How to Be a Content Therapist

I sometimes hear a content strategist joke about being a “content therapist”. But it’s not so far off! Most of content strategy isn’t about writing. It’s about listening. In a way, we are (unlicensed) therapists. Content therapists! In other words, we need to understand how people feel in order to communicate with them. How we…

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How to Handle Content Debt

As we approach the end of the year, many organizations are having their annual conversation around design freezes and technical debt. This year I found myself wondering: why don’t we have end-of-year freezes to spend time on content debt? What is “Debt”? Technical debt typically refers to work that piles up and never has a…

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How to Localize your Examples

When I think about a common snack food, I think of apples and peanut butter. But in many cultures peanut butter is a bizarre food, not a common snack. So in a recent localization conversation, a coworker asked “should we remove all examples?” The answer is no. Localize your examples! As we localize to different…

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Readability in Practice: My Grade Level in Covid

I consider myself something of an expert in readability (and specifically health literacy). Yet I was shocked to find that this spring, consumed by Covid stress, I couldn’t read at all. I now have my own experience to help me empathize with readability challenges. What is Readability? Can you read? It’s easy to think about…

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How to Create Unbiased Mental Models

One of my favorite best practices in UX is the use of “mental models”. Mental models help UX designers and content strategists create experiences that make sense. For example, a mental model of a door has it open from the side. This is a mental model so ingrained that no one would think to design…

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Clear Language Means Clear Understanding

As a content strategist, it’s easy to focus on clear language. But in my experience, the first step is understanding what you’re trying to say. A colleague recently asked me for help making a presentation clearer, before handing it off to a client. He sent me the paragraph of text he was struggling with. As…

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