Fundamentals of Content Strategy | Sarah Khan | Skillshare

Fundamentals of Content Strategy

Sarah Khan, UX Designer

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8 Lessons (1h 2m) View My Notes
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Writing for the Web

    • 3. Content Strategy

    • 4. Information Architecture

    • 5. Content Audits

    • 6. Card Sorting

    • 7. Site Maps

    • 8. Stakeholders and Teams


About This Class

UX Designers think that their job is all wireframes and prototypes, but content strategy is a crucial and overlooked aspect of the design process. 

Learn how to shape and write web content, organize large amounts of content, and learn why well-organized web content and site architecture are some of the keys to creating an intuitive user experience.

This class is for anyone who is interested in organizing websites better. UX Designers, Project Managers, Product Owners, Business Analysts would all benefit from this class.


1. Introduction: Well, hello everyone and welcome to the fundamentals of Content Strategy. My name is Sarah khan. I'll be your instructor for this course. I'm also a UX designer. Sometimes visual design is just not enough to make a website more intuitive, especially websites that have issues with their written content. And a lot of times UX designers really think that their job is going to be all wireframes and all prototypes. But actually content strategy is a crucial and overlooked aspect of the design process. So this class is really going to be all about the fundamentals of Content Strategy. One thing you'll learn in this class is you'll learn how to shape and you'll write web content. You'll also learn how to organize large amounts of content on websites. And you'll learn why this well-organized web content and a good site architecture, or some of the keys to creating an intuitive user experience. I'll even teach you how to communicate your recommendations to stake holders, which is probably one of the more important skills to actually making that real change. So communicating your findings and learning to team up with the right people in your group or in your team to get your ideas heard. These are strategies that I'll also teach you near the end of this course. And that's actually going to be What's going to help you make some real change on your team and to really be recognized for your change and to influence others. So who is this class for? So I am a UX designer. So you're going to hear me reference designers a lot. And probably my perspective is that of a UX designer more than anyone else. But actually I think this class can be for a lot of other different job families. If you are a designer, this class is going to be great for you. If you are a business analyst or a product owner, or even our Product Manager, I believe you'll be able to learn something from this class and you'll definitely be able to benefit from this class and for the class project. So at the end of the course, you're going to be able to do a class project on this website. So www dot Lexington, I chose this website. If you have another website you'd like to use for your class project, you're welcome to use a different website. This is just a sample of a good example. At the end of this course for the class project will have you conduct a content exercise that you learned in this class. We'll have you conduct that exercise on the website you see here or any website of your choosing. I'll also ask you to recommend better ways to organize the content on this website. So that'll also be part of the project. And lastly, for your project, don't forget to share your work in the comment section. That's the only way sharing your work in the comment section is going to be the only way that others will get to see your work and I'll get to see your work as well. So with that said, let's get started on our next lesson is called writing for the web. So I will see you guys there. 2. Writing for the Web: Hi everyone and welcome to our next course called writing for the web. So like I said earlier in my previous video, UX designers often think their job is mostly all wireframes, prototypes and visual related design, but actually written content also plays a crucial role in making an intuitive website. So let's go over some behavior patterns first that users tend to have in the digital world. And I think this is gonna give us a really good understanding of why a web writing or writing for the web even matters to designers or should matter to designers. The first bullet here is just talking about attention spans in the digital world. So actually if you didn't already know users in the digital world who are using digital products. Their attention spans are very short and not even, you can't even measure it in a matter of minutes or seconds. You actually have to measure it in fractions of seconds. So users typically will spend fractions of seconds looking at a web page, trying to figure out if that web page is useful for them or if that's going to actually get their tasks done. So that's one big important piece of information. And another one to go along with that is that users really want to do things fast and the digital world, that includes reading. So they really, you know, users typically expect a little bit of that instant gratification, so to speak. They really want to be able to complete their tasks quickly and find what they need very quickly. What that means is that they tend to scan and scan text rather than read that text deeply. So, you know, if we think about the way we read novels or books, we really tend to read deeply and we, we tend to like, get really into that book. And we could even spend hours reading books, some of us. Well, that's not always the case when users are using webpages to complete a task. Typically, when users are on web pages, they tend to scan tax, they tend to skim. They wanna see those main points up in front. They, they really want to make a quick decision on as far as what's the most useful for them. And so how can users, the big question is really how can users do these things? If the instructions or content on a website or just not properly designed for them to do. Well, there are a couple of ways that we can actually figure out if a website's writing is not effective. So you're writing or your website's writing, I should say, might be ineffective if here are a couple of points here. One is if the language on that website is too technical for the audience. So a lot of times what happens is you'll see, and I'll give you some examples of all these different points in this class. Actually, if the language is too technical for the audience, it, it's possible that users don't even really understand what you're trying to tell them. And if they don't understand, they are not going to be able to make clear choices. And another way to figure out if your website