Writing ain’t religion

Choose a writing method that works for your team, content, and audience.

Writing ain’t religion, friends. It’s okay to attend more than one church. 

Let’s take content design, for instance. Content design is generally my top choice when:

A) writing content that has to support as broad of an audience as possible, and/or
B) making content that tends toward complexity easier to understand for the people who need to understand it.

It’s a great approach for government and public-interest websites, technical support content, medical information, forms, policies and procedures, and similar. In some industries, like finance and healthcare, I’m comfortable saying it’s a solid approach for the majority of that organization’s website content.

But that doesn’t mean that content design is the best way to write everything. The very idea of identifying and centering on user needs doesn’t even make sense in some contexts. There are things I do when embedded as a UX writer on a UX design team that would make content design purists wince, and things I do when writing for my own projects in my own voice that would confound nearly anyone — especially English teachers. 

In my trainings, I try to remind folks that there are many ways to get the writing work done:

  • Content design.
  • UX writing.
  • Smart Brevity® (that’s a sarcastic ® , BTW).
  • Conversion copywriting.
  • Ogilvy-school ad writing.
  • Hollywood-style writer’s rooms.
  • Live improvisation and extemporaneous speaking.
  • The art of the letter.
  • Wing it and fling it! (How I wrote all my papers in college.) 
  • Pair writing (with or without the other trappings of content design). 

Even this ancient art I studied one time called, what was it…Kernalism? Bournalism? Something like that. 

You get the idea. No one has cracked the end-all be-all way to write everything. Different approaches work better or worse in different environments, depending on the makeup of the team, nature of the content, the goals of the organization, and the relationship of the content and audience.

At an operational level, your organization should explore and investigate a variety of approaches and help guide your teams toward choosing what works best for them. All I care about is that teams be aware and intentional about how they get the writing done. Do that, and you’ll be miles ahead of most everyone else, regardless of which method you use.

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