Becoming Copy Cats

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I don’t know whether content is King or Queen anymore, but copy is VIP. A few weeks back, I was going to fly. I had booked my flight and everything except that the website refused to mention a little clause about a little matter of my visa. I had called the airline, I got to speak with a man 4,500 miles away, who didn’t help, and then to customer service agents in their office on ground. They told me it was what it was. Anyways, £400 was at stake here, and I could only hope and pray.

You really don’t want people coming to your site, to hope and pray, besides, not everyone believes in any type of god. Most of the issue with content comes from un-definition. Who owns it? Who writes it? Who strategizes around it? Who is responsible for it? It’s too easy for UX professionals to pass the ball, I’ve seen it happen, many times, usually it is not their fault. Business wants to own the content but sometimes they forget to do what they need to do and somehow down the line,  a site is released to the wild with your service being described as ipsum.

Here are some things you should be doing with copy;

GET IT

Lorem Ipsum is only popular because you can easily get it. As early as possible in your project, make content as important as the frameworks you build. People are not coming to your application to play with buttons and click on things. If the roadsigns are wrong or unclear no matter how beautiful, they will do wrong as well, have an accident or something. Don’t downplay the importance of great copy, if there is no one to give it you, as a UX professional you should know the folk you are designing for. So, you should be able to write meaningful things. If  all fails, cry and beg someone or something, by all means get your copy in early.

DESIGN IT

No doubt, changes happen. Copy might be affected as the project undergoes the flux. You should design to accommodate whatever will go in, and you must have had a good idea of what it would be or written something in place that makes sense. It also makes what you design, a little more realistic. It feeds into the general perception of the project as it passes under the eyes of stakeholders.

OWN IT

One of the first questions I asked on a project at my current gig was, Who owns content? Depends on the project I was told. If you land on a project where there seems to be no copy writing resource, or you can’t get hold of the persons(s) take responsibility for the copy. When project stakeholders start asking about things, don’t point your fingers, be responsible for what you have designed for goodness sakes, give them the rationale behind the things you’ve written. Even when the copy writer has put something together, if it doesn’t go with the whole vision of what is being created, speak up, make recommendations.

Let’s be clear.  People read on the web. They just do not continue to read things that make no sense to them. When you write, be specific, be direct. One of my favorite-st quotes is “When in Doubt, Take responsibility” I think that is something that we UX folk have signed up for, so let’s be a bit more thoughtful in getting copy, designing it and owning it. Oh yes, I didn’t lose my £400, thank God!

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