How Content Can Influence Product: A UX Case Study
Writing content for a complex UX? Use a good old pen and paper.
All too often, products are designed and content is added as an afterthought. But what if content could be part of the very fabric of a product?
When content comes in too late, it’s, well, too late.
But when content is considered throughout the creative process, it can have an enormous impact on shaping its functionality.
01. The UX complex
Recently at Wix, the CRM team was working on completely rebuilding our Wix Automations feature. This team was being led by a talented and experienced product manager and a UX designer. The feature lets users set up automatic responses based on visitor actions on their site. In this new version, it was being expanded to a bigger platform where users could send triggered emails as well as notifications, chat messages and more.
Yet, the team struggled with the complexity of the product. The very early wireframes I received were difficult to understand, with multiple drop-down menus and much technical jargon relating to Wix Code. Content hadn’t been consulted and it showed.
I was asked to “put my text into the design.” But the design was not ready. Before the team went too far with this complex design, I decided to jump in and offer my input. I had a hunch that in order for the project to succeed, we needed to take a few steps back. So where could I start?
02. Out of site, out of mind
Luckily for me, all this happened right when I was invited to two training days at a nearby offsite location.
On the second training day at 3pm, I was feeling pretty tired. During an uninspiring lecture on company policy, I looked around and saw some other people nearby were drawing in their free Wix notebooks. So I did the same.
Without really intending to, I started scribbling the flow of setting up an automation. And after a few minutes, there it was, staring back at me. The skeleton of a simpler flow.
By going ‘offsite,’ I was able to think about the product clearly on my own. I could put myself in the mindset of users. They, too, are often on their own, sitting alone facing the product on their computer or mobile device. Disconnecting from the product for a while can be a good way to to empathize with the user.
That’s cute, but how can anyone take my scribbles seriously?
Well, in my case, I took this sketch and used it as the basis for my first draft of the content. I simplified the flow for Wix Automations into 4 simple steps:
Choose a Trigger
Choose a Message
Choose a Channel
Choose a Time
Then I shared this sketch with the team in a formal presentation with screenshots and comments. To my surprise, the team was grateful for my input and this sketch became the foundation of the new UX. This is not to say my sketch was complete – far from it. But it did help me simplify the product to its core purpose.
The UX designer adjusted a few elements for his wireframe, like combining steps 2 and 3. But the basic skeleton survived and, notably, the content influenced the product.
03. So what can you learn from this?
The pen is mightier than the wireframe The process of writing by hand, on old-fashioned paper, can greatly help UX writers and UX designers. Why? Because a blank page is unconstrained. You’re not restricted by resolution, drag and drop text boxes or some wireframe software. You don’t get notifications that interrupt. I remember my old creative writing teacher used to tell her students, “Your story lives at the end of your pencil.” I believe that this could be applied to any form of writing.
Get lost in space Writers need space, sometimes. George Orwell wrote his novels, including 1984, in a secluded garden shed in his remote farmhouse in Scotland. While most hi-tech companies may not be able to provide secluded sheds for their UX writers, there is something to be said about a change of scenery. Even when writing for a product, taking a step back can help. This is not to say that it’s not important to sometimes join the product managers, designers and developers in the weeds, but a writer can gain much from lifting their head and taking a look around.
Content is the core UX writing is more than what’s on the screen. To do it well, you have to understand the goal before it even gets to the design or wireframes. Content is an integral part of any product or feature. In some cases, it’s the most important factor of the product. In other cases, content actually is the product. For example, a welcome UX for an interactive chatbot is nothing unless the content is spot on. Yes, the look and feel is important, as is the behavior, but without the right attention paid to the copy, (to the minutest detail), even the best-designed product will fall short.
04. In short, when content is involved from creation, it creates better products.
Good UX copy is not just making the content more concise or easier to understand. Beyond that, UX writing should actually influence how a product is built from scratch. Rather than being the icing on the cake, content should actually be a significant part of the cake mix. Or, to use another metaphor, if a product is like a structure and code is its bricks and mortar, then content should be at its foundation.
Got any stories of how your content shaped a product? Share them with us using the hashtag #WixContent!
Daniel Savery Raz, UX Writer at Wix