Padma bespreekt strategieën waarmee je je baas kunt overtuigen om over te stappen op content design. Hij behandelt verschillende tactieken, zoals:
Padma put daarbij uit zijn ervaring als contentontwerper en consultant. Hij werkt met organisaties van over de hele wereld en kan daarom voorbeelden en benaderingen delen die werken in de echte wereld.
Je krijgt bruikbare inzichten die je kunt toepassen in je eigen organisatie. Daarmee kun je de waarde van content design demonstreren en de betrokkenheid van managers veiligstellen. Zo werk je toe naar een situatie waarin je hoogwaardige, inclusieve content kunt creëren die voldoet aan de behoeften van gebruikers.
Deze sessie is ideaal voor content designers, webredacteuren, teamleiders en iedereen die de content van zijn organisatie echt wil verbeteren. De sessie is in het Engels.
Onder leiding van Padma begeleidde Llibertat het ontwerp, de planning en oplevering van OneWeb. Dat is het digitale transformatieprogramma van de Universiteit van Southampton dat miljoenen ponden kostte. In 2019 wonnen Llibertat en de University of Southampton de ContentEd-prijs voor uitmuntendheid in contentstrategie. In 2021 hielpen ze de universiteit 3 van de 6 ContentEd-prijzen te winnen, voor gebruikersgerichtheid, samenwerking en opnieuw voor excellentie in contentstrategie.
Voorheen was Padma Head of Content Design bij de Government Digital Service (GDS). Daar had hij de algehele verantwoordelijkheid voor de kwaliteit van de content op GOV.UK, de bekroonde website van de Britse overheid.
[Renata] The next speaker I'd like to introduce is Padma Gillen. Padma, the floor is yours.
[Padma] Thank you.
[Renata] You are the author of the book Lead with Content. You are going to tell us how we all can be a little of a salesperson for content strategy. We're very curious about your story.
[Padma] Thank you. How long have I got, Renata? You have got until 11:00.
[Renata] Until 11:00.
[Renata] With the questions.
My name is Padma.
We are looking at a picture of my dog. My dog is a German shepherd and she is a metaphor, which I'm going to explain later. I'm going to be talking about how do you sell content design to your boss? It doesn't necessarily have to be your boss. It could be your boss's boss's boss. It could be other people in the organisation. We'll find out why this is important.
Who am I? My name is Padma. I am the CEO of a company called Llibertat. We are a content-first digital agency. We do content design, content strategy, content operations. But that almost always builds into management consulting as we realise that the problems in the content are not really content problems, they're organisational problems.
We do quite a lot of that. We do it in government, we do it in higher education, and we do it in the charity sector also.
Before I was doing this, I was the Head of Content Design for the Government Digital Service in the UK. That's responsible for GOV.uk. For that period, I had overall responsibility for the content strategy of the UK government. Working with large, complex organisations is something that I'm quite familiar with.
I'm author of Lead with Content, which is the sum total of everything that I'd learned in this scene until a few years ago. It's what this talk is about, which is around, okay, there are lots of good content people in the world, why are there so many sucky websites? One of our main clients is the University of Southampton.
There's a couple of pictures on this slide. One of them is me talking, which is similar to what you're looking at now. The other one is us winning an award at the ContentEd conference, which we've helped the University of Southampton win in 2019, 2021, 2022. In terms of this whole content-first, user needs-based approach, certain sectors are quite open to that and see some value in it.
What am I going to talk about today? Three things. What is content design? Some of you will know, some of you may not be so familiar. Why should your boss care? And how do you get to yes?
If you're trying to create accessible, usable, findable, good quality content that works for end-users, and that's not happening in your organisation, how do you change that? Firstly, why should you care about this? Well, in my experience, we work with a lot of clients in different countries, and quite often, I find content people, content teams, web teams in a frustrated state, low morale.
They're passionate about what they do, they really care about users, they want to do accessible content, they want to do inclusive content. The organisation quite often just says, "Hit publish. That's your job. Hit publish." After a few years of battling, they're like, "Okay," and wait for retirement.
Why is this? Why does this happen? I said my dog is a metaphor. My dog is a metaphor for content design. I got my dog, she was that tiny little puppy, very cute. Now she's a 40-kilo German shepherd. To me, she's still super cute, loyal, enriches my life. She's a good user experience.
Not everybody sees it like that. Often people see big German shepherds looking at them as a risk, a threat, or even a danger. Content design is the same thing.