writing is ineffective is if the copy is too long. So either you're going to have paragraphs with really high WordCount and they're huge paragraphs maybe that go all the way down the page. With no break. So long form copy with no break. Or if the, if the length of that line spans all the way from the left side of the page, all the way to the right side of the page. These things are going to indicate that the copies to long and like we said earlier, users really want copy that allows them to skim and scan, not necessarily to read deeply all the time. And so this is going to, this is going to create a lot of friction for your users. And other thing you might notice is that the choices that are being presented to users. So for example, in a modal where a user might have to choose one option or the other, yes or no, or save or go back. You know, save or cancel these options need to be clear to the user. If, if those options that you're presenting to users are unclear, that's going to be another really strong sign. I should say red flag really that the writing on the websites probably not effective. And lastly, this, this last bullet kinda goes with the first one. If the content is being written by people like web developers on your team or stake holders, basically people who are relatively technical and usually they don't have a whole lot of interaction with end-users that a UX designer might have or a product manager might have. Those people who are not directly interacting with users. If they're writing the content, then you might. That might be another reason why the writing on that website might be ineffective. So these are just a handful of reasons, but they tend to trend across a lot of websites that I've seen. So this is one example, actually three examples I should say, of good versus bad writing. So each screenshot here that has a red X over it is going to be, you know, that example of bad writing. And the green check is going to be an example of good writing. So over here on the left we've got two models. One at the top is just too technical. It says failure and authentication error has occurred. I you know, if if somebody saw this modal, I don't think they would immediately be able to tell exactly what they did wrong. There's really no way to tell the authentication error is just to technical of a language for someone a typical user to understand. Now at the bottom is a lot better. It tells me exactly what I did wrong and have a sign-in era. And I entered an incorrect password and we're we're getting rid of all that technical language that is just too, too confusing for users. The one in the middle is an example of when we just have paragraphs that are too long. So at the top we have this whole paragraph trying to explain a service to somebody. It's trying to explain why somebody would want to use the service as well in the process. That's a little bit too much information for somebody who might just want to go to this website to see what it's all about. And it's not conducive to someone be wanting to scan or skim. Any of this information. Now if you look at the bottom example, we were able to reduce that belong paragraph to one headline, help your clients complete their financial disclosures quickly and cheaply using technology. So distilling it into one headline in big font really is a lot more conducive to people scanning or skimming and really understanding why they might want to be on this website. And the last example is a great example of just really confusing choices. So the first modals says, is this shipping to the USA or Canada? Cancel equals no, okay, equals yes. This is incredibly confusing as if I was looking at this as a user and it looks like somebody might be trying to order something and ship it to a specific location. I would have no idea which choice to take. This is way too convoluted, it's too confusing. Now at the bottom, we have something a lot better. Are you sure you want to permanently delete this file? It even gives me some details of the file. And I have very clear yes or no choices. So I know with the bottom example, I know exactly what I'm about to do and I have no confusion about that. So we can see here again that example of unclear messaging having a huge effect on how users behave on the website. So we've talked a lot about, you know, what goes wrong with copy. Now we can talk a little bit about how do we fix bad writing. So how do we actually get started on fixing something that's bad writing? So one great resource that I, I'm gonna show you some examples from in the next slide is called plain I encourage all of these students to go on this website and just read up on how to write in plain language. This is a really great resource too. Kind of get rid of a lot of that convoluted messaging or that technical language. And other thing we could start paying attention to is called micro copies. So that yes or no, yes, no choices. You know, micro copy is a word that literally means little bits of copies. So, you know, the ok. On a confirmation modal is micro copy. It's really important to pay attention to those things because that really is what guides users and through the entire website or through a task that they're doing. So microscopies really important. There might be people on your team who aren't paying attention to these small words. And that could have a really detrimental effect on, on, on usability for long form copies. So those paragraphs that you might inevitably have to publish pages with paragraphs. The best way to deal with those is to format the paragraphs, chunk out the sections into smaller paragraphs that have a very clear sort of like main point. You could even use subheadings or headings to make it easily scannable. And lastly, kinda in each paragraph, one really great strategy is to lead with the most important information first in that paragraph. So you could even format that important information in a specific way, like bolding it. But leading with it first, or separating, separating it out and putting it as sort of like the first sentence is going to help users scan and skim that texts a lot easier. Another way to fix bad writing is to just do a lot of user testing on these pages. You know, I've, I've highlighted two example questions here. What do you think this will take you to? You know, you could use that as, you know, if you're testing out modals, the copy on a modal for example. Or do you know what this will do? So that's a great example for if you're testing out their copy and, and navigation, where, where do you think this will take you to? Where do you think this is gonna go to? Or do you know what Clicking This will do? It should be immediately obvious to users. These are just sample questions. But what I'm saying is it should be immediately obvious to users what they should be able to do there. If it's not, then you might have a problem with that writing. And