Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Turn Usable Content into Winning Content

Focusing on persuasive content ...

"Findable. Scannable. Readable. Concise. Layered. We know much these days about how to make Web content usable—thanks to experts such as Robert Horn, Jakob Nielsen, Ginny Redish, and Gerry McGovern. What we don’t understand as well, however, is how to make content win users over to take the actions we want them to take or have the perceptions we want them to have. We don’t understand how to make Web content both usable and persuasive. I, by no means, intend to imply that we should sacrifice the usability of content to make it more persuasive. Truly winning content must be both.

Gerry McGovern’s work perhaps delves deepest into the realm of persuasive content, emphasizing a customer-centric approach and the removal of filler content. However, I think we can do even more to win users over through content. I also remain unconvinced that the extreme minimalism McGovern supports is always appropriate. For instance, the “brutal” concision McGovern espouses in his recent article, “Killer Web Content Examples,” while usually appropriate for headlines, titles, or labels, risks creating the wrong tone in other types of content. As a starting point in the journey toward turning usable content into winning content, this article offers key resources that illuminate the creation of usable content and some tips for creating persuasive content I’ve garnered from my own experience.
The Givens

As a quick refresher, here are some of the tried-and-true essentials for making content usable.
Understand Your Users

As UX professionals, we understand deeply the importance of considering our users. We need to keep users in mind as we approach content. We must anticipate and answer their questions and concerns. Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words provides helpful, well-explained techniques for doing just that. The Nielsen Norman Group also offers articles and reports describing how users read online.
Follow Content Usability Best Practices

Redish, Horn, and Nielsen offer some of the now well-known best practices in creating usable content. Along with Redish’s above-mentioned book, Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think is a useful reference for content layout best practices. The structured writing techniques Robert Horn offers through the training and consulting company Information Mapping have largely stood the test of time.

Focus on Relevant Content

All experts recognize the importance of giving users the content they need and want. McGovern’s Killer Web Content discusses at length the value of removing irrelevant or filler content to enhance the impact of relevant content.

Winning Considerations

To make content persuasive, we need to go further and consider brand, emotional and rational appeals, and more. The common thread through all of these considerations is context. When it comes to persuasion, context is king."    (Continued via UXmatters)    [Usability Resources]

Schwab emphasizing the customer relationship as a differentiator. - Usability, User Interface Design

Schwab emphasizing the customer relationship as a differentiator.


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