If you're working this world of digital content and you try and create some accessible content that works for users, it's in plain language, and you do your draft and you'll send it off to the person whose source material you used to create this draft, and they'd say, "What is this? We can't do this. My work is complicated. It shouldn't be easy to understand. What I do is very difficult. You need to be a specialist to understand this. We can't have it like that."
They put big red lines through all your beautiful accessible content and send it back pretty much as it was before. How are we going to change this? Because as Lisa said, we're not the coolest people in the organisation quite often. Quite often, we don't have the power.
If you don't have the power and the person who says, "My work is very complicated," is the one that has the power, what do you do? We're talking about change. We're talking about change in an organisation. How do you make change from the position that you're in? That's what this talk is about. To get different results, we're going to have to do things differently. How do we do things differently? Rollback.
What is content design? This isn't a talk about content design. I'm just going to really quickly go through it so that we can get to the how do we get to the yes business.
This is a quote from Sarah Winters, my old boss and friend. She wrote the book Content Design. Content design is answering a user needs in the best way for the user to consume it. It's all about meeting the needs of users, basically. What does that mean? Good content is accessible, usable, and findable.
We're about meeting user needs, so how do you actually meet a user needs? A user has this thing that they want to know or they want to do. They go to their favourite search engine, perhaps Google, and they type something into Google and they ask for the answer. They've got this need and they want to meet it.
Firstly, your content has to be findable. If the user can't find it, they can't use it. They need to realise really quickly that it is for them, so it needs to use their language. In order to find it, it's got to use their language. For them to realise it's for them, that it might meet their needs, it's got to be in their language. It's got to be structured and thought about in a way that matches their mental model, not the organisation's mental model.
That is the heart of the problem a lot, where you've got somebody who's been doing a thing for 20, 30 years, and for them, they're talking in plain language. But for the user, it makes no sense whatsoever. They need to be able to understand it quickly and they need to know what the next step is for them and how to take it. It may be that one piece of content will meet their need and that's that, or it may be that that is part of a journey and you need to think about that journey and help them take the next step.
How do we do this? We look at the psychology of user experience, we look into research on how people read, we look at analytics data, we look at user research insights, and we pool all this together and we create this beautiful designed content that works for users.
Then beyond that, we start looking at user journeys. How do these user needs fit together into journeys? We look at how do you structure entire websites based on user needs rather than the way that the organisation is structured? We look at content design patterns so that users get an intuitive experience so you don't have to think.
You can just make sense of content and so on and so on. We love this stuff. It gets us out of bed in the morning. It makes us happy. We have conferences about it. We love it. We totally geek out to it. But why should your boss care? That's not their thing.
The next section of this talk, why should your boss care about content design? You have to think from their perspective. They've got user needs and you have to try and meet their user needs. If you want to make a change in an organisation, you have to think about the organisation and what does it care about and how do you talk in their language to meet their needs.
Let's assume your boss is a human. As a human, they probably want to avoid pain and they probably want to maximize pleasure. How does content design fit into that? They're going to have personal goals at work and they're going to have goals relating to their responsibilities in their job.
You've got to work out where does content design or accessible content or user-centred content or whatever language you want to use, where does that fit into their goals? How does it help them achieve their goals? What might their goals be? Firstly, they probably want to keep their job.
They might want to avoid looking like a fool, most people do. Maybe they want to do the best job they can. They may want to learn and grow. Quite possibly, they would like to get promoted, make more money, have a better profile, nicer office, bigger car, whatever. They're the personal goals.
You got to work out what's most important to them with regard to that and how does doing content better fit in with that for them. But then there's goals related to the organisation, related to their job. They probably want to minimise financial risk, minimise reputational risk, reduce costs, improve quality, increase profits, customers or users, increase impact.
Somewhere in there is usually the burning need that an organisation has that will get us involved in a project. One of these things will be top at the moment. It becomes urgent and then they'll put some money behind it and they'll get us involved. You got to work out what's most important.
In government, quite often, reputational risk is the biggie. Reducing costs is also often quite important. In the private sector, increasing profits, customers or users. In the higher education sector, getting more student applications or getting better quality student applications or attracting the right academics or whatever. Then in the charity sector, quite often it's about increasing impact.
We've got this cause that we're passionate about, this is the reason we exist. We're doing quite a lot of work around getting to net zero, climate change, biodiversity. How do we make the biggest impact in the fastest amount of time possible? That's what organisations are thinking about who are focused on that stuff. It's like, this is the time. It's an urgent need.
