Interview: Content Design – Working Together for an Elegant User Experience, by Dave Lippman and DeAnn Wright
DeAnn: How did your intro to content strategy start?
Dave: My experience started with content, and a fundamental thing was ensuring content strategists understood the problem, before they began crafting the experience. I still look back at that. It’s important that content strategy be pulled in before we start creating problems.
DeAnn: What’s your view on content and design? How do they work together to create great UX?
Dave: Those two things go hand in hand. My team is a fusion of product and content to create great experiences for our clients. When it goes poorly, design is not considerate of content. But fundamentally, we have to set those two up to collaborate naturally.
DeAnn: So what should a content strategist keep in mind when working with a designer?
Dave: Don’t trust them (joking!). Actually, designers are visual thinkers, so they understand things in multiple dimensions. They’re always trying to create tangible things, they think spatially. They’re also generally perfectionists, and they love to iterate.
Also, designers love to think they can write. Some of them can, but most can’t. The best ones know that content and design go together, and they can’t create a harmonious experience without considering how those things fit together. I see a lot of experience struggle because a designer has an idea of what the content should look and feel like, but they don’t understand how it will be accessed or created. So content strategists can help them to understand the implications of what they want to create.
DeAnn: the theme of Content Strategy Applied this year is “content across screens.” Do you know an example of a company that does this well?
Dave: A lot of newer startups design their experiences from start to finish with multiple channels and devices in mind, considering where their users will be at each step. What’s interesting about that is that for Airbnb, I believe about 2% of their audience comes through their website. So they spend much of their time understanding where their audience is, and what platforms and certain screens are using.
In a lot of ways, we at eBay are just getting started both from an organizational standpoint but also how we approach solving problems. We’ve restructured our teams so that they’re solving problems from a platform-agnostic standpoint. We’re in the process of modeling and testing that out, to see how to solve problems effectively.
DeAnn: What does it mean to create user experiences for global customers, and what do you see as some of the challenges there?
Dave: One challenge is wanting to roll out solutions globally, we want parity, but we also want to consider what our customers need on a local level. A lot of it comes down to orientation: where does it start? I used to work for a company that is decidedly based in California, and they were comfortable with that being their point of orientation. But a company needs to decide what they’re comfortable with. It varies for the company, and for the kinds of customers they have.