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Making content patterns

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Making content patterns

  1. 1.
  2. 2. Hinrich von Haaren Making content patterns
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
  5. 5. Content patterns help me organise my work.
  6. 6. In the beginning there was a team…
  7. 7. British Medical Association
  8. 8. • stressful • emotional • hugely personal
  9. 9. Enter content…
  10. 10. There was lots…
  11. 11. Helen King/Cobis
  12. 12. How it all began
  13. 13. Discovery on type 2 diabetes.
  14. 14. Then we moved on to the next topic…
  15. 15. Astrochara
  16. 16. Basic notes on the content produced so far.
  17. 17. Organising information.
  18. 18. Design and content interlinked.
  19. 19. Merge our work, not duplicate it.
  20. 20. Let’s make content patterns
  21. 21. 1. How we talk about things.
  22. 22. 2. Why we talk about the things we talk about.
  23. 23. 3. Documenting what we found.
  24. 24. 1. How we talk about things.
  25. 25. Action-focussed.
  26. 26. Making the dense scannable.
  27. 27. When words need to step out of the way.
  28. 28. Apply the findings to other topics.
  29. 29. Formalised it into a pattern.
  30. 30. Identified variations.
  31. 31. Documented all our variations.
  32. 32. Described the overall pattern.
  33. 33. 2. Why we talk about the things we talk about.
  34. 34. Reassuranc e and action.
  35. 35. Transparency to reduce stress and anxiety.
  36. 36. Showing a simpler solution.
  37. 37. 3. Documenting what we found
  38. 38. Content direction. What? Content substance. Why? How? How? How? How? Research & prototyping
  39. 39. Content direction. What? Content substance. Why? How? How? How? How? Research & prototyping
  40. 40. Explaining concepts.
  41. 41. Content direction. What? Content substance. Why? How? How? How? How? Research & prototyping
  42. 42. Approach and examples to make it usable.
  43. 43. Not an abstract exercise. Product of making things.
  44. 44. 1. Solution research. 2. Documentation. 3. Example pattern. 4. Apply and refine. 5. Finalise pattern.
  45. 45. Was it all worth it?
  46. 46. Yes!
  47. 47. Collaboration makes a better product.
  48. 48. A better user experience.
  49. 49. We could go much quicker.
  50. 50. Part of my content routine.
  51. 51. Your content patterns depend on your audience and your product.
  52. 52. Start small.
  53. 53. Build by sharing work.
  54. 54. Talk to each other.
  55. 55. People. Product. Pace.
  56. 56.
  57. 57.
  58. 58.
  59. 59.
  60. 60. Thank you @popupstory
  61. 61.

Editor's Notes

  • I’m content strategist for Content Design London
    founded by Sarah Richards, former head of content at GDS
  • Group of people who go into organisations
    help people identify what kind of content they need
    how they’re going to get there
    started my content journey at GDS 8 years ago
    since then worked on many projects
    gov, private companies, charities
    and often I get this kind of impression of projects…
  • at the start of a project it’s a bit like an intersection in Tokyo
    everyone is waiting to go
    there’s a zebra crossing, so I know where I’m going
    and off we go
  • but then this happens
    OMG everyone is going in a different direction and doing their own thing
    what happened to the zebra crossing?
    I get the feeling of chaos, fog, not knowing what’s going on
  • that’s why I want to talk to you about content patterns today
    because they help me organise my work
    keep track of things
    prepare for the next stage
    today I’lll you how
  • let me tell you how it all started
  • we were a small group of people from different disciplines
    research, design, UX, developers and content
    also the amazing people who were managing the project
  • working for these people
    beloved organisation in the UK
    I thought this is just another project
    but I soon learned this was different
  • because you’re dealing with people who are ill
  • - and when you’re ill it’s stressful, emotional and highly personal
  • into the project mix
    what kind of issues were we trying to solve?
  • people get inundated
  • leaflets
  • online
  • forms, lot’s of forms
  • paper for patients
    paper for staff
    make information more accessible

    not just about content
    it was bringing the NHS patient experience into the 21st century
  • - so how did it all begin?
  • we started with a topic that’s very important to the NHS
    lots of people with type 2 diabetes
    many patients are struggling to manage their illness
    this is costly for the NHS
  • researchers went out and spoke to over 60 patients
    this is the start of our discovery map
    people journey through the illness in their words
    we grouped them into themes
  • we identified user needs
  • we crawled around the floor a lot and prioritised our user needs
  • we made prototypes
    researched them
    refined them
  • followed GDS design principles
    we were open about what we were doing and sharing regularly
    finished diabetes
  • mild to mediate depression
    we should be able to apply lots of our learnings to this new topic
    depression and diabetes were different but surely the patterns were the same
    patterns? what? I was stunned
    and then…
  • design elements
    documented behind my back
    why didn’t I know about this?
    while I had just written a lot of words - that’s how it felt
    I had thought about structure and tone and stuff but I hadn’t documented any of this
  • designers had done all this work
    content work had gone into a big black hole
  • the content designers had a KAPOW moment
    the designers had done all this work and we…
  • I felt like an idiot
    come on, throw something at me

