. Wyllys, University of Texas at Austin
14. Wurman’s Tokyo subway map
15. Who cares about the
geography of the system?
All you need to know is the
sequence of the stations.
16. Great Wurman IA quotes
of the word information
contains the word inform, so
I call things information only
if they inform me, not if they
are just collections of
throw 140,000 words on
the ﬂoor and connect those
words with a sentence or two, we
wouldn't call that a dictionary...
The ability to ﬁnd something
goes hand-in-hand with how
well it's organized.”
17. So what’s the point?
Make the complex clear
18. There are lots of ways to
•L - by location
•A - by alphabet
•T - by time (chronology)
•C - by category
•H - by hierarchy
19. The web organises by the last 2
Category - putting relevant information together
Hierarchy - deciding what is least and most
20. Even if it’s organised perfectly,
if it isn’t labelled right, you’ve
21. Labels and information
architecture - some good and
22. 4 major categories
23. 18 major categories
over 30 sub-
25. 2 tiered navigation
27. Everything is navigation
28. Expanded navigation
29. Pop quiz:
what do the following
30. information architecture . . .
How well you organise your
information depends on how well
you know your information (i.e.
If it’s not labelled well, it doesn’t
matter how you organised it, no
one will ﬁnd it.
32. In the olden days,
wireframes came ﬁrst
33. What’s a wireframe?
34. Wireframes can be simple
or complex depending on
how well you know your
35. The best wireframes
anticipate the amount and
type of content they’ll need
36. What comes after wireframes?
A polished, ﬁnished site - that’s
hard to change
That means the design decisions
you make in your wireframes will
directly affect the volume and
type of content you’ll be able to add
in the future
37. That means, content ﬁrst,
wireframes and design
38. How design affects content:
39. What to do with boxes
They work best for image-heavy
pages with minimal text
They need to be ﬂuid
The content should dictate the
length and arrangement of the
boxes (and that’s hard to do)
40. Better boxes
41. How content affects design:
42. Expanding menu guidelines:
Pack a punch: your content has to
ﬁt in a small area, so it needs to be
Use white space around your
Don’t use expanding menus as
your main navigation
43. How content affects design:
help text and teasers
44. Tips for teasers and help text
Keep it short (sound familiar?) - people
won’t read a long teaser.
Make it meaningful: all the reader needs
to know is
•What they should do (help text)
•What they’ll see on the next page
You can’t design in a vacuum, the
content makes the design real
and functional (and grow-able)
47. What is analytics?
Data. Lots and lots of data
48. What does content have to do
Often people will ﬁnd your site through
a search engine.
Analytics will tell you which words
they used to ﬁnd you (keywords)
50. You can’t cheat with keywords
Analytics tells you more . . .
Meaningless, jargon-y keywords won’t
do your site any good -- because people
won’t use your site once they’ve found
51. What does SEO mean?
Effective SEO means relevant content
“Optimise for the searcher, not
the search engine. Focus on
your customers, not the
- Gerry McGovern (Jan 20,
52. Trafﬁc sources
Analytics shows you the context for your
visitors: i.e. where they came from.
• Search engines
• Referring sites
• Direct trafﬁc
All of these details help you get a
clearer picture of the humans
using your site
53. Funnels: this is a sales funnel for an
event. You can buy tickets online:
248 people start this funnel
Only 20 people check out
That sucks. We see that most people dropped out
between step 1 and step 2, so there is obviously a
problem with the ﬁrst page:
54. How would we ﬁx this?
55. When you pick a day, a morning and afternoon
session is automatically ticked, which may be
the reason people left the page.
To ﬁx it, add some help text
that says something like,
“When you select a day, you
pay for a morning and
afternoon session. If you’d
like to mix and match, give us
a call on 555-5555.”
56. Internal site search
Look at what people are searching for on
If there’s a pattern, move that content to
where you users expect it to be.
57. Internal site search report
58. Analysing content
Where are your users going?
What are your users doing?
How did your users get there?
59. Top content
Top content shows you your most popular
It also tells you:
• The bounce rate
• The percentage exit
60. Top content by title
Top content by title shows you your most popular
The bounce rates are deﬁnitive proof that your page
titles and links that got them there work (or don’t).
61. Top content by section
“Content drilldown” shows you your most popular
You can use this information to tweak your information
62. Map overlay
Shows you which countries your users are coming from.
63. Navigation summary
Shows you how your users move through your site.
64. Pop quiz
The intro text on one of your pages looks like this:
Your analytics tells you
that you have a
coming from non-
Would you change your
blurb text? How?
65. Pop quiz
Your analytics tells you that one of your most viewed
pages is a recipe for grilled chicken.
You know that most
people get to this page
from external search
engines, and that most
people leave the page
once they get there.
How would you ﬁx it?
Analytics shows you how people
respond to your content -- and
how they don’t. It should be a tool
that helps you constantly update
68. User testing transport websites
Last year we ran an “off the street” usability test
for World Usability Day
The theme of the day was transportation, so we
tested a series of airline, rail and public transport
69. Looking for the right word
These videos show people struggling to ﬁnd a
70. This video shows a guy struggling to ﬁnd
the word ‘destinations.’ It takes him a long
71. What about design?
The next test shows how too much content on a page -
the result of poor layout and content planning - can
discourage a user from reading
72. This video shows a woman saying she only
wants ‘relevant content.’ We love her.
I want less
information and I
want it to be
73. These are “quick and dirty” user
All you need for your own user test:
•Impartial users (not coworkers)
•User testing software (we use Silverback)
74. But there are lots of others
(we use this too)
75. Most basic user testing is
linguistic, or interview-based
It’s an ‘ask and listen’ solution to problems in your
But sometimes the interviewer has to be almost
invisible - to get the answers the user isn’t aware of
76. What about sample size?
We tested sites with over 80
people for World Usability Day
But you can get reliable results
with as few as 5 users
77. But ﬁrst , know your user base
78. Let’s wrap
79. User experience design
demands us to understand how
people use, observe and even
feel about words and language
80. We can improve web
usability using language
81. Randall Snare @randallsnare
Elizabeth McGuane @emcguane