How do we make that impact? How do we increase that impact? Where does content design fit into all that? It can be useful to look at your organisation's vision, mission, and strategy, like digital strategy, because that will articulate what these values are, what these goals are, and help you to build in your pitch for change into a language that makes sense to the organisation. Because that's what we're trying to do. It's the same as content design itself.
It's like, what are the user needs? What's the mental model of the person you're talking to? How do you structure what it is that you're trying to say so that it makes sense to them? How do you show the value of content design? That's going to be the rest of my talk.
How do you show the value of content design? Tactics for getting to yes. Firstly, you have to realise every job is a sales job. This is the front of a book by somebody that I can't remember. It's a book that I haven't read, but I'm pretty sure this is the gist of it.
Quite often in our jobs, we don't think of ourselves as salespeople. We didn't get into accessibility, or we didn't get into content, or we didn't get into whatever we got into because we wanted to go sell to people.
Yeah, well done.
I'm sure it's very good.
We didn't get into it for that, but actually, if we want to change things, we are in sales, whether we like it or not. We're trying to sell ideas to people. We're trying to sell change to people. The first thing when we're talking about selling is we focus on the benefits, not the features.
Like I said earlier, we love geeking out about content, about accessibility, about whatever, and we can go into a great amount of detail about how it works and why it works and so on. But the person that you're talking to probably doesn't care about that stuff. What's the benefit to them? It goes back to what are their goals.
This is an image of one of the old iPods, and their pitch, their advert was, "iPod, a thousand songs in your pocket." It wasn't about all the details about how the thing works. Although they did use that as secondary sales pitch because obviously a lot of people like to geek out to the number of gigabytes they have in their pocket and all that stuff.
But the main thing was what does this actually do for you? A thousand songs in your pocket. You've also got to work out where is your boss at on their journey from don't care, not interested, to content design champion.
I've walked with a number of people along this journey, and it's amazing when they get it. It's amazing when they say, "Yes, accessibility needs to be at the heart, at the beginning of our thinking about this stuff. Yes, focusing on user needs is how we should organise everything."
Being inclusive, building product services, websites that include all users is how we do it. That is the way to make great stuff and that is the way to get great results for our organisation. We meet our organisation's goals by meeting users' goals. But there's a long journey to get there. It can be a fast journey, but it's a long journey. You got to work out where this person is at.
Is it no idea, not interested, wants to know more, understands the benefits but is still hesitant, ready to try and experiment, content design champion, an advocate for what it is that you're trying to get them to do? The understands benefits but hesitant, is where quite a lot of potential clients are when we get involved.
They want to know more. They say, "Oh, yeah, come and have a chat with us. Oh, yeah, we'd like a proposal. Oh, yeah, that all makes sense. Right, yeah, we'll have a think about it."
It's like when you're going to buy a new car or whatever, it's like, you do all the research online, you find this car, it's perfect for you. You go to the showroom, it's awesome. You take it for a test drive. It's amazing. You've got the money in your pocket. Time to make a decision. Yeah, I'm just going to think about it for a bit. It's this human thing to just wait for no particular reason. Just wait. Don't make the change.
How do we help them make that change? At that point, it's, why don't we just try and experiment? You don't start with a no idea, no interested point. You don't say, "Hey, let's do digital transformation across the whole organisation."
When somebody understands the benefits but hesitant, again, it's not like, "Let's roll out this multimillion thing for the whole organisation." It's, "Let's try and experiment." You've got to make it easy for them to take the next step. You've got to have an offer that appeals to that next step in the person's journey. Use evidence to tell the story.
This is a slide with lots of graphs and funky numbers and things like that on it that is basically communicating that there's lots of data around. There's data everywhere and we can pool that together and we can use that to make our story. One of my old colleagues, I was just thinking about during Lisa's talk, she said every multidisciplinary team should have an ethicist as part of it. I thought, "Oh, yeah, that'd be a nice idea." I've never seen an ethicist in a multidisciplinary team, but it's a nice idea.
But yeah, one of her quotes that I liked was, "Without data, you're just another dude with an opinion." I think that's where we're at. You want to break it out from the personal opinion and move it into, "Here's the evidence. This is why it's a good idea. This is how much it's going to cost, this is how much it's going to save," just make it objective.
Getting data isn't usually the problem. I'm going to give you some data in the next slides, but it's using it to tell a story. People don't want to see a really complicated spreadsheet even if you've got the really complicated spreadsheet that you spent hours and hours on to get to the data to tell the story.
They don't want to see all your work. They want to know what's the story, and they want the smallest amount of data that makes sense of the story for them. Be very clear about the risk of doing nothing.
