As a communications practitioner
I want to get under the skin of my clients’ business
So I can deliver impactful campaigns
This week I had the great pleasure of attending the Content Design Essentials workshop organised by Cultivator (Creative Kernow) and delivered by Sarah Richards. Sarah founded and runs Content Design London, but beyond that, is spearheading somewhat of a revolution in how businesses and organisations approach content.
During a 10-year tenure with the UK government, Sarah created and implemented the content strategy for the GOV.UK website before writing the respected book Content Design and launching her consultancy to provide training and counsel on content strategy and design to governments, charities and organisations worldwide. I have heard so much about her work that I couldn’t wait to learn more.
The session did not disappoint. Sarah gave us a whistle-stop tour of her celebrated approach to content design, cramming what is normally a two-day workshop into just three hours, with flair I might add! We covered business needs vs user needs, push-pull publishing and even delved into the inner workings of our brains and how we receive, interpret and act on information.
Armed with this theory, we set about turning it into practice – coming together as teams to tackle mapping a user journey for a fictitious scenario around fracking. Sarah pointed out that much of the work in content design is in the discovery process up front – thinking about the users’ mental model – their thought-processes, beliefs and pre-conceptions. In an example pertinent to our times, why do people consistently vote the same way – even if they don’t like what the politicians are doing? It’s because once those neural pathways are created it is very difficult to break them.
We stepped into the shoes of the user – exploring their thought-processes, the channels they would go to, the language they would use and their emotions – landing on a series of pain points from which we could build user stories like the one I’ve started this post with.
Sarah left us with the summarising thought that content design starts with users, is problem solving and collaborative. What struck me the most is that at Mantis we very much mirror the kind of approach Sarah advocates – usually kicking off with a Discovery Exercise to really get under the skin of their business and understand where we need to focus in our communications campaign. We also always put the clients’ customer at the centre of everything we do, to make sure we are addressing their needs in order to get results.
A jam-packed three hours has left me thoroughly inspired and excited to further apply what I’ve learned to our work.