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How to design killer micro-content

Micro, nano or pico content.

“Micro-content is small. In fact, it can be some of the tiniest bits of a framework and when it is done well, it’s often pretty invisible. The definition of micro-content has expanded in recent years and what was just a term used to describe labeling and calls to action is much more in today’s landscape.”

Carrie Cousins a.k.a./carriecousins1 | @carriecousins ~ design shack

How words are the foundation of interaction design

From words to stories, even in interactions.

“The words you choose, and how you put them together, will greatly influence your product’s overall message – and we’ll explain how using some words of our own. Below we’ll show you why words are the base of interaction design and how to know the context of the copy.”

(Jerry Cao a.k.a. @jerrycao_uxpin ~ Sitepoint)

Reuse is a good tactic but a poor strategy

Reuse was the holy grail of code, now of content.

“(…) reusing text where you would have been writing substantially the same text anyway is clearly the right thing to do. But taking all the various ways in which you might express an important idea and combining them into one expression is a bad idea. Your idea will have more impact and more reach if it is expressed in different ways and in different media for different audiences, different purposes, and different occasions.”

(Mark Baker a.k.a. @mbakeranalecta ~ Every Page Is Page One)

Good writing and editing is part of great design

Design is making decisions shaping the materials you work with. How many decisions do you make when writing and shaping your words, sentences, paragraphs, and stories? Writing is designing.

“Good writing is arguably the most important piece of a design project. Yes, writing. It happens before the first sketch. And then it continues to happen throughout the design process as text is written, rewritten and edited multiple times.”

(Carrie Cousins a.k.a. @carriecousins ~ design shack)

Reading on the web: Implications for online information design

Reading, still one of the most important activities on the Web.

“This presentation will sketch our evolving conceptions of reading on the Web. It examines the empirical literature about reading online with a focus on how reading has changed between 1980 and 2010. To support this analysis, I profile some typical purposes for reading online and suggest what these purposes imply for designing content and for supporting the human relationships that we intend to enable. I also point to research about how effective writing and visual design can help people understand, remember, and appreciate online content while creating human relationships and enabling actions.”

(Karen Shriver a.k.a. @firstwren)

Content, the once and future king

Shaping compelling experiences with data, lots of them.

“This is a new sandbox for technologists, data scientists, marketers, and experience designers. What are the corpora we have access to? What is lurking within our data smog? What are the new experiences we can create? No doubt we will continue to see art and humor, but let’s use those to inspire us as we imagine what else is possible. The biggest potential (and as always the hardest problem) is in the development of game-changing experiences. I look forward to seeing where this goes.”

(Steve Portugal a.k.a. @steveportigal ~ ACM Interactions November + December 2012)

How to Bake Content Strategy into Your Web Design Process

How can ‘developing content’ be a part of ‘content development’? Self-referencing.

“Let’s face it, content development is still a massively frustrating process.”

(James Deer a.k.a. @jamesdeer ~ Six Revisions)

Publication Standards: A Standard Future

Going back to The Document as the base concept.

“It’s never been a better time to be a writer. Anybody can publish their thoughts. Anybody can write a book and publish it on demand. Authors can reach out to readers, and enriching, fulfilling conversations can blossom around the connections we develop out of the things we make.”

(Nick Disabato a.k.a. @nickd ~ A List Apart)

Writing better link texts

Nano copy design improves holistic UX.

“Linking from your content is important – it builds credibility and improves usability, which combined equals more satisfied readers and hopefully return visits. Finding the right material to link to takes time and effort; effort that is wasted if no one bothers to ‘Click here’.”

(Mich Walkden ~ Mich-communication)

Designing for Content: Creating a Message Hierarchy

In the end, hierarchy will be replaced by network.

“When we integrate content creation early in our web development processes, we are more effective at orienting our conversations to the end goals for the user and the business. This is a huge win for our users, who are increasingly demanding meaningful content experiences before they engage with our web sites and apps. It’s also vital to businesses, whose success depends on communicating value in ways that convert bystanders to buyers.”

