Design & Content Strategy
I've been a practitioner of design thinking, branding, content strategy, and user experience (UX) design for over 17 years. I love the way that these disciplines interact to create great end-to-end digital experiences and how they tap into my passions for technology and design.
“Design is not art. It is about crafting solutions to real issues.”
— Mark Boulton, Designer, Blogger
Design thinking is a proven and repeatable process to solve problems following 5 steps: 1) empathize, 2) define, 3) ideate, 4) prototype, and 5) test (and iterate as many time as possible, of course).
Anyone can do it—not just designers or artists and it can help solve tough or elusive problems, even the "problem" of designing a better life (called life design).
It teaches you to you to empathize with your client, customer, or audience; to believe in your creative power; and to be unafraid of failure.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
— Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder
Great brands are authentic, empowering, and allow you to meet your goals, business or personal. Whether you're branding a product, company, or yourself, it's important to remember some basic branding truths. A brand is:
- so much more than just your logo or slogan
- the way people feel about you, your product, or your company
- an identity that differentiates you from the competition and shows value to your customers
- something that others create for you—with or without your input, because, as Marc Ecko once said, "Your too are a brand. Whether you know it or not. Whether you like it or not."
“Content is like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.”
— Josh Clark, Writer
Content is King! People are visiting your site, or using your app, to consume content of some sort. Hence, content needs to be considered before any design is done and should drive all other decisions (imagery, colors, typography—they all come after content).
Every piece of content needs to align with your brand, your goals, and what your audience is wanting or needing from you. If your brand is fun and whimsical and your audience is young, tech-savvy, and likely viewing your content on a mobile device, the tone needs to be personable and the length needs to be fairly short. If your brand is more serious and you are publishing educational content, the tone needs to be more authoritative and the length can be longer.
And, make sure you’re proofreading—mistakes add up and erode trust in you and your product.
User Experience (UX) Design
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou, Poet, Civil Rights Activist
UX design is a broad term to describe a group of discipline involved in creating usable digital experiences. It can involve content strategy, information architecture, visual design, SEO, accessibility, devlepment, user research, and many other disciplines.
The core of UX design is a mindset of consciously creating an end-to-end experience that is helpful and valuable to your audience or “users.” Every decision must center on how you are making your users feel, what they think about you, and what value you are offering them
Done correctly, UX helps ensure that people using your site or app get what they want out of it (communicates clearly), feel great about you or your product (reinforces your brand), and are more likely to take an action, whether that means buying, subscribing, or contacting you (meets your goals).