the last bullet is actually going into my next video, I'll show you some content strategy tactics that you can use to start fixing bad writing. So here are some examples that I actually took from plain Again, just going through some more examples of good versus bad writing. So on this left hand side we've got a before which is longish paragraph of really important information. It's about receiving an application. The after actually utilizes some formatting techniques to make this a lot more readable and a lot more useful over people. So if a user were to scan this after this little table that shows up here, if you submit your form, but you know, either electronically or not electronically. Each method has a different date that this organization has to receive your forum by. So this right hand side, this after is a lot more scannable for most users. That paragraph on the left-hand side is it's almost like hiding it. It's gonna feel to the user like they're hiding important information behind this paragraph that they don't really feel like reading deeply. They're going to try and scan or skim this paragraph and they're just not going to get what they need to get out of it. So that right-hand side is a lot, lot more clear. And then on the right-hand side of this slide we have another before and after again. This before is a long paragraph describing this initiative. It's a little bit too much information for somebody to quickly grasp. So what they've done is again, they've reformatted it. They've given a heading, and then they've actually been able to reduce a lot of the copy to just like three. It looks like two sentences help us improve our service to you. Attendant opened or forum near you for information about upcoming forums, visit So it's actually three sentences. And it's just really clear to the user what it means to, you know, what they'll need to do if they need to do anything and what the website wants from them. So it's just a lot easier again to skin and skim that information. And we've got one more great example of long-form copies. So sometimes you're going to have pages that just have maybe hold essays or a whole paragraphs of information on them. On this left hand side, we see a way to publish that information. That's not very conducive to online reading. I mean, again, it's, it's hard for a user to scan and skim this in order to find information that they really need. You know, if someone was really, really enamored with whatever topic this is, yeah, they, they might want to spend an hour or two deep reading, but that's not going to be the majority of people that visit the site. The majority are just scanning or skimming important information and this left-hand side doesn't allow them to do that. Now the right-hand side is where we employed some formatting and chunking of these paragraphs. So whoever wrote this, they were able to chunk the paragraphs into sort of like smaller paragraphs that are a lot easier to understand, a lot easier to scan and skim. And actually if you read these paragraphs, they actually put the main point up first. And in each paragraph the first sentence is probably the most important sentence, so it's a lot easier to scan and scan. And then you see this sort of like text that's a lot bigger right in the middle of the page. The perfect tool should look similar to their design tool. This, these two sentences here. This is again, a great way to pull out and reformat a piece of tax to grab a user's attention. And again, reinforce the ability of them to just scan and skim that tax and understand what the story is about. So this is a great example of a formatting, chunking using headers, things like that to just like make this a lot more usable. So that's all about web writing. Our next class is going to be all about content strategy. So I can't wait and I'll see you guys there. 3. Content Strategy: Okay, so welcome back. This video is going to be all about an intro to content strategy. So we're going to use this video to talk about what content strategy really is. I mean, it's the name of this class and it's mostly what you're gonna be learning about in this class. So the definition from is that content strategy focuses on the planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content. Additionally, content strategy should plan for valuable, findable, and meaningful content. So I got that from UX And when we talk about these key words, planning and creation are two key words that I had bolded in that previous slide. So that really talks about how the content is organized on the website and how the contents written. So it really should be written for your audience and your users. And it should be organized in a way that's intuitive for those people to find. Whatever journey those people are on, whatever tasks they're trying to complete, it should be organized in such a way that's easy for them to find. And other bolded word I had on that slide was delivery. So that's how users are going to consume or interact with your content. So that really takes into account things like, you know, what screens or devices they might be using. What is the environment in which they will use that content? You know, those are some really key questions to talk about delivery. When in a users sort of journey, are you going to show them this content is another question that would go under that, that subject of delivery. And then governance is really about who's going to write or manage that content in the future. And what are you gonna do with content that becomes irrelevant or out of date? So this really helps to future proof. Your content strategy governance really helps to do that. So, you know, content strategy is about fixing what you have in front of you and then creating a plan of governance plan to continue managing that content for the future, to ensure that it is always going to be useful to people. And we really should take a user-centric approach to content. So it should be planned and governed with users in mind first. And typically what happens, and I've mentioned this before, like stake holders, like, you know, it could be a high-level stake holder or a team member who has who does not have a lot of exposure to users, very little exposure and she users, they tend to be more technical or business minded. So this could be a web developer who's writing the content is usually too technical and going to be writing things as well in a way that's too technical for the audience. Or a lot of times it can even come from a marketer or somebody who is an executive or just anybody who doesn't have a lot of exposure to users. The resulting content is not really going to resonate with real users. So that's really important to keep in mind. And here we have just an example of trying to employ the user-centric content strategy. So you see the before on the left-hand side of this website and the after. So there