(Stephanie Hay a.k.a. @steph_hay ~ Web Standards Sherpa)

Jump Cut: Thoughts on Editing

“To be a top-notch film editor you need to have the eye of a painter, the ear of a composer and the story sense of a writer. You also need the ruthlessness of a commodities trader. What can designers, architects and writers learn from the art of film editing?”

(Adam Harrison Levy ~ Design Observer)

Online digital text and implications for reading in academe

“While the Internet is a text–saturated world, reading online screens tends to be significantly different from reading printed text. This review essay examines literature from a variety of disciplines on the technological, social, behavioural, and neuroscientific impacts that the Internet is having on the practice of reading. A particular focus is given to the reading behaviour of emerging university students, especially within Canada and the United States. A brief overview is provided of the recent transformation of academic libraries into providers of online digital text in addition to printed books and other materials, before looking at research on college students’ preferences for print and digital text, and the cognitive neuroscience of reading on screen.”

(Barry W. Cull ~ First Monday, Volume 16, Number 6)

The Importance of Web Content Strategy

“Some web design and web development agencies have it all. They provide their clients with a complete site solution from beginning to end, from site planning and information architecture to web design, web hosting, and SEO. It’s tough for a smaller web design company or the solo freelancer to compete. Or is it? It may be easier than you think to broaden your competitiveness by adding web content writing services to your web design company.” (Rick Sloboda ~ Six Revisions)

The Importance of Strategic Micro Copy: An iTunes Case Study

“Poorly devised, unhelpful content is wasteful. It potentially wastes the time of users and can also have financial implications for the company responsible for it, in this case Apple. Because they were not more thoughtful about their micro copy, they’ve had to correspond with me multiple times, costing them and me money and time. They’ve also left me feeling frustrated and, if at all possible, I will probably look to spend my money elsewhere. Lucky for them, they are one of the only providers of digital MP3 and video content online in my region of the world. Unless you’re Apple, can you afford to alienate customers because of careless copy?” (Amy Thibodeau ~ Contentini)

Why Curation Is Just as Important as Creation

“The personal web publishing boom has led to an information explosion. It’s a data free-for-all, and it’s just beginning. Andrew Blau is a researcher and the co-president of Global Business Network in San Fransisco. Blau has foretold the changes in media distribution and content creation. Now he’s watching this new, historic emergence of first-person publishing.” (Steve Rosenbaum ~ Mashable)

What is Intelligent Content?

“(…) is content which is not limited to one purpose, technology or output. It’s content that is structurally rich and semantically aware, and is therefore discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable and adaptable. It’s content that helps you and your customers get the job done. It’s content that works for you and it’s limited only by your imagination.” (Ann Rockley ~ The Content Wrangler)

A Contentmas Epiphany

“Be honest, did you immediately think of a sketch or mockup you have tucked away? Or some clever little piece of code you want to fiddle with? Now ask yourself, why would you start designing the container if you haven’t worked out what you need to put inside? Anyway, forget the content strategy lecture; I haven’t given you your gifts yet. I present The Twelve Days of Contentmas! This is a simple little plan to make sure that your personal site, blog or portfolio is not just looking good at the end of these twelve days, but is also a really useful repository of really useful content.” (Relly Annett-Baker ~ 24Ways)

Testing Content

“Nobody needs to convince you that it’s important to test your website’s design and interaction with the people who will use it, right? But if that’s all you do, you’re missing out on feedback about the most important part of your site: the content. Whether the purpose of your site is to convince people to do something, to buy something, or simply to inform, testing only whether they can find information or complete transactions is a missed opportunity: Is the content appropriate for the audience? Can they read and understand what you’ve written?” (Angela Colter ~ A List Apart)

Web Content That Persuades and Motivates

“In this article, I am going to explore the written Web site content whose purpose is to cause prospective customers to take action—or that results in their not taking action—from the perspective of its achieving a company’s sales and marketing goals. This discussion assumes the company has a service or product to sell. If you’’re not interested in the motivational aspects of sales psychology and what their proper use can do to help a company’s sales efforts, then stop right here, because you will not like this article.” (Chandler Turner ~ UXmatters)