collaborating to go faster
Summary
To support the design of a new Cancer Care website MVP, I created a collaborative method to get crucial inputs for writing tone-considerate microcopy as quickly as possible.
Context
My client's content writer was struggling under the weight of other duties at their org and couldn't create new microcopy for the website MVP we were launching in a few weeks. The team asked me to help get it finished.
Approach
I hadn't been involved in the project much up to this point. What I had worked on was:
1. Wrote basic narrative outlines for their wireframes
2. Documented the tone of all the other products we had made for them up to this point and placed them in context of each other in the brand's overall voice.
I started writing options for different sections of microcopy, but exploring and reviewing wasn't something we had a lot of time for, and no one else was in a position to make a decision without my guidance.
What I needed now was direction and a better understanding of our position, audience, and context.
Because we didn't have much time, I created a collaborative exercise for the team to complete to help me understand more about 
1. our audience
2. the goal of our UI
3. and the context in which someone would use this MVP 
This way, I could place it in our client's voice and make it distinct from other products.

Example of 1 exercise participant's response 

1. User
- Who is our primary user group?
- What might a cancer patient be feeling before this experience?
- What might a cancer patient be feeling while using this experience?
- What are extreme examples, no matter how rare, of how a cancer patient might interpret a message badly or under stress?
2. UI
- What do we want a cancer patient to do in this experience?
- What feelings do we want to convey to a cancer patient?​​​​​​​
3. Context
- Where in the user journey might a cancer patient interact with this experience?
- How does a cancer patient relate to the topic of this experience?
4. Parallel
- If this experience were a person, what is their job title or social role?
I then had the team rank and rate the traits of the brand's existing voice.
A criteria I adapted from an old version of Facebook's Tone method found in Writing is Designing by Andy Welfle and Michael J. Metts
Result
The output of this workshop helped me reach the shared understanding my team already had, and create a Tone Profile that evolved from the org's brand voice, but was distinct from other Tones in their suite of products.

The tone profile we came to on the Oncology work.

Once I had this in hand, I had a much better grip on how to write microcopy for the entire site before handoff.

The Home/Landing page of the Oncology work

Successes
One key breakthrough that came from this exercise was in reframing the "expertise" of our content and where that shows up in our tone.
When we discussed it, the team was unanimous that our tone to be authoritative as a differentiator of the brand and product.
From the exercise, I discovered that the content already felt authoritative, but the microcopy supporting it felt too formal, used too much jargon, and was overall not approachable enough
Reframing this helped gain buy-in from the client and team to write the site's microcopy in an approachable way.
Opportunities
The main thing that could have made this and many other projects I've worked on a better experience would have been having a dedicated Content Designer on the project on our side from the start.
Having enough context for the work and time to do it comes from being included earlier in the process, and having more team members share the load.
This situation arose from my unique position at my current company as the only Content Designer working across upwards of 10 teams, all focused on different clients, working on different types of projects.
Back to Top