How to Workshop Domain Mapping

“Future-friendly content design starts from sharing a common language with the users we are designing for and the wider team we design with. The space and context we are designing for has inherent terms, relationships, and rules. Our role as UX researchers and designers is to tease out these mental models and resolve them into an overall picture of a subject domain.” – Carrie Hane and Mike Atherton, Designing Future Friendly Content

I recently began work on a project in an area completely foreign to me: construction. Although I’ve owned my own tool kit since my 17th birthday (thanks Mom and Dad!) and I’ve successfully hung paintings in my house, I’m not what you’d call an expert.

Content strategists aren’t expected to be experts in every industry we might ever work in. But the question remains: how do you learn enough to do your job well? Continue Reading


Live from Litmus Live: Getting Started with Interactive Email

Getting Started with Interactive Email, by Alice Li

litmusAlice works at Shutterfly, is an art nerd, a comic nerd, and a code nerd. She’s seen email start “interactive” as gifs and blinking… and then we went into different timelines.

How do we get back to progressive enhancement in emails? We want interactive emails that still work for people who don’t have email systems that support interactivity (which is almost 40% of people).

What are the benefits of interactive email? Shutterfly has seen:


Live from Litmus Live: From {{me.name}} to {{you.name}}: Experimenting with Personalization

From {{me.name}} to {{you.name}}: Experimenting with Personalization, by Vicky Ge

litmusWhat is personalization?

  • It’s understanding that emails are a privilege, not a right. We don’t need to send them!
  • It’s realizing that our work is not about acquiring customers. It’s about them starting a relationship with us.

Personalization is based on great data – and customers are willing to share data, if they get something in return. It’s a handshake. Continue Reading


Marvel Comics and the Future of UI

kabam-marvelI’m catching up on Agents of Shield, and (not a spoiler) there’s a robot (technically an Android, as she looks human)  in a recent Season 4 episode. She’s a nearly-perfect humanesque Android, and her creator pronounces she has come “through the Uncanny Valley and out the other side!” She’s any techie’s dream creation.

Indeed, the Android looks and acts human* and easily passes most Turing Tests, fooling people into believing she is real, picking up on slang and idioms, even beginning to grasp when lying is “allowed” and when she must be truthful as programmed. It has also quickly become clear that her creator is in love with her, which is perhaps a Turing Test of its own.

This is not the only Marvel Android to mar the human/robot line, as well as the AI/UI line. This is where it gets interesting. Vision, for example, is an Android created out of an AI, and is now an independent entity with his own set of morals, beliefs, and emotions. Tony Stark’s Jarvis is a UI who is also arguably Tony’s best friend. And then there’s Karen.

If you haven’t yet seen Spiderman Homecoming, you might want to stop here. Because now, there are some (minor) spoilers coming up. Continue Reading


How to Start A Content Audit

You’ve just been handed an excel doc with 22,000 lines in it. “Here you go! Go do your content audit!” Your breath comes faster, and sweat breaks out on your forehead. How can you make this enormous mess of data anything useful?!

Take a deep breath. It’s going to be ok. Here are a few steps to start off a content audit and keep it manageable.

Reminder: What’s the Goal of a Content Audit?

The term “content audit” is a catch-all term used by content strategists and others to describe any sort of inventory or analysis of a large amount of information. A content audit is useful for many things during a site or app redesign: Continue Reading



We live in a global world. I hear it over and over, but what does that mean? Specifically, for content creators: what does it mean to live in a global world?

Among other things, it means that your target audience may look, sound, and even think differently than it used to. And I don’t just mean they need your website translated into another language.

Take for example, a hospital in Massachusetts. They used to cater to a predominantly white, English-speaking population. Now they have a fairly large Hispanic population. What does this mean they need to change?

  • Level One: translate the website to Spanish
  • Level Two: consider the needs of the population beyond language. Do they understand healthcare in the same way? Do they need different resources, different images, or different explanations?
  • Level Three: think about the culture. Do they look for the same health-related things that the old population did? Are they looking for things the hospital is capable of providing, such as a separate portal or more in-person opportunities for communication rather than phone?
  • Level Four: go to the bigger picture. What might they need from a higher level, beyond what the hospital can control? (i.e. is the US health system’s requirements supporting them) Continue Reading

Huis Clos: Furnished in the Style of the Second Empire

Second EmpireThey say not to judge a book by its cover, but when I walked into a hotel in Brussels and saw it decorated “in the style of the French Second Empire,” I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Scene description of Huis Clos (No Exit, in English): a plain room furnished in the style of the French ‘Second Empire’.

One note (and potential – minor – spoiler, for those who haven’t read No Exit). No Exit takes place in Hell. The implication is that Hell, at least for some people, is decorated in the style of Louis XIV’s elegant and overly elaborate red velvet brocades and gold and gilded chandeliers. So when I see that style, I immediately laugh to myself, “welcome to Hell.” Continue Reading


Live from HxR: Overcoming Barriers to Health Equity

Overcoming Barriers to Health Equity, by Samantha Dempsey and Olga Elizarova


Whose health are we designing for?

Often the answer is “people a lot like me.” People with a job, health insurance, a stable home. But what about people who don’t have the resources we take for granted? What does it mean to design “for health?”

The first step is designing what health means. Getting 10k steps in a day? Eating 5 servings of vegetables? Really it’s more than the sum of our health-related behaviors. According to WHO, it’s “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” We align ourselves closely with the healthcare system and what it says is healthy/unhealthy. But healthcare is responsible for only about 10% of health. Social and environmental factors, genetics – these matter significantly more. These are determinants of health. Continue Reading