are some changes here. So the before has a bow. It looks like in the top menu, almost ten menu items including those social icons. And you know, they used, they used a quite a big line length in that sort of middle area where it has Contact Us. Where you see sort of this value statement and use these sort of a description of what they're, what they're offering to people. On the right-hand side, it looks like a redesign this website more with shoppers and mind, really people who are here on this website to shop, right? So you have these big colored calls to action. That's a shop now for different types of furnishings, that menu, they still have it, but it's up at the top right, so it's not as intrusive. And it really puts the focus on the products that users want to buy on this website. So even in the bottom, you have a section now titled a featured products. And it just really allows users to come to this website and shop, which is probably their main customer base, is people who want to shop for office furnishings. So they've really been able to cater to that with this redesigned website. And that's really a quick primer on content strategy. Then next class is going to be about information architecture. So I will see you guys there. 4. Information Architecture: Alright, hi everyone and welcome back. This video is about information architecture. So I'm going to talk a little bit about something that you might remember back in school. You might have been taught the Dewey decimal system. If you don't, I'm going to kind of introduce it to you. How do you find books in a vast collection like a public library? So the Dewey Decimal system is a system of numbers and letters. It's really a system of codes that helps us find exactly what we need in a really big collection of books. So it really helps us narrow down easily what we want without any distractions and achieve that goal of finding a very specific book. So we can actually use codes like you see on the right to narrow it down by like the type of book and as well as the author and things like that to go to the exact shelf and very quickly pick out the book that we want. We can even use a computer to store these codes and look up these books faster than ever. So the Dewey Decimal System is a great way to find books. Now, how does this tie into this lesson? Well, and the Dewey Decimal system is actually a type of information architecture. So what is information architecture, this kind of big, sort of nebulous word. The definition of information architecture is creating a structure to allow users to know where they are and how to get to their desired goal. So users should be able to understand where they are in relation to where they want to be or where they were before. We actually call this spatial reference. This is past and future spatial reference. And spatial reference is something that's been an innate human tendency. We all can reference our selves spatially from something else. But typically we need to be helped by a specific system that helps us do that. So the Dewey Decimal system is one of those systems, right? If you're in a library, a lot of times you need to know where you are in the library in relation to where you want to be, aka where you want, where you were. That one book that you need is in the library, right? So that's, that's an example of spatial reference. And really this is just information architecture at a high level. So the Dewey Decimal System is one application of this sort of theoretical concept of information architecture. And so, you know, like I keep saying that Dewey Decimal system, we can find the type of book with this system. We can look up the title and author codes. I can also know where the book is located in the library based on those codes. And I can get to that place in the library relative to where I am currently standing in the library. So again, that spatial reference, this system really helps people reference where they need to be. So that's a really key point. So what is information architecture? Now that you kind of understand the concept of it? What does it mean for the digital world? So websites and applications, what does information architecture mean for those things? So for digital products, the goal of information architecture is to let people easily navigate complex sets of information. So users should be able to easily navigate through a website. The website should be presented in a clear and logical way. And they should be easily able to navigate things like menus, sub menus, or sections within pages to find content that they might need or that they might find valuable. And that one piece about content is really important. So the way this relates to content is that valuable content is really only valuable if you can easily, or a user, I should say, can easily find that content, okay, so if you've got valuable content on your website, but no way to easily find that content. Ultimately, it's not valuable anymore. So it really needs to be easy and navigable. And that content needs to be able to be easily found by the right audience in order for it to be ultimately valuable. And some other benefits of good information architecture. And one thing I like to point out is that our information architecture, kind of the way your site is organized, actually helps search engine optimization. So that's called SEO. Seo is actually really improved on websites that have good information architecture and Google Search will actually rank websites with good IA as being more trustworthy web sites and more authoritative sources. So organizing your website in an intuitive way is actually it has other effects and other, other specialties, specifically SEO. And the larger and more complex the site is more important. This information architecture becomes for the users. And that's really just a quick primer on information architecture. We're going to use these concepts and other classes. Our next class is called Content auditing. It's a strategy that you can actually apply to any website. And this is kind of a method for the research phase. So that's what we will get into next. And I can't wait. I'll see you guys there. 