Last time I brought you a collaborative blog post, it was with Aly and Jason, Content Strategist and Front-End Architect at Reusser Design. Today we’ve got Aly sharing her perspective on integrating content strategy with user experience design, along with our UX designer, Javon, giving his feedback as well. Check out how the two of them work together on projects and get a glimpse into our collaborative work environment.
Content strategy and user experience (UX) sound interchangeable. Does it matter which comes first?
Javon: “Content should always come first. When someone is viewing a website or an app the main purpose is to deliver valuable content to an audience. We should always be designing content-first.”
Aly: “Javon’s right. It goes back to what Jason and I talked about in How Content Strategy and Development Work Together—the whole blueprint analogy. Content strategy, UX, and design together make the final blueprint, so we have to go a little deeper than that this time. Content strategy lays out the materials and basic layout for the “house” so UX can take over in the next stage. Would you start planning before you know what materials you have access to and the basics on where things should go? Probably not. We don’t like doing that either.”
If that’s the case, what is required from content strategy before the UX process can start?
Javon: “There are an infinite number of answers to this depending on the project. At the very least, there should be a sitemap (or website hierarchy), content priority on the website, identification of needed pages/templates, and a content model (if you are designing for a content management system).”
Aly: “Every project’s different in some way, but the items Javon mentioned are certainly the staples. In having access to a sitemap and content model, content priorities are outlined and now the UX and design can function to highlight the most notable aspects of a website. Design is so important because the look of your site can win or lose users (or potential clients) within seconds based on their first impression. Content strategy and UX help fortify the design to make it “more than just a pretty face,” so to speak.”
So Javon, once you have what you need from Aly, how do you take the products from content strategy and turn them into a UX plan?
Javon: “During the content model phase, I determine the full functionality of a page/template and ensure I understand what is needed functionality-wise. The content model is the perfect guide for anyone who has designing questions.”
After Aly’s job is over, is there any collaboration during the UX phase?
Javon: “In short, there is collaboration throughout the entire project until it’s launched. Every step of the way, collaboration exists in order for us to visually present the best design.”
Aly: “Projects always go better when we’re working together, so that’s what we like to do. Whether it’s in small or significant ways depends on the project, we always keep the line of communication open and touch base often so we stay on the same page.”
Since you collaborate throughout, can these two stages be done at the same time?
Javon: “There is nothing wrong with both the designer and content strategist getting started on their respective tasks early, as this will help both parties know what direction he/she is envisioning. However, as you’re both working together, do not proceed on any steps until you both have made final decisions.”
Aly: “Definitely. One of the easiest ways to create problems for yourself is to silo your work and cut off communication, or to just completely disregard your teammate’s thoughts and process. It creates stress within a team and it’ll create obstacles in the project that didn’t need to be there in the first place.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
Javon: “UX does not exist without content strategy and this is not up for debate.”
This is just another testament to how important collaboration and teamwork is when it comes to building great products for our clients. Content strategy is essential to a great user experience as well as modern web development as we learned before. This wasn’t Aly’s first time in the hot seat—be sure to check out how she collaborates with our developers on projects as well.