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2 ways to boost UX through content usability analysis

2 ways to boost UX through content usability analysis

2 ways to boost UX through content usability analysis

2 ways to boost UX through content usability analysis

Lizzie Bruce

Freelance Content Consultant

Regular, comprehensive checks of your product and brand content, could make all the difference to uptake, repeat customers – and brand reputation. If the user experience of your product content is inconsistent, that’s not just bad for your customer. It’s bad for your brand, and your business, too.

Spot check web content reviews and 360º brand content analysis are 2 ways to focus in on and boost your content usability. The benefits include:

  • Identifying priority content usability improvements to ripple across your site.
  • Discovering content inconsistencies within a solo channel and across multiple channels – is the old logo still being used anywhere? Does tone of voice change from online to offline, or from pre-sale to post-sale?
  • Proactive, rather than reactive, content maintenance planning.

It may feel like you’re drowning in business as usual, but trust me: stepping back and taking an analytical look at your content will save you time overall. It can also be a swift way to increase conversions, and customer satisfaction.

Spot check web content review

You may never have done one of these before: most companies tend only to get informed content usability insights when a new hire joins.

Looking objectively at content highly familiar to you can be hard, so consider outsourcing to a content expert, who should be able to carry this out in a few days. Or assign the work to a new starter on the content team, if they have the right skills.

Planning the review

Ask your reviewer to cover a discrete area, or pick out a variety of content types from across your site for them to scrutinise. For example: news item, transaction flow screen, static informational page, online form, error message, cookie notice.

What a web content usability review should highlight

  • clear language opportunities: plain English, no jargon, simple sentences
  • potentially confusing content: sometimes meaning is obvious to internal staff, but might not be externally – applies particularly to product branding, content categorisation, acronyms and initialisms
  • navigation issues: going round in circles, or irrelevant Search results
  • content accessibility improvements, to meet WCAG 2.1 standards
  • readability improvements, to meet Readability Guidelines
  • editorial style inconsistencies
  • opportunities to increase diversity and inclusion in text and images
  • opportunities to alter tone of voice for appropriacy, dialling elements up and down
  • opportunities for using content patterns
  • clearly out of date content
  • duplicated content
  • readability of legal notices
  • traditional proofing errors, like typos, placeholder copy left in, broken links

How to use the review

You will gain a good idea about which content usability themes need most attention, and can apply the findings across your web content estate.

 Out of date content and duplicated content can be deleted, saving time for your team and users. Clear language on the website will reduce email and chat enquiries. Smoother navigation and a more powerful search will increase conversions and reduce drop off.

 If the reviewer finds concepts, rather than wording, confusing, you might immediately make changes or decide to carry out user research with your customer base, to check if it’s an issue.

360° online and offline content analysis

This type of content insight report goes beyond your site, beyond your other digital and social comms even, to look at the complete online and offline customer experience of your content. It’s basically getting in a test customer, but one who is a content expert.

Every piece of content your user is presented with affects their experience. For continued and repeat satisfied customer, there’s no point having:

  • clear language, good readability and high colour contrast on your website, but the opposite on your social posts
  • perfect style and tone of voice consistency in your enewsletter, but inconsistency and typos in company sales blast emails
  • a smooth path to purchase, then impossible to follow product usage instructions
  • a glossy catalogue through the door, which doesn’t mention the website
  • an event flier, which doesn’t mention the location or has the wrong date
  • a delivery text or email in a very different tone and style to the rest of your customer comms

Planning the analysis

  1. List the online and offline content items your company produces, for example web content, enewsletter, customer emails, order and delivery text content, active social channels, media coverage, postal mail drops. You may need to consult with a few other teams and departments.
  1. Provide links and examples for the online content, in case these are hard to find from your website or the process does not work as it should. Especially monthly enewsletters, which may not be due for a few weeks or may have a lag time for mailing list additions.
  1. Provide a test code to purchase any items.
  1. Provide any auxiliary print items that would not be generated by the purchase, for example press ads and speculative through the door brochures.
  1. The content insights analyst creates a checklist of everything they are told about. Anything additional they encounter from their interactions as a proxy customer they should add to the list.

What a 360º content analysis report should answer

  • Is all your content on-brand, user-friendly, customer-focused, accessible, inclusive and consistent?
  • What is the customer content experience of web, email, text messages, notifications and alerts, social, enewsletter, leaflets/catalogues by post, packaging, invoice or receipt, paper product instructions, returns forms?

The content insights analyst should assess each individual content item against all the agreed criteria. It could take up to 6 weeks to compile but would not need full time input. 

How to use the analysis

Use the report to see how you can better align your tone of voice and clarity of language across all elements of your content, to make sure your wider conversation with your customer is as consistently high quality as you would wish it to be.

For example, if you use “we” and “you” on your website and social, don’t switch to talking to your customer in the third person on instructions, receipts or complaints procedures.

Follow up on the 360º insights around content accessibility, like low colour contrast or small print reducing content readability, with relevant teams.

Taking the analysis further

The content analysis report may also uncover potential service design improvements, like changing courier company or providing a tracking number instead of multiple text and email notifications.

You could also:

  • check existing customer feedback loops your company has, to gain further insight and understanding
  • meet with other teams to discuss how collaborative working could improve your end customer experience of content
  • ask your technical writers for their input on user-centred product content

Takeaways

  1. Structured analysis of content on the page, not just page analytics, can boost your content usability.
  2. You can improve the usability of your current, known to be needed and useful content, by applying best practice techniques like clear language.
  3. Keep up the good work by committing to regular maintenance and spot checks of your content. Remember that it has a life after live!