5. Content Audits: Hi guys, welcome to this next class on content audits. This is a method that you can actually apply in the sort of discovery phase of a project. And when you're just starting to understand our project and kind of all of the issues and the problems you'll have to tackle in that project. So let's get into it. So what is a content audit? A content audit is really something that's very useful. I'm to audit all the existing content on a site and to understand what content is in scope for the project. Really, this is a method to understand what is the existing content on the site. Who is that content for? The state of the content. So we want to figure out if that content is up to date, if it's outdated, if it's inaccurate, et cetera, there might be other states there, as well as how the content is organized. So, you know where in the navigation is that content going to be as a question there that we can answer with this exercise? And why would we do a content audit? Well, it really helps to give everyone on the team and understanding of the current site structure. So we really want to understand that's why I say this is a method in the discovery phase because we really want to understand what is the current structure of the site as it stands today. And we want to be able to make better decisions about who should see content and at what time they should see it. So that delivery of content we want to be able to in the future of this project, make better decisions about who should see that content and how that content should be delivered. We also find that content oddest useful for trimming the sight of useless information. So like I said, the state of content is really important to figure out whether or not it should even be on the site or maybe it should be archived, for example. Either way, just getting sort of less useful information or outdated information out of the immediate view of the user, the content audit can really help do that. And lastly, the content audit can help rally teams around usability and content problem. So it's really going to give, you know, if you're able to kinda socialize or show other team members the results of this audit. It's really going to help give them sort of a starting point for what do we do with these usability problems that result from the bad content? So how do we do a content audit? So it's really going to be a content audit. Really, when I've done it is always almost a spreadsheet. The first step is to all of the site URLs that are gonna be part, as well as sub URLs that are part of this project. You will pull up all of those into a spreadsheet that will be one column. And I'll show you guys an example in a couple of slides of how it actually looks. Then you will have other columns for different pieces of information about those URLs. So you're going to have a column most likely for the type of content that's on those pages. So for each URL, what type of content lives on those pages? Is that an image, text file download? Maybe it's a PDF, maybe it's an HTML page, for example. And then you're going to have the title of the page in one column and other columns going to have the purpose of that page. Another column is going to have the navigation levels. So where in the navigation does a user need to go to get to that page? Is it going to be closer to sort of the top navigation like level one or is it going to be sort of deeper down in the site like a level two or 31. The user persona that benefits is also really useful, knowing exactly which audience segment of the audience is going to benefit from that page. If you have user personas, that's a great thing to include in your audit, as well as the date the last data was updated and the actions that you might wish to do on this particular page. If you want to keep the page, do you want to revise or rewrite that page, or do you just want to archive it or deleted? And usually with content on it's, you're gonna find a lot of revising going on, as well as some archiving for these pages that are just not useful for people. There are actually some tools, like tools that can help grab this information so you don't have to do it all by hand. You know, a web site, depending on the size of that website, could be hundreds of URLs. You may not want to do it by hand. And there's a, there's a program called Screaming Frog. There's another one called Content Analysis Tool, shorthanded as cat. And both of whose programs will actually grab some of this information. And the first, second bullets, they'll actually grab some of that for you so you don't have to do everything by hand. This is a great exercise for any designer as well as any business analysts could really help out with this type of exercise. When to do a content audit. So when do we do it? Like I said, this is a great exercise for the discovery phase when you're just starting to identify problems that need to be solved to later on. And it can really help rally teams around usability and content problems that need to be fixed in the project. You can refer to this deliverable again and again throughout the project, I've always found it as a really useful tool to just get a bird's eye view of the way the website is. So we're going to just go through a quick example. I actually did this project on this insurance website many years ago. So a local insurance company website was out of date and their web content was not well organized for their users. They have new clients and existing clients, insurance agents and providers, as well as the general public. If these user groups can't get to their desired content quickly, they're gonna clogs customer service with many requests. Or even worse, they're just going to stop doing business. So how might we organize the content in such a way that these distinct user groups, like I had just mentioned before, can easily self-serve and answer their own questions. This problem statement actually would have been hard to arrive at if I hadn't done a content audit. So let's take a look at what that audit for this insurance website looked like. So like I said earlier, it's really just a big spreadsheet. And you can see at the bottom, I had actually separated the sections of the site into tabs. And then in this left-hand column called URL, I grabbed all of the URLs that were under each section. And I believe I used one of those tools. I think I used the Content Analysis tool to grab all of that for me. I then was able to identify what type of page It was. A lot of these pages and it being PDF's, some of them were text HTML pages. I was able to go and do the navigation level. So how deepen the navigation, where these pages, you can see that a lot of them were like a level two or level three. I then had some other data like the title, The word count, or the page. When I could grab the word count, I would put it there and add all the way on the right, you'll even see one called Audience. So this client that I worked with actually had persona's. I could reference and I actually put which persona's were relevant to each page. And this was really helpful to identify like, you know, who overall was the website really speaking to and wasn't really speaking to all of their persona's equally or were there some more than others? And just keeping on with this spreadsheet, you can tell it's a really long spreadsheet. I also put relevancies of that's sort of like is an outdated, is the content always going to be useful, or is it time-sensitive? So some of these things, actually you can notice a lot of this content was outdated. And so those instructions and end up being a lot of that content needed