That whole hesitancy thing is like, "Well, things are all right now, so why don't we just do nothing?" Quite often, especially with senior leadership, they don't get that there's a problem. It's like, "Well, we've got a website. Seems fine."
The fact that it's wasting hundreds of thousands of euros a year and that people are phoning all the helplines and people are missing out on things that they should be able to get access to and et cetera, they don't really see that. You have to make it visible.
This is a slide with a picture of... I think it's Niagara Falls. It's a waterfall anyway. This is one of my favourites.
I talk quite often about that an organisation is inevitably heading in a certain direction, and if you don't change, you're going to get a bad result. Finding the way to tell that story using data is one of the fastest ways to make somebody put their money down.
Because that whole thing about minimising financial risk, minimising reputational risk, minimising risk is a biggie, especially for senior leaders. People don't want to be the person responsible for the thing turning upside down. If you can show the way it's about to turn upside down, that's a way to get them to change their behaviour.
Again, earlier in my talk, I was talking about maximising pleasure and minimizing pain. You have to make it clear that there is less pain in change than the pain of staying where you are. Because at the moment, it doesn't feel like pain. Even if there is pain, you're probably not that conscious of it.
You've got to make yourself conscious, make them conscious of the pain that is currently present in the situation and how it can be better. Show why it won't cost anything.
This is a slide with some elements of a spreadsheet that we've developed that allows you to answer four quick questions and you get a sense of how much a content project should cost and how quickly it will give you a return on investment. It's showing the four questions.
If you had to give the content of your website a mark out of 10 today from the users' perspective, what would you give it? How many people across the organisation can currently publish content on your website? What's the average salary of someone who has publishing rights? What percentage of their time would you say that they currently spend on web content? Because quite often, you've got...
I want to talk really quickly about digital maturity in organisations. Digital maturity starts out late '90s, early 2000s. You got somebody called Dave who's into the web. They say, "Hey, our organisation should have a website."
The organisation doesn't really care, but Dave seems enthusiastic, so they've put him in a cupboard somewhere and he makes this website. That's the organisation's website. Time passes, the web becomes a thing. "We really want to have a website. Let's get Dave a couple of friends." There's three of them in the cupboard.
Then it's like, "This web thing is massive. It's going to be really expensive. We don't know anybody who knows how to do that." Then somebody comes in and sells them a content management system. It's like, "Okay, well, we just have this content management system, and then we let everybody publish on the website, and they all publish their bits. Then we have a website and it doesn't cost anything. Amazing."
Then you've got a website that's structured exactly like the organisation. Makes no sense to users, nobody's managing it. It builds and builds and builds. It gets more and more like spaghetti. Eventually, you have to get a new one, and so they buy a new content management system and start again.
But the bottom line is you've probably got 500 people who are publishing on the website. None of them are specialists in digital content. They maybe spend 5%, 10% of their time doing things very badly to create a very bad result. That's got a cost associated to it. This allows you to actually put a number on that. Then you can say, Okay, if you've got...
Your website is 4 out of 10 for quality at the moment. You've got 100 people who can publish on the website at the moment. Their average salary is, say, €30.000 a year. Don't know what it would be. They spend 10% of their time doing website stuff because they're not a website person, they just do that as well. You're talking quite a lot of money there.
You're currently spending €300.000 a year and you're getting 40% effectiveness. If you were to invest €750.000 and that increased the effectiveness, it got twice as good, you reduce the number of people, you just got a small number of specialists doing this work, and that saved you £150000 a year, in five years, it's a free project. You've got a really good result, it doesn't cost you anything, and from that point on, you're saving £150.000 a year.
In my experience, that makes sense to bosses. They start to get quite excited and they say, "Oh, yeah, okay, well, let's do a little experiment." That's how we do. My email address is there, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can give you this spreadsheet, so do get in touch if you would like a copy of that. That's about the money. The money is always the biggie. The money is the thing that bosses and senior leaders care about. If you're writing a business case, the money is a big, important part of it.
If you've got ways of quantifying what it is that you're trying to do in money terms, and as content people, we don't think about that so much generally. That's why I created this spreadsheet just as a way of very quickly showing how things could be different. Show the competitive advantage.
As well as financial risk, we've also got reputational risk and we've also got opportunity. This slide is showing a technology take-up arc. It's got a few sections in it with the innovators on the left-hand side, they're very small in number.
Then you've got visionaries, the early adopters, which is a slightly bigger number. Then you've got the pragmatists and they're part of the early majority. Then you've got the conservatives who are the late majority, and that's by far the biggest amount of people we're talking about. Then at the end, we've got the laggards, the sceptics. That creates an arc.
