Hire Product People Who Already Understand Content

Published

This article originally appeared in Issue 050 of UX Writing Events.

For some reason (tequila, mostly) I vented a bit of frustration yesterday afternoon with the way content work is often viewed in product landThis tweet seemed to resonate the most with folks:

Imagine how much productivity you could unlock by hiring product leadership who already understand the value of content and research instead of making all of your content and research people constantly self-advocate.

Which, while not threaded, was related to this thought:

The way most companies approach product design is ass-backwards and upside-down. I’m so tired of “advocating” for content. Everything you’re designing is for content. Imagine designing the box without knowing what is supposed to go inside. It’s absolutely stupid on its face.

The thing that’s harder to get across in pithy, agave-fueled tweets is the full scope and nuance of what I mean by content. Writing the text for a button could be considered “content work”, sure, but it’s primarily a design choice. That design choice, like any other, should derive from an understanding of nature and purpose of the button within the context of the larger design, within the context of a larger journey, informed by an understanding of actual user needs and preferences. AND – and this is the important, often-missing thing when we don’t appropriately value content – informed by an understanding of BUSINESS needs and preferences and the context of your larger information space.

Product folks are obsessed with journeys, which is great, because designing with journeys is mind is much better than designing a chaotic series of unrelated moments. But what about the world those journeys take place in? Who is intentionally concerned with the design and stewardship of that world?

To me, that work is content work.

Content work is meaning, and message, and story, and intention, and clarity. And yes, sometimes, writing text on buttons.