Testing Versions of Your Content Might Be the Missing Link for a Useful Design.

Jared Spool

September 25th, 2015

Usability in products and websites is what most organizations strive for. Through research and testing, you can root out many issues with clunky interactions that hinder the experience. What isn’t as immediately clear is if some perceived usability issues are actually understandability problems. If your content works, it goes a long way toward improving your entire experience. If it doesn’t, then it’s the culprit.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Steph Hay about content-first, a method she promotes. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

What I actually learned is that they were testing usability and they were adding language where things were breaking down from a usability standpoint to try and help clarify the process. Adding to it wasn’t necessarily making it more understandable. It wasn’t even necessarily making it more usable.

There were a couple projects that had been in usability testing and the teams were saying “I know that there’s something here and we just can’t get at it.” What we ended up doing, taking a content-first mindset, is actually extracting the content from the interface, from the prototype that we were testing, and putting it in a Google Doc or in a Word doc and then going in and testing the language agnostic of the interface.

We would figure out where the ah-ha moments were and we would pay attention to the language that they were using, so that we could really understand what specifically were the compelling words that would make somebody want to move forward.

Listen to the podcast interview.

Steph Hay has conducted numerous workshops that focus on content-first design. In her workshop at UI20, Content-First UX Design: A Lean Approach, you’ll learn how to design conversations that engage and motivate your users, which in turn allow you to design fewer iterations overall.

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