to be either archived or deleted or rewritten. So we have instructions to either rewrite, archiver, delete, or keep as is. And I started my recommendations in a section I had made all the way on the end called notes and I just like I would type in my comments as I saw things on these pages that stuck out to me. And this helped me formulate my recommendations. So in this next slide, this was actually, this is a snapshot actually of sort of a rough executive summary of what I had found after I had completed all of those tabs, all of those sites sections, I found some interesting data points. I found that 60% of all URLs, if you look on the right, 60% of all URLs were PDFs, and half of those PDFs were so outdated that they should just be deleted. So these hurt really, really significant recommendations that are hard to arrive at if you don't have a bird's eye view of what's going on on the website as a whole. So this content out, it really helped me do that. The persona's, I was able to figure out who, you know in their audience was being served more than others by this content. And then of course, I have sort of these top-level observations and thoughts. You know, I found out that a lot of these top-level pages, the way that they wrote their content. They started off these pages with IM and dot-dot-dot it trying to, they're trying to make it relevant for people, but it actually wasn't very useful. I found that there weren't a whole lot of calls to action, but there there were tons of opportunities to make those. Like I said, majority of PDFs were outdated. Generally, this number four bullet, the word count on this website was just so high. Again, we have talked about this in previous videos. These should be really reserved for deeper in the navigation because wordiness is really a problem. And on this website, so lot of really interesting observations and I was able to arrive at just by doing this strategy. And that's really it. That's, that's, uh, an introduction into content auditing. The next exercise we're going to go over is one called card sorting, which is a great method for research and ideation of new solutions. So we're gonna talk about card sorting next. And I can't wait to see you guys there. 6. Card Sorting: Hi everyone and welcome to this next class. This is a class called card sorting, which is a great exercise to do for the research phase of a project, or even when you're just starting to ideate on solutions. So how do we card sort? You're just going to need a few things to do. A card sort. It's honestly a really easy exercise. You're going to need a few end users. I would recommend at least between three to five. You can certainly do card sorts with large groups of users. And you're also going to need a handful of index cards. Or if you do this, virtually you can actually use a virtual card sorting tool. And I didn't put any softwares on this presentation, but I will link a few in the comments for you guys. So the first step to do a card sort is to take your index cards and on each index card write a different word, ligate, different term that is relevant to your product or your project. So you might have about 20 to 30 different terms, each to its own card. And these are really going to be things like keywords or words that come up in your research, or words that are irrelevant to your website or product. The next step is to use a couple more cards about, you know, I would recommend between 56 to create high level categories. So these cards are going to be sort of high-level buckets or categories. And the third step is when you have your end users, you just ask each user to sort these cards under the categories that make sense to them. So it's honestly a really simple exercise. You can do this one on one with users. I would really recommend doing it one-on-one. That way you get a really good sense of how each user does the cards or it because your results as and as, as I will tell you later on, your results are probably going to be different between the different users that you're using. And why do we do a card sort? Well, you know, like I said, it seems like a really simple exercise, but actually a card sort really helps us understand how content can be organized with the user in mind. So card sorting is a chance to understand your users mental models and the way that they think about the vocabulary or the terminology, or the categories or the subject matter on your website. Different people. So when when users have different backgrounds or they may come from maybe different types of persona's. You know, that they may be representing different personas or they have different experiences. They're going to actually, you'll see some differences in the way that the do the card sort and card sorting can actually inform IA elements like the navigation or menus and your navigation that those, those top-level menus. And they can even inform how you go about organizing pages that are very heavy and written content. And there are a couple of different types of card sorts. So there is called an open card sort where, if you remember, like I said, to create top-level buckets, the open carts are actually does not have top-level buckets. And it actually allows end users to create their own as they sort. So this is a great card sort to you for new products or even smaller size websites. You get a sense of how users would organize certain terms and you let them kinda make their own top-level categories. A closed chord story is creating those top-level buckets or categories yourself, and allowing users to only sort within those categories that you're providing. So they only are able to put terms other index cards under each of the categories that you already have and you don't allow them to add more categories. This is great for large websites with lots of content or really niche or really specialized domains. This is also a really great method. And a hybrid card sort is really a mixture of the two. You're going to, you as the designer or as the team member, is going to create categories. But then you're also going to allow users to create their own if they wish. So they're going to have categories to start out with. And then you're also going to allow users to create their own categories. So I know I've been talking a lot about this. Let's look at an example maybe. So a great example would be something related to human resources. So how, you know, what would employees categorize as information that's related to benefits or related to their career or professional development. You know, if you're designing a website related to human resources as I did one time for our project, we actually did a card sort to determine how employees would categorize different subjects are different subject matters under these categories. So you can actually answer some of these questions with a card sort. So this is an example of a card sort using