Categories
3 things this week

3 things this week

Image of fidget spinner with post title
  • When colleagues tell you that something is ‘just a quickie’ or ‘it will only take a moment’, they have no idea of what’s involved on your end. I’ve been asked to review 4 pages of a document that came from a ‘just a quickie’, and had to research terminology and best practice out of a ‘quick question’ request. The question or request may be quick but the work off the back of it is rarely so. Plus, if you have a few of these each day, it pulls you out of deep work and comes with a context switching cost.
  • Creating interview tasks is hard. Recruitment is hard. Feels like I should write a post about this.
  • Solution designers don’t always know what they’re asking for. Asking questions can get them to reveal the gaps in their understanding and ultimately lead both of you to a better solution.
Categories
3 things this week

3 things this week

Image of fidget spinner with post title
  1. So glad it’s Friday. Worked last week but at home, and only had to go into the office on Wednesday and Friday, but long commutes home on both of those days has knocked me back. Much sooner do a 3 hour run than sit in the car for 2 hours.
  2. It seems that content design is very much in demand at Sage. Our expertise is getting noticed (no doubt thanks to our fab team manager) and we’re getting asked to work on projects outside our scope. It would be good if the boss could just expand the team but for now it seems that we’re going to stay as we are and knock back any work that doesn’t fall into our explicit remit. This seems the sensible thing to do as we’re going to focus on depth rather than breadth.
  3. Had a good meeting about first time use and how we expose customers to new features. Within the team, we’ve already recognised that our release notes need a revamp both in terms of presentation and how we push them to customers. The designs I saw today look great. Very visual and engaging. I’ve promised to work closely with our UX designer on the wider aspect of promoting new features within the product as the customer stumbles across them, probably using tools already at our disposal like Pendo.
Categories
3 things this week Content Design

3 things this week

Stop press. I’ve got the central heating on.

  1. We’ve been given a couple of hours a week on a Thursday afternoon for professional development. This is just what I need right now. If you’re anything like me, you’ve signed up to more UX newsletters than you have time to read and they’re building up in your inbox. There’s generally plenty of good advice in the articles they link to, and you need time to go and explore.
    This time has given me the chance to catch up on a few emails, and read about five articles. I’ve taken notes on a few things I want to follow up on including the action to look at the possibility of adding more humour to our help content.
  2. Terminology is a hot topic across our Experience Design organisation and I’ve just been given a goal to try to solve this.
    The problem is we’re working so fast on new development of a new platform with many services interconnecting, and we need to agree on some common terms.
    What should be happening is the Content Designers should be taking a lead on this by being included in early kickoff meetings and collating terms into some central repository. This will ensure that everyone in Experience Design is consistent in their language and that will feed through to customers in the final designs.
    What’s actually happening is that the Content Designers haven’t been present at many of the design kick-offs so language is being developed with us to observe or steer. This is already leading to a ‘he who shouts loudest gets heard’ mentality.
    I’m working on this problem with the team’s user researchers to introduce a sensible customer focused approach that will be difficult for anyone to object to.
  3. I attended our company’s Accessibility Guild for the first time yesterday. The driver for this existing is HMRC need us to be AA WCAG compliant for any products that interact with HMRC services. As an Accounting software provider we have a few strategically important solutions that link to HMRC.
    It’s been great to see all the work we’ve been doing to make sure we’re compliant. An accessible website is accessible for anyone.
Categories
3 things this week

3 things this week

Eek, summer’s here. The early mornings are getting me up and about but I’m super tired by the end of the day.

Image of fidget spinner with post title

Here’s 3 things that I thought I’d share.

  • Only two weeks left of the school year and my daughter will be finishing her first year of high school. Holy moly. That has gone so fast. This year at work has gone so fast. We’re beyond half way in 2019 and I don’t feel like I’ve done nearly enough to move the needle. I’ve just revisited some of my goals for the year and there are still two I’ve barely started. At this time, I like to double check and make sure they are still worth doing. In this case they are. And actually, there isn’t too much effort required to make a difference here. One of them requires a chunk of research so I’ve already started it. What I do find difficult is saying to the rest of the team in daily standups that I’m not working on the main project today because I’m working on one of my goals. I need to get over that.
  • I’ve been working on a content design dashboard and the early feedback from the team has been great. It’s been a niggle of mine for a while that we haven’t exactly been coached on transitioning from technical author to content designers and there are a lot of activities we should be doing now. The dashboard is a way to brainstorm ideas and also acts as a reference for key content design documents. I’m going to work on this a little more before sharing it here.
  • Gone back to basics with my bullet journal. A key part I wasn’t doing was daily rapid logging. I’d always just combined my weekly logs with my daily. This always meant I’d run out of room and the daily log became an irritating list of tasks rather than a mixture of tasks, reflection, and notes. I’ve spent a week doing rapid logging the recommended way and this week has been much better. I’m feeling more organised and less irritated if a planned task doesn’t happen on the day I’d originally set. If you’re into bullet journal but maybe you’re getting bogged down in the design of it rather than the functionality of it, take a look at this video.
Categories
3 things this week

