Content creation guide
For the simplicity and wisdom that resides in using the UX approach, it often hides away in design and tech spheres.
Even there, where designers create excellent products, the same principle isn’t always utilised for their content creation purposes.
UX is simply; user experience and maybe the language speaks more to a specific industry, but it shouldn’t because for every business there’s a customer, for every writer a reader, every content creator an audience.
Below is a guide to keeping using a UX approach to create content, whether or not you have a marketing team.
The customer is the starting point for a UX journey, and through this, a design emerges to meet the user’s needs. It’s a process that starts with a problem and works back to a solution.
It sounds simple, but it’s easy to work on something you assume people will like and need, without putting in the groundwork to consider the user’s actual needs. Then when it comes to marketing the product or blog, you find you don’t have an audience.
As a writer, I do it all the time.
However, using the UX approach to create content to market your business will ensure you can reach your audience; even if it’s one user at a time.
Now, let’s talk about the experience. You don’t have to be providing immersive VR products or interactive content to fulfil the X of UX.
Think of an experience as the reaction or emotion you want to give your user; for example, you may want to educate, inspire, give courage, give hope.
It’s a fantastic word to use with content creation because if you’re failing to give an experience, you’re not making an impact, and you may as well be talking to yourself.
My UX approach for this blog is to inspire businesses to create content with impact, especially now when funding or marketing budget is difficult to come by.
IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE
If you’re in product design, then no doubt you have created personas but before you start creating have a look over them again.
If you haven’t heard of them, they are a fictional representation of your ideal client. I have three. Here’s a blog I wrote previously on using personas.
Now let’s define the users of a piece of content; they’re not necessarily your clients. This blog, for instance, probably won’t be read by my clients; the users are blog readers, leads, affiliates etc.
If you’re a startup or a business a piece of content will fit into one stage of your customer’s journey; awareness, consideration, purchase, retention or advocacy (https://www.cim.co.uk/)
But one piece of content could fit into all five of the customer groups; the unifying factor is that the blog or video is helpful to all five; it gives them an experience.
What’s your hook as a business? What reason would a lead or customer have for engaging with your work? The answer to this resides in the solution that you provide, and that will depend on your user’s needs.
All roads in UX lead back to the end-user. It’s not a pedantic ‘customer is always right’ philosophy; it’s seeking to solve a user problem.
You should have a look at a high level as a startup up but also for each piece of content that you produce. The UX questions will guide you — who your end-user is and what’s the experience you are giving them.
What’s the mood you need to use when you convey your messages? Your tone is the link between your hook and your audience; it’s the voice you use when you are talking to your people.
Think about the adjectives and verbs you use when creating your content; align them with the tone you’ve chosen to adopt.
Do you have a wellbeing blog or product; your tone will want to be a combination of caring and confident.
Do you have a creative agency; your tone will want to be adventurous and playful.
For tech, you might have a lead base who don’t understand your product, so your tone needs to authoritative and educational without being too detail-laden.
Where does your audience reside? Sometimes we gravitate to the most popular channel, or what seems to be the most comfortable one. By doing this, we’re in danger of not reaching our audience because they don’t inhabit the spaces where you share your content.
Ask yourself a couple of questions.
- Where are experts in my field hanging out?
- Where do my current customers hang out?
- Where do my ideal customers hang out?
- If I add xx channel what happens to my subscribers.
WEBSITE HOME PAGE
I think everyone needs a website. It’s the first point of an intro, especially in times like these where we’re locked down. The ownership over your website resides with you as a business, and you’re entirely free to post what you like.
A website is the first place I go when I’ve seen a piece of content that appeals to me.
But from tech to wellbeing to services, I often see homepages and websites that fail to speak directly to me.
They might talk about certifications of the business or tech detail that I don’t understand but what that front page needs to say is why I should be spending my time reading about your product.
Sometimes I have no idea what the product or service of the business is.
Sometimes the image is at complete odds with what they say about themselves. For example, I reviewed a tech recruitment website that went to pains to describe how they were at the forefront of innovation, yet the image on the home page was a mountain. So are you new and innovative? Or old and ancient as a mountain?
Think through the imagery displayed on your website.
I think everybody knows this, but if not, Unsplash or Pixabay provide high-quality images that you can use royalty-free on your website. Do it!
But make sure it’s an image that corresponds with your business.
I’ve seen companies talking about themselves on their front page and what their product is, which is missing the real trick of engagement. Your home page is about your audience; not about you.
Also, mainly with tech companies, I’ve seen dense technical language. If your audience is savvy fine, but if not you might be baffling them and once you’ve lost concentration, it’s challenging to get it back. Your potential audience member has already flicked over to watch Ozark on Netflix — I included.
Go back to who your website user is and what they need to know about how you can help them to get them to invest more time looking through your site.
OTHER WEBSITE CONTENT
Get creative with the rest of your site; blogs, case studies, fun bits of original info, how-to-manuals.
Try this activity; sit down with a blank piece of printer paper and map out your ideal website. I always do this with new clients to get a feel of how it will look and how the content and layout will work together.
Draw a box for each page that you can think of that is attractive to your potential audience. Once you have a layout, start a list of things you could include.
You need a home page and a services/product page but have some fun with the others. Try these:
- Case Studies
- Mini Blogs
- Project Of The Week
- Thought of the Day
A ten-minute chat with any prospect of mine kicks off a long list of potential blog topics. Don’t assume that everyone has the same knowledge as you if that were the case you would have been out of business a long time ago.
Remember to keep your UX approach and ask the question — how can I attract the attention of and subsequently help my audience with my knowledge? That’s what makes great content.
Hook + purpose (+ beautiful image and good structure but we’ll come to that)
Activity — sit on a chair and come up with 12 ideas for a blog or article. Make them UX proof.
With 12 good ideas, you now have three months worth of blogging content. Do the same with your other sources.
Good business content roughly follows this structure.
- 1 — intro and user pain point.
- Two — solution.
- 3.-5 points on your answer.
- 4. Conclusion.
Always put your best points first and don’t rattle on about yourself. I watched a video with Seth Godin last week.
“Hi I’m Seth” — that’s all of the introduction he does because he knows that I know who he is because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be watching a video about him.
Every moment of attention is valuable. Spend it wisely.
Even if you’ve written the most fantastic blog or how-to guide, it still needs to be marketed. Never assume that people have the time to follow what you’re doing.
It’s not just a case of building the castle. It’s getting the bus out on the road and rounding up your guest and driving them there yourself.
The idea that your work speaks for itself is dangerous as a startup. You’ve got to talk for it before it can start to speak for itself.
I hope you’re about to sit down and start creating content. It doesn’t matter what form it takes if you’ve taken the UX approach to content creation.
Remember the two elements — user = audience, and experience mean emotional reaction.
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