More resources

Regular, comprehensive checks of your product and brand content, could make all the difference to uptake, repeat customers – and brand reputation. If the user experience of your product content is inconsistent, that’s not just bad for your customer. It’s bad for your brand, and your business, too.

Spot check web content reviews and 360º brand content analysis are 2 ways to focus in on and boost your content usability. The benefits include:

  • Identifying priority content usability improvements to ripple across your site.
  • Discovering content inconsistencies within a solo channel and across multiple channels – is the old logo still being used anywhere? Does tone of voice change from online to offline, or from pre-sale to post-sale?
  • Proactive, rather than reactive, content maintenance planning.

It may feel like you’re drowning in business as usual, but trust me: stepping back and taking an analytical look at your content will save you time overall. It can also be a swift way to increase conversions, and customer satisfaction.

Spot check web content review

You may never have done one of these before: most companies tend only to get informed content usability insights when a new hire joins.

Looking objectively at content highly familiar to you can be hard, so consider outsourcing to a content expert, who should be able to carry this out in a few days. Or assign the work to a new starter on the content team, if they have the right skills.

Planning the review

Ask your reviewer to cover a discrete area, or pick out a variety of content types from across your site for them to scrutinise. For example: news item, transaction flow screen, static informational page, online form, error message, cookie notice.

What a web content usability review should highlight

  • clear language opportunities: plain English, no jargon, simple sentences
  • potentially confusing content: sometimes meaning is obvious to internal staff, but might not be externally – applies particularly to product branding, content categorisation, acronyms and initialisms
  • navigation issues: going round in circles, or irrelevant Search results
  • content accessibility improvements, to meet WCAG 2.1 standards
  • readability improvements, to meet Readability Guidelines
  • editorial style inconsistencies
  • opportunities to increase diversity and inclusion in text and images
  • opportunities to alter tone of voice for appropriacy, dialling elements up and down
  • opportunities for using content patterns
  • clearly out of date content
  • duplicated content
  • readability of legal notices
  • traditional proofing errors, like typos, placeholder copy left in, broken links

How to use the review

You will gain a good idea about which content usability themes need most attention, and can apply the findings across your web content estate.

 Out of date content and duplicated content can be deleted, saving time for your team and users. Clear language on the website will reduce email and chat enquiries. Smoother navigation and a more powerful search will increase conversions and reduce drop off.

 If the reviewer finds concepts, rather than wording, confusing, you might immediately make changes or decide to carry out user research with your customer base, to check if it’s an issue.

360° online and offline content analysis

This type of content insight report goes beyond your site, beyond your other digital and social comms even, to look at the complete online and offline customer experience of your content. It’s basically getting in a test customer, but one who is a content expert.

Every piece of content your user is presented with affects their experience. For continued and repeat satisfied customer, there’s no point having:

  • clear language, good readability and high colour contrast on your website, but the opposite on your social posts
  • perfect style and tone of voice consistency in your enewsletter, but inconsistency and typos in company sales blast emails
  • a smooth path to purchase, then impossible to follow product usage instructions
  • a glossy catalogue through the door, which doesn’t mention the website
  • an event flier, which doesn’t mention the location or has the wrong date
  • a delivery text or email in a very different tone and style to the rest of your customer comms

Planning the analysis

  1. List the online and offline content items your company produces, for example web content, enewsletter, customer emails, order and delivery text content, active social channels, media coverage, postal mail drops. You may need to consult with a few other teams and departments.
  1. Provide links and examples for the online content, in case these are hard to find from your website or the process does not work as it should. Especially monthly enewsletters, which may not be due for a few weeks or may have a lag time for mailing list additions.
  1. Provide a test code to purchase any items.
  1. Provide any auxiliary print items that would not be generated by the purchase, for example press ads and speculative through the door brochures.
  1. The content insights analyst creates a checklist of everything they are told about. Anything additional they encounter from their interactions as a proxy customer they should add to the list.

What a 360º content analysis report should answer

  • Is all your content on-brand, user-friendly, customer-focused, accessible, inclusive and consistent?
  • What is the customer content experience of web, email, text messages, notifications and alerts, social, enewsletter, leaflets/catalogues by post, packaging, invoice or receipt, paper product instructions, returns forms?

The content insights analyst should assess each individual content item against all the agreed criteria. It could take up to 6 weeks to compile but would not need full time input. 

How to use the analysis

Use the report to see how you can better align your tone of voice and clarity of language across all elements of your content, to make sure your wider conversation with your customer is as consistently high quality as you would wish it to be.

For example, if you use “we” and “you” on your website and social, don’t switch to talking to your customer in the third person on instructions, receipts or complaints procedures.

Follow up on the 360º insights around content accessibility, like low colour contrast or small print reducing content readability, with relevant teams.

Taking the analysis further

The content analysis report may also uncover potential service design improvements, like changing courier company or providing a tracking number instead of multiple text and email notifications.

You could also:

  • check existing customer feedback loops your company has, to gain further insight and understanding
  • meet with other teams to discuss how collaborative working could improve your end customer experience of content
  • ask your technical writers for their input on user-centred product content

Takeaways

  1. Structured analysis of content on the page, not just page analytics, can boost your content usability.
  2. You can improve the usability of your current, known to be needed and useful content, by applying best practice techniques like clear language.
  3. Keep up the good work by committing to regular maintenance and spot checks of your content. Remember that it has a life after live!

More resources

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About the author

Lizzie Bruce

Lizzie is the author of 'Task-based intranet content, a step by step guide to user-centred design'. She led Content Design London's collaborative Readability Guidelines project, and provides content services through Cake Consultancy Ltd. With 17 years’ content usability experience across private, public and charity sectors, Lizzie is keen to share her learnings.

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