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Should We Use Video?

Following a handful of stakeholder meetings, one of my coworkers recently gave me a heads up that we should concentrate our content creation around videos. I was a little surprised to hear that, since we hadn’t spoken to end-users yet. As we discussed the situation, it became clear that these were the main reasons the client felt we should focus on video content:

  • Their team had already invested a lot of money in videos.
  • It’s easier to track user engagement on videos than for articles, because you can see both the number of views and how far into the video they watched.
  • Someone high up in the organization had expressed the strong opinion that videos are more fun than other forms of content.

None of these are good reasons.

Advocate for the user

Perhaps the most challenging job requirement for being a content strategist (or anyone in UX) is the need to advocate for the user. It’s a skill to hear a statement, and rather than accept it as fact, question “where is this information coming from?” It’s easy to hear someone say “we need to create videos” and follow up with “ok.” It’s much harder to ask “why?” and to do so without causing offense.

That’s not to say that we ignore what the client or higher-ups are saying. In this case, the fact that the client has already invested a lot in videos, and really likes the idea of using videos, makes the use of videos something to validate. We can then use user research to tell us:

  • How does the user tend to take in information?
  • Where does the user tend to find information online?
  • What devices do the users have, and how good does their wifi tend to be?

Opportunities and constraints

It’s possible that videos will end up being the content-of-choice for our users. And if it isn’t, then the client’s attachment to video becomes a constraint we can work with. We can look for places where a video will be relevant and useful,  or we can direct users to videos farther down the user journey, when they’re already engaged.

Balancing user needs with project constraints is an ongoing project. Finding the right content medium is just one way that this balancing act manifests itself, but it’s a key one. The next time you find yourself assuming that a user will respond to a certain type of content, ask yourself: where is this information coming from?

Marli Mesibov

Marli is a content strategist with a passion for the user experience. Her work spans websites, web applications, and mobile. Marli is the director of content strategy at the UX agency Mad*Pow, and she serves as managing editor at UX Booth, a publication about all areas of user experience. Marli is a frequent conference speaker, and has spoken at conferences including Content Strategy Forum and LavaCon. She can also be found on Twitter, where she shares thoughts on content strategy, literature, and Muppets.

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