When you're trying to get people to take-up something new, this is generally how it goes. In between the early adopters and the pragmatists, there is a chasm. There's another book called Crossing the Chasm. I'm sure Lisa will Google it for me and tell me who wrote it. Crossing the Chasm, it's called, and that's all about it.
This is another book that I haven't read. But the idea is that- Jeffrey Moore. Jeffrey Moore, yeah, thank you. There'll be a blog post about it. You don't have to read the whole book.
The idea is that lots of very good products and services fail because they fail to attract the early majority. They get into the early adopter stage, so they've got good organic growth. People are interested who are in a certain niche.
It's a good product, it meets needs, right price, everything's good. But for some reason, it just never hits that mainstream market. I think this is where we're at with content design at the moment. Again, as Lisa was talking about, we're early. In the progress of digital, we're quite early. I think we are in this chasm. In terms of content design specifically, we're in this chasm and we may make it across or we may not.
How long have I got? Certainly, governments around the world are taking it on, taking it seriously. There are other organisations, significant organisations, that are taking it on, taking it seriously. But there are significant factions within those agencies and those organisations that are resistant to it. And who knows whether it will persevere or not.
It's a good idea. It makes sense. It works for users. It should be a no-brainer, but we will see. But from a sales pitch perspective, you can say, "Well, actually, it's looking like we're about to hit the early majority." If you get in now, you have a competitive advantage. The University of Southampton is winning awards because they took that step.
Another thing you can do to try and get to yes is gather...
Again, it comes down to data.
Gather testimonials, gather other credibility indicators to make it easy for a decision-maker to say yes.
Here are a couple of things that you can use. This is from Tim O'Reilly, who runs O'Reilly Publishing. He's talking about the GDS design principles, so the whole user needs-based approach. The UK started it. The US took it on. Australia is taking it on. New Zealand, Israel, Mexico, whole bunch of countries have taken on this approach because it works. It saves a lot of money, it does a better job for users, et cetera.
This is a recent quote that we got from a client after we'd taken them through the whole content design thing. You don't have to read it all, but basically, they've redeveloped the way they approach content design and communications. This is enabling more collaboration between staff and it's making our lives easier and our content more impactful.
It works for the organisation, it works for the users, it saves money, it makes teams happy, it's a good thing. Here are some numbers that might excite your bosses. Gov.uk saved £45 million in 2012 compared with...
That was including building and launching a new website compared with just maintaining what was there before. That's £45 million in year one. £60 million in 2015. I'm sure between 2012 and 2015 there were savings as well, but these are just the stats that I could find.
It won the British Design of the Year Award in 2013. That is the design of the GOv.uk website, won the British Design of the Year Award, which is astounding because it was up against buildings and tables and sneakers and every design you can think about, it won.
It also won the D&Ad Black Pencil Award in 2013, and that was an award we won for the writing element of the website. The Black Pencil is a big deal. You win it not just for winning the category, but for moving the discipline forwards.
Content design was recognised by the industry as a pretty big deal, and that was 10 years ago. Content design still feels like a new thing for a lot of people, but that was 10 years ago. Yeah, it's a good thing. Improves reputation, increases impact, saves heaps of money. Couple more examples.
This is a project we did a few years ago at DEFRA, which is a government department in the UK. We took a user needs-based approach and that allowed us to cut the quantity of content, the quantity of specialist content around environment, food, and farming, basically by 80%. That's four out of five web pages the organisation no longer has to maintain, which is a massive financial saving.
It also makes it easier to stay on top of, and for the users, it makes it a hell of a lot easier to find out what's going on. University of Southampton, another one of my clients, we cut the content by more than 80% there, reduced the number of websites from over 2.000 to 1, and won a whole bunch of awards.
This is a thing that works and there's evidence out there outside of your organisation to show that it works and it saves a pile of money and it's good. Everybody's happy.
This is my last slide. This is an image of networking. This is people talking to each other and connecting with each other. This is my final suggestion. Make lots of friends. You can't do it on your own. You can't just sell it to your boss. You have to sell it broadly. What happens when you sell it to your boss is your boss goes, "Oh, great," and then they leave and then the next person comes along and they don't care and you have to start all over again.
You want a broad base of support, drink lots of coffee with lots of people and make friends and just talk about all the stuff I've been talking about today and change the tide in your organisation so that when the proposal finally gets to the board, they go, "Oh, yeah, content design. Yeah, we've heard that in four different places." It just becomes this obvious next step.
That was me. Thank you very much indeed.