actual index cards, we can see we have six categories up at the top, and they all relate to human resources in some way. And the subject here is starting to sort the other cards underneath each of the categories in a way that makes sense to them. So the key here is to not really don't influence them in any way, just let them kind of sort in the way that they want. And another great tip here is, again, like I said before, to make sure that you do these with one on one. So you do a card sort one user at a time. And again, that just, you know, kind of reduces any sort of influence from others. And it really allows them to make their own kind of judgments on what card should go under what categories. And you really will find that users will have some slight differences in how they sort and that's totally fine. That actually is the whole point of having this card sort. And that was it for card sorting. The next class is about Site mapping, which is again, a great way to ideate and design a new information architecture. And I can't wait to see you guys there. 7. Site Maps: Hey, welcome back everyone to this class on sitemaps. Sitemaps are a great method for ideating and starting to design your new information architecture. So for creating a new site map, a sitemap is a map that shows the entire navigation of your website as sort of a bird's eye view. It's really going to capture those top-level navigation. We call that primary navigation. And it can also capture secondary and tertiary navigation. So you can actually use a site map to show content that you maybe have decided to put somewhere lower in the navigation on the web site. Maybe it's something that is okay to have maybe two or three clicks to get to. And it's usually shown in a format that kinda looks like an upside down tree. And I'll show you a couple of examples of what sitemaps can look like. And they can be informed by the other two exercises we learned in this course already, the content audit, as well as the card sort. These two exercises are great ways to inform how your site map is going to look what those sort of categories are, those sites sections are going to be called, for example. And how, especially from that card sort, we can figure out how to organize other really important subjects underneath those categories in a way that's intuitive to our end users. So for creating a site map, a lot of the time, if you did do a card sort, this is actually a great starting point for your site map. One good way to do this is to actually use those top-level categories from your card sort to start to ideate or start to formulate the top-level navigation on your site. And then you'll start to create the sub-levels of the pages as you need so as you have more content to organize, and again, maybe you're looking back at your research to figure out what those mental models, how users are actually thinking about all this content URL. You should be able to organize the content as pages underneath each of those sort of top level categories. And going with our sort of Human Resources example, I did kind of create a sitemap based on that card sort example I showed you in the previous video. So imagine we were going to design this sort of new HER website. What would be those top level pages that we would want to have people go to. So these top big rectangles here. First you've got the new HER website. You have about five different items that could potentially go into menu. I mean, you've gotta homepage benefits my profile, career and directives. So underneath, I actually took some of those index cards and I actually, some of them were translated literally. I literally put the same names under each section because again, it seemed, you know, through my research and watching others do this card sort those seemed really familiar to people across the board. So. And, you know, the results of the card sorts for some of these terms were pretty consistent. So I actually used some of those just straight off the bat. And then I knew I would have a homepage. I knew I would have a benefits. And I knew underneath benefits there might be some subcategories. So for example, medical is something that has potentially lots of different categories here I have insurance as well as family medical leave. And then, you know, we've got a sort of Maya profile where ideas where a user could kinda complete tasks. We have that policies and forms there, as well as sort of looking at their time sheet requesting leave, and then, you know, career and training and directives. So directors would be sort of that manager level tasks or stuff that managers would be doing. So based off of the card sort and the results I got from that card sort. I was actually able to organize this in a way that I can sort of No, just, just because I have the research. I know that this would be intuitive for any user who would be coming to this site if the site was structured this way. So more on creating sitemaps, small to medium websites with less than a 100 pages will have what we call flat sitemaps, where you'll see more of these top-level elements, the top-level navigation. So those big rectangles you saw in that previous slide, but not a whole lot of deep navigation or sub-pages. So those websites are not gonna go very deep. You're not going to see, are you really shouldn't see pages that are maybe five or six levels deep on a smaller medium website, it's just too difficult to find information on those websites that are structured that way. A large websites on the other hand, that may have thousands of pages. Those have a bit more freedom to do to go deeper, I should say. And you could have more navigation levels there. And we call that potentially a deep site map. So these are two examples that flat sitemap you see, you know, it's gotten more top-level subjects or more top-level elements. So you could imagine that translating to a menu here with maybe five items. And then each menu item underneath just, you know, each page underneath, there's only a couple pages underneath. So deep sitemap, on the other hand, is something where maybe users will have, will have to dig a little bit to find like very specialized or very niche information. But that's really, again, with the large websites, that's not necessarily a problem so long as that information is organized intuitively. So again, if you present a sitemap to your team or other designers, you really wanna get that input, that feedback on, you know, are these categories intuitive? And, and, you know, again, that could be based off of research like your card sort that you've done or interviews and things like that or your content audit, even. So, those are the two types of sitemaps. Next up or are next. And I believe last class is talking about stakeholders and team members. So we're really going to show you how to communicate your findings among your team members and gain support among your team members. And I can't wait and I'll see you guys there. 