    what had I been doing all this time?
    we had produced lots of content - good content
    but hadn’t thought about our approach and how to structure it

    ok, clearly it was time to shape up
    learn from the designers
    do my own thing
  • we went back over our work
    what had we done so far
    long form content and prototypes for tools
  • our approach
    what did we do
    why did we do it that way
    not a style guide
    not, for example, whether we start bullet list with upper or lower case
  • focussed on:
    how organised the information
    extrapolate those concepts from this one topic
    apply them to other topics
  • and pretty quickly we learned that you couldn’t really separate design and content on this
    we had work collaboratively on this
  • this was about merging things instead of duplicating stuff
  • decided that we needed something we called content patterns
    focus on 3 things
  • let me show you an example
    how we arrived at a pattern
  • acne
    what we had on the website was a comprehensive but not particularly helpful guide
    followed a standard structure of causes, diagnosis, treatment ….
    it wasn’t bad but it wasn't good either
  • lesson 1: what can I do about this
    changed structure and focussed on this first (not causes and diagnosis)
    YouTube videos focussed on self-treatment
    adopted that model
  • lesson 2: kids wanted to know about medicines
    there are lots
    reduce the cognitive load to present this information
    which aspects of meds to focus on
    how to present the info: not a big table but cards
  • live site explained symptoms in narrative descriptions
    not quite the right format
  • researched showed: people wanted to see images
    :how do people know they actually have acne?
    is this really acne or do i just have a few spots?
    when should I go and see someone about this
    we used visuals for different things: symptoms, progression of symptoms and urgency (see someone now if it looks like this)
    option to expand images: privacy and squeamishness
  • warts, head lice etc
    I’ll spare you images of those things
  • constantly discussed our findings
    changed the solutions
  • so we turned all that thinking into something more formal
    we had our first content pattern
    symptoms with images
  • or maybe just a simple bullet list
  • conditions with similar symptoms
    If you’re not sure it’s X
    positioning of symptoms
  • formalising
    identify variations
    describe the overall pattern
  • in research we found that people mentioned causes
    when asked why they couldn’t really tell us
    probing 2 reasons:
    I want to put a label on this pain
    then I know what I can do about it
  • people going into hospital
    no idea what was happening when with whom
    simple step list help them understand process
    address emotional needs: uncertainty, anxiety
  • Your pharmacist can help you with X
    this was an NHS objective to encourage people to talk to a pharmacist about simple illnesses
    our content patterns included formats for headings and links
  • based on user research, analytics
    based on user needs
    product of out discovery work
  • described these concepts
    gave examples to show how it should be done
  • conceptual thinking
    for example, how do we write about and describe pain

    pain was interesting from a content point of view because it’s so subjective
    what’s bad pain for me might be just an itch for you
    people’s descriptions of pain were very subjective, sometimes very poetic
    so how do we advise people what to when the pain got too bad
    when to see a doctor
    first we just used very plain language like you see here
    but when we started talking to nurses about this they did something quite different
    they linked it to daily activities
    is the pain so bad that you can’t get out of bed, make food, go to work, play with your kids, lift that glass of wine
    so we adopted that approach which was much easier to understand for people
  • described these concepts
    gave examples to show how it should be done
  • but we also included content formats
    for example different levels of emergency
    as opposed to a style guide
    concerned with text formats
  • 5 steps to get to patterns
    for every topic
    went quicker every time
    had a library
  • the pattern work happened collaboratively
    we would include them in our crits
    we had a content pattern owner who was in charge of updating the patterns
    but the work was done in the team
  • why?
  • - because…
  • - because…
  • - because…
  • now it’s part of my project routine
  • You’ll have different patterns for a pharmacy content project
  • and different ones again for a financial content project
  • people building the product
    people using the product
    more open and considered product
    go quicker every time you start a new topic
  • so actually this is ok
    because on the way we can document our steps
    and talk to each other
    and that way keep the overall goal in mind
    and it reminds me
  • that I’m…
  • there…
  • to serve…
  • the user…