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Writing thoughtful product content at scale

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Originally presented at Confab Central on June 9, 2017 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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As writers and content strategists, we know it’s impossible to write and review every single word that goes into a user interface. But even small instances of content, like error messages and button text, deeply affect how our customers feel when using our products.

So what’s the best way to help customers accomplish their tasks? Teach everyone how to write their own good content, of course.

Through examples of how this works at Shopify, you’ll learn how to help designers and developers think like content strategists. The key to improving your product’s content lies buried deep beneath lorem ipsum.

In this session, you’ll learn how to:

- Hold weekly “fresh eyes” sessions with your UX team.
- Teach people to write good error messages.
- Run product content onboarding sessions for new hires.
- Maintain living resources, like a content style guide.

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Learn more about Biz Sanford at https://www.bizsanford.com/ or follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bizsanford

Published in: Design
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Writing thoughtful product content at scale

  1. 1. Writing thoughtful product content at scale Biz Sanford @bizsanford
  2. 2. Ottawa, Canada
  3. 3. Why?
  4. 4. Support debt
  5. 5. Web content Product content
  6. 6. Web content Product content
  7. 7. 1. Develop guidelines 2. Onboard new hires 3. Hold fresh eyes 4. Run workshops 5. Pair write 6. Do things, tell people 6 ways to write better at scale
  8. 8. Adult learning
  9. 9. 70 20 10 Experiences Social Formal
  10. 10. “Don’t leave training to outsiders, do it yourself.” - Andy Grove, Former Intel CEO
  11. 11. 1. Develop guidelines 2. Onboard new hires 3. Hold fresh eyes 4. Run workshops 5. Pair write 6. Do things, tell people
  12. 12. - Style guides - Voice and tone guides - Vocabulary lists - Content playbooks - Content wiki pages - Component libraries
  13. 13. polaris.shopify.com
  14. 14. https://github.com/Shopify/rorybot
  15. 15. 1. Develop guidelines 2. Onboard new hires 3. Hold fresh eyes 4. Run workshops 5. Pair write 6. Do things, tell people
  16. 16. - What the product content team does - Shopify’s voice and tone - How to write for Shopify - How and where to get content help - Where to find content resources Onboarding new hires
  17. 17. What didn’t work?
  18. 18. 1. Develop guidelines 2. Onboard new hires 3. Hold fresh eyes 4. Run workshops 5. Pair write 6. Do things, tell people
  19. 19. Feedback is a gift
  20. 20. Help designers think like content strategists
  21. 21. 1. Develop guidelines 2. Onboard new hires 3. Hold fresh eyes 4. Run workshops 5. Pair write 6. Do things, tell people
  22. 22. Plain language
  23. 23. - What happened? - Where did it happen? - Why did it happen? - How does it affect them? - What should they do next? Anatomy of an error message
  24. 24. Communication style Positive outlook Intensity Fact-based
  25. 25. 1. Develop guidelines 2. Onboard new hires 3. Hold fresh eyes 4. Run workshops 5. Pair write 6. Do things, tell people
  26. 26. Driver and navigator
  27. 27. Content clinics
  28. 28. 1. Develop guidelines 2. Onboard new hires 3. Hold fresh eyes 4. Run workshops 5. Pair write 6. Do things, tell people
  29. 29. Be a broken record
  30. 30. 1. Develop guidelines 2. Onboard new hires 3. Run workshops 4. Hold fresh eyes 5. Pair write 6. Do things, tell people Today we talked about how to...
  31. 31. Questions? @bizsanford medium.com/shopify-ux

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