8. Stakeholders and Teams: Hi guys and welcome to stakeholders and team. So in this video, we're going to learn to communicate your findings to others and gain support. So really there's kind of a myth versus reality when it comes to communicating with teams and getting people on your side. We like to think that stakeholders and team members will always understand our work as designers and will always appreciate and understand how we arrived at our solution, solutions all the time. That's kind of the myth here. The reality is that if not communicated properly, the best work will fall on deaf ears. So we really need to learn how to communicate our findings and gain support from other team members. And the struggle really with content strategies specifically is that a lot of times designers sometimes think that content, or working with content is out of their scope. They might think that they should really just be focusing on the visuals. And many teams as a whole actually think that designers are really only just there for the user-interface, aka the UI. So just the way things look, the colors, the arrangement of objects, that type of thing. So neither of these bullets are true. Content is as integral to the whole user experience as the visuals. So it's really something that designers should really, all of these videos I've been making for this class are things that designers should really pay attention to. We need to find ways to communicate the significance of content. So how do we do that? So one way we can do that is to actually justify our decisions with research. So some methods I already taught you in this class, content auditing and card sorting are two methods that are really great as research exercises as well as discovery exercises. So content auditing, like we've said before, that helps you uncover the current state of the website and what needs to change. Card sorting is going to help you uncover users mental models and maybe help you understand why they're not understanding certain things on the website. You can also, another way to justify decisions is to be able to show how the content and the current IA is leading to a poor user experience. So some ways that you can do this during research. And I really encourage, In fact, I think all Project, Projects need to start with a good amount of user research. So, you know, that could involve interviewing users or doing walkthroughs with users of websites as they kind of say their reactions to you out loud. We also call it a contextual inquiry. So some red flags that might show up as you're doing research could be poor engagement with certain topics. So some users might not engage very well with certain topics on that website, even though maybe you think those topics are actually really relevant to them. A poor understanding of terminology. There could just be terms or vocabulary used on the website that they don't really understand. Users not knowing where they are on a site or users not knowing what lies behind a certain menu items. So that goes directly back to having a bad information architecture. So if users don't know where they are on the site, if they can't have that spatial reference or users not knowing what lies behind maybe a top-level navigation menu. Those are two really clear red flags or indicators of just up bad IA that's leading to a poor user experience. Enlist subject matter experts. So this is another way that you can really get others on your team kind of sort of to buy into your recommendations. And you, you yourself may not be an expert on the subject matter of the website, but there are people out there who are and they might be in your company. We call them SMEs are subject matter experts. These people can help define for you things like confusing terminology. They can help to clarify things in your user personas. So, you know, you may even want to run by, you run your persona's by these SMEs, as well as your use cases, they can really help to clarify how a user should really be using the site. And they can even, you can even use an SME as a baseline card sort. So if you want that person to do a card sort, that would actually be really a very effective way to gather more background information on the subject you are working with. And SMEs, basically, they help create long-lasting content strategy that is informed by expert knowledge because they are the experts, they will know. Even if it's a very niche field. There's going to be someone out there who's a subject matter expert who can help you clarify some of these terms and help you clarify the way that other users think about the website. Another thing that you wanna think about is thinking about longevity. So a while back, I taught you about governance. Really talking about plans for content after the project is over. Who's going to manage, update, and create content when it's needed. Ways you can do this are to create content and writing guides. And guides are, is basically a user guide or a manual to hand off to someone like a web content specialists. So there are teams of people out there who their job is really to post content to the website in a way that's meaningful. And they're really going to be carrying on those duties and the future of managing, updating, and creating new content when needed. So these guides can be really helpful for those people. And I would really encourage designers to really seek out those web content specialists. Who are they in your team or in your company? And who are those people that are going to be managing this content going forward and work with them to create these governance plans. And that'll really again just help get other team members on board with this idea of all your recommendations for content. Alright, well, those are some methods to socialize your ideas and recommendations. I hope those will help. This last slide is just talking about the class project. So we are done with the class, the class project. Like you may remember at the beginning of this whole class, I had shown this slide before. You're going to take this website, Lexington, or if you have a website of your choosing, this is really just there for you to save some time so you don't have to go and decide on a website. I want you to conduct a content exercise you learn in this class on this website. So it could be an audit, could be that card sort that I was talking about. Recommend better ways in which this content maybe could be better organized. And then as always, share your work in the comment section. So that's the only way that we'll be able to see your work and others will be able to see your work and ask questions and comment and things like that. So yeah, I hope you guys enjoyed this class. I really had a great time making this class, and that's all. And I really look forward to seeing your class projects.