Make it Nice

From Make Life Nice
I'm working on a huge series of copy decks, and it's the first I've produced at my new job. As I've been thinking more and more about UX, I've been ruminating on a habit I made when I first started working as a professional writer of trying to find the best way to convey my information to my colleagues.

When you work closely with designers and developers, it's helpful to understand what their needs are. Developers, for instance, are likely to enter phrases like "null" or a blank space for metadata or title tags if the copy deck doesn't include something specific. Designers entering content into a content management system would like to be able to copy and paste without having to worry about stray data from a Word document showing up as ugliness on production.

Coming to understand my colleagues needs has helped me to be able to craft content decks that will be delightfully easy for them to use. In a previous position, I got into the content management system to see the exact order of the data that the person entering the information would need, and I build my content deck in that order for her. It wasn't the order that was most logical for the user, which is the way I generally think, but it made it easy for the woman inputting the data to translate exactly what I wanted in exactly the right way (which, ultimately, meant that the user got the experience I'd strategized).

Understanding your colleagues' needs and serving them in this way makes working with content strategists more pleasant, and it has the bonus effect of allowing your strategy to come through more clearly and more easily. I don't have the definitive list of tips to make it nice for your colleagues, but here's a few that I think work well:

  • Minimize rework wherever you can. If you aren't sure that the deck has passed your manager, your editor, legal, or whoever is going to give you a stamp of approval, don't pass it off to a designer or a developer. If you must, make sure that they understand that it's incomplete information and that it might change. 
  • Understand what file formats or structures will be most helpful. If developers like files in .txt format, provide it for them in that way. 
  • Offer whatever metadata you would like included in your content. Don't anticipate that a developer or a person inputting information into a content management system will understand SEO best practices or take the time to complete metadata fields if you don't provide them.
  • Collaborate when you can. Designers, developers, internet architects and other members of your team will have ideas that can help you develop better content. Don't take feedback personally. If you're willing to collaborate and to compromise, you colleagues will be willing to do it, too.
  • Be nice! No matter what happens in the course of a project, having good relationships with the people on your team will make the entire process sweeter. 

In the end, as a user experience professional, you should consider the experience of everyone involved. From your own experience to that of your colleagues to that of the ultimate end user of whatever you're designing, make it nice. Turn down the metaphorical bedspread. Make it smell like lavender. Put a piece of chocolate on the pillow. You'll enjoy your work more. People will enjoy working with you more. And, you'll ultimately get your way more often.


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