How to Write Useful UX Articles

As the managing editor at UX Booth, I see a lot of article submissions. Over the years, I’ve started to get a sense for whether or not an article will be relevant and valuable for UX practitioners. Only it’s not “a sense.” It’s actually an observation of patterns, and one I apply to articles I find and personally read in addition to those we publish on UX Booth.

With that in mind, here’s a quick list of tips for how to write compelling and useful articles for the UX community. While this article is by no means comprehensive, it is a guide I hope will be handy and perhaps amusing – and if I’m lucky, fellow authors will find it both relevant and valuable. Continue Reading


What Goes in a Content Style Guide?

A true style guide should include not only the visual brand elements, but the content guidelines. Since the voice represents the brand, content guidelines are a key component to any style guide. Last year, I recommended some of the content strategy deliverables that should find their way into a style guide to help both designers and content creators create their own guides.

I’ve since observed more and more style guides that get crammed with information, only to sit on the figurative shelf, unseen and unused. While this sometimes comes down to a lack of governance or undefined workflow, it’s also sometimes the fault of the guide creator. We put so much in the style guide, it becomes unusable.

With that in mind, how do you decide what goes into the style guide? Continue Reading


Live from CSForum: Content Modeling

Content Modeling: Make Content Smarter, by Angus Gordon

Take a look at the Facebook fields for creating an account. There are fields, one for each content piece. This is different from if they just provided a giant field for everything. If they did that, they would still collect the information, but it would be far harder for them to then use that information to deliver content related to your users, connect you to other similar users, know when your birthday is, etc.

All those things are structured content.

  • Structured content is chunks - breaking down content into components
  • Structured content is constrained – formatted, with set allowed values, sizes, character counts, etc Continue Reading

Live from CSForum: 10 things I learned in 10 years as a Content Strategist

10 things I learned in 10 years as a Content Strategist, by Rachel Lovinger

  1. Everything is content. It’s not just copy, it’s metadata, and medium. “The Medium is the Message” – Marshall McLuhan It’s the IA, the breakdown, etc.
  2. Content is communication. Traditional media was a broadcast communication model. You just hope the message was received. In digital media, there’s more flow. We share media, they respond. It’s multidirectional communication.
  3. Content strategy is concerned with content systems. “Content strategy is to writing as IA is to design” – that’s useful to those of us who understand it. For everyone else, content strategists build a framework for everyone to be able to work with content.
  4. Author experience is critical to content strategy. Authors are internal users, but we still need to think about them. If we don’t, the content won’t (can’t) be maintained. We need to give them intuitive tools that they will understand.
  5. Content needs to be structured. Display information needs to be separate from content types and attributes.
  6. Intelligent content needs metadata. There are 2 distinct focuses within content strategy: front end, and back end. What makes it content strategy (and not just publishing) is that content decisions are tied to bigger strategic initiatives and measurable goals.
  7. Content strategy isn’t a practice, it’s a methodology. You might work in science, but you’re a specific type of science. Similarly, there are all sorts of jobs/roles that use content strategy.
  8. We’re still young. There’s a lot of uncharted territory – we need people who can do all of the many things.

Live from CSForum: What’s your (business) problem?

What’s your (business) problem?: Selling content strategy into your organisation​, by Rahel Anne Bailie

If you’re not doing something for profit, it’s just a hobby. This is a main goal or businesses: to make money.

Speak their language:

  • People trust people in the know
  • Show them you understand the business goals
  • Use the vocab of the organization
  • Teach them the UX/CS language too Continue Reading

Live from CSForum: It’s not a technology problem

It’s not a technology problem, by Leisa Reichelt

Leisa works in government. It can feel like being a thousand monkeys on typewriters, but it’s for a good purpose.

“Be clear about what you’re doing. The reason is unlikely to be ‘transformation.’” -Kate Tarling

“Far too many people claim they’re doing ‘transformation’ when they’re merely doing the same things faster/cheaper.” -Dr. Jerry Fishenden

Doing the same thing faster/cheaper isn’t a bad thing. But it isn’t transformation. It’s possible that no government is doing transformation. It gets blocked, because business and IT would have to be aligned on the priorities. Transformation is way too much work for those two groups.

Real transformation is risky. Changing institutions is disruptive. It could result in people not getting paid, not being able to take care of their kids, etc. The risks when working in government are HUGE. So it’s valid that gov’t groups as: “why would we do this to ourselves?” Continue Reading


Live from CSForum: Content as Connection

Content as Connection, by Hilary Marsh

Our organizations are in the content business, but we don’t necessarily know that that’s what we do. We create content all day, no matter what we’re doing. The content we produce might show up in the world in ways we’re not expecting.

We want our content to make a direct connection, and help us take action.

Content is the way our work is manifested in the world. Everything your organization does is your content – not just marketing, not just purposeful storytelling. Content is the way our organizations connect with our audiences. We need to help make sure the content doesn’t look half-baked.

The better we can show the relationship and the value of what we do, the better off we’re going to be. The question to ask is not “what do we have that they want” but instead “what are they looking for, that we have?” Continue Reading


Live from CSForum: Opening Keynote

Opening Keynote, by Kristina Halvorson

We come to content strategy from many different paths, but we do have some things in common.

Kristina began in 2004. She was a web copywriter, and she remembers watching her first usability test and seeing people interacting with, usinglooking for content. This is when people would do content last, with no budget, after doing everything else.

“It’s not that I can’t crank out content, but I have questions.” Continue Reading


What Do Content and Feminism Have In Common?

Q: What do content and feminism have in common?
A: I don’t care if you use a different word to describe them, as long as we both know they’re important.

In a recent webinar, someone asked me “how do you handle it, when someone on your team asks you for text or uses the term words when they really mean content?” It’s a good question, since content strategists often get mistaken for copywriters, and we are still working to define our roles and educate team members on how we can best support them.  Continue Reading