3 things this week

I only need reading glasses at the end of the day or when I’m tired. This week has been so draining that I was finding it hard to focus by 2 pm today. Glad it’s Friday and I’ve got a couple of days to take stock.

Here are 3 things I thought I’d share.

Image of fidget spinner with post title
  • Copy docs were helpful this week as another team came on board to help our project. The new team’s UX Designer was happy to make changes to a Marvel prototype to share with development teams. I needed the copy doc to help me keep track of what content I’d suggested. Having new people work with an existing team on a project is stressful for everyone, so remembering to focus on the customer experience was a useful steer for me.
  • Things aren’t always going to go the way you want them. I’ve been in this company for 22 years and have learnt to handle change. On the flip side, we have people on my team who’ve been alive fewer years than I’ve worked here. Jeez, that makes me feel OLD. Part of being a team is knowing when and how to mentor the newbies.
  • Found a new tool called whimsical.com and have used it to mock up some screens to preview how content will look. I normally make cobbled together mockups in PowerPoint using the high fidelity wireframes provided by the UX Designer. A bit of copy and paste can get something looking half-decent. A problem with that method is if I share it with anyone on the team, they might not be sure if this is meant to represent the finished article or not. At least with a wireframe from whimsical, the design is clearly not a screen from the finished product. An example of how this can look is below.
Portfolio image. Mobile phone app with message about missed flight.
Categories
3 things this week

3 things this week

Image of fidget spinner with post title
  • Listened to a really interesting episode of the Reply All podcast. The hosts investigated the problem of a Mazda car stereo shutting down when it played the 99%Invisible podcast. Turns out that the stereo couldn’t cope with the %I in the title. When they spoke about content breaking the stereo I was delighted. Reminded me of the words on the inside of the ship in Before the Flood Doctor Who episode. It was the content there that was a problem.
  • Disappointed with some of the attitudes I’m seeing at the moment in our organisation. It seems that large orgs operate differently to small orgs when problems surface. Whilst I’m happy to get stuck in and do what I can, it irks me that we allow ourselves to get stuck in the same familiar messes. As a company we have a lot of retrospectives, and project post mortems, yet we don’t seem able to really embed those learnings. That feels like a whole blog post.
  • Went to Ikea. I think we’ve cracked how to not have a stressful time at Ikea. Make sure to eat beforehand. It’s very easy to get hangry otherwise whilst lost in the maze. Loved this feedback sign at the exit. It’s asking a very specific question with very obvious answers. We are still using NPS in our company and now that I’ve read a bit more into NPS, it makes me want to scream at whoever continues to facilitate this god-awful measure.
The Ikea queue time feedback machine
Categories
3 things this week

3 things this week

Image of fidget spinner with post title
  • I published my new website robscottnorton.uk. Oh hang on, you’re already here so you don’t need redirecting. I’ve had a website before for my role as a Technical Writer and later as a Content Manager, but now that I’m working full time as a Content Designer and still exploring what that really means, this site seemed a good place to share my ideas and learnings.
  • I’ve started reading Microcopy – The Complete Guide by Kinneret Yifrah. So far, I’m pretty impressed. There are lots of examples, which I love, and it seems to cover a lot of ground. It does surprise me that there really isn’t that much content out there on microcopy. A lot of Medium articles, but not much else. Hopefully, I’ll get round to writing a review.
  • My company encourages us to go out into the world and do charitable work. They give us 5 days a year to volunteer and I’ve used one of my days this week at Sale Water Park weeding. The work was simple, and not as backbreaking as other volunteering days I’ve been on, and I did get the chance to chat with work colleagues I normally only briefly say hello to whilst making a brew. Always nice to volunteer for stuff. Do it when you get the chance.