Understanding the technical and rhetorical aspects of User Experience (UX) design to improve engagement with public audiences
Key Words: User Experience (UX), Content Strategy, CX Design, Content Profession, Branding, Web Design, Nonprofit Marketing
As Communications & Partnerships Manager for Elevation, Emily facilitates conversations with nonprofit clients about their goals, the technology they deploy to reach those goals, and the ways in which user experience and social context guide audiences to meaningful encounters. With commitments to community-building, cultural exchange, and nonviolence, Emily thinks holistically about the process, design, and narrative that audiences encounter in digital contexts.
As Website Copywriter, Content Strategist, Blogger and Marketer, Brittany draws on her literary studies training and copywriting skills to develop content strategy and marketing for nonprofits, fine-tuning structure, content, and style to help organizations clarify their message and speak with a coherent voice in digital spaces. To develop content strategy, she uses a combination of digital artifacts, testimonials, and conversations to capture an organization’s goals, values, challenges, and the communities the organization seeks to serve.
Friedrichs, Emily and Brittany Frater Jordt. Writing as Content Strategy and User Experience Design. [Digital Exhibit]. Clinic for Writing and the Public Good. Retrieved from: https://pgwrit.wordpress.com/
- Educational Backgrounds: multi-disciplinary, nonlinear paths to Content Strategy and UX Design
- Working with/writing for Nonprofits
- From Content Strategy to UX: Writing as Design
- Engaging the Audience through Listening and Storytelling
- Advice for Nonprofits: Best Practices for Content Strategy/UX Writing
- Additional Resources
I. Educational Background
Brittany’s path to Content Strategy: learn how the strategic use of an English degree enhances storytelling in an evolving social media landscape.
Having graduated with a degree in English, Jordt didn’t go directly into a marketing role after college. Her first step into this field was through social media. She discovered that her degree was relevant because her passion for storytelling and basic understanding of grammar made good content strategy possible, enhancing the flow and clarity of an organization’s narrative.
Emily’s path to UX: how a degree in Anthropology allowed her to understand different perspectives, an essential trait when relating to technology users.
Friedrichs studied anthropology and double majored in ethnicity, race, and migration which led to her career in UX design. She loved to analyze and experience other cultures as a way to experience new worlds. After graduating, she spent some time teaching in New York City and taught elementary education. Anthropology helped her see things from others’ perspectives which is essential for UX design.
II. Working with/Writing for Nonprofits
Jordt describes the power of working towards a greater good.
Though Jordt’s role working as a content strategist for Elevation is new in the grand scheme of her career, the drive to make a positive and meaningful impact has been a long-held constant for her. This characteristic led to her interest and involvement with Elevation where she has the opportunity to collaborate with a wide variety of nonprofits. Her services remain adaptable in that she works with the nonprofits or not-for-profits to discern how her work can have the largest impact. When she provides these services, she does so under the context of a greater good, making the work personally and communally meaningful.
Friedrichs describes maintaining her activist roots during an evolving Internet era.
As the internet developed during Friedrichs’s childhood, so did the possibilities of user-focused design. Though she didn’t have much experience with computer technology, watching it evolve led her to question the way it was used. In keeping with her collegiate experience working as an activist, she began to ask questions about how people interact with technology and how it could be changing our society. This led her to a role in marketing at Elevation, where she uses UX Design to capture the possibilities of the nascent internet medium, focusing on activism to promote a greater good.
III. From Content Strategy to UX: Writing as Design
Visual Rhetoric and precise language in content strategy are essential in drawing attention to important aspects of public-facing writing. This topic in particular is vital to highlight due to the timing and motivation-specific nature of creating and maintaining publics and writing for the public good as a whole. Content strategy is essential to the success of organizations like Elevation Web and their clients, including OurPath. This topic is important to highlight primarily because it functions almost as a “first line of offense,” or a pitch to the public about the writing that will be presented. The presentation and overall cultural awareness of a text can make or break a public.
Moving from Content Strategy to UX
Content strategy focuses on the intended audience and why they should be engaging with a particular text. The motivations and general disposition of the audience is important to gage in order to create an effective text; often the content strategy part of the process for our clients begins, or the web design process for our client begins, with content strategy and then moves to UX.
Understanding Audience Motives and Goals: UX Design
What shapes the goals for nonprofit UX design? Emily suggests it’s a combination of what you want to teach your audience and what the audience is actually looking for. Beyond content, the organization of the website is equally if not more important than the information included on the site. That organization includes developing a style and using it consistently throughout.
Implementing Content Strategy through UX Design
The visual aspects of a text or online medium determine whether or not a text is worth engaging with. Online mediums must be meticulously arranged in order to maximize and capitalize on the attention of the reader, and must prolong that attention for as long as they can through certain organizational choices.
Brittany describes her research process with her clients and the iterative process they go through to settle on a content strategy that synthesizes all the voices into a coherent narrative before moving on to UX design.
Emily talks about ways she curates feedback from her research and work. She mentions using large-scale surveys, talking with board members at the nonprofit, and using data points generated from Google Analytics.
Situational awareness of the intended audience is essential in writing an effective text. Organizations like Elevation Web must stray from controversial topics in order to pander to a wider audience and create meaningful discourse and prolonged and meaningful attention towards specific campaigns or other texts.
Using examples from organizations working with donors, Brittany describes how design is guided by convenience and trust, knowing the goals of audience will guide design and writing decisions.
Using Gen Z activism around inequality during COVID, Brittany describes the importance of context and medium to reaching and resonating with a given audience — in other words, the social and cultural climates that need to be recognized to effectively market ideas.
IV. Engaging the Audience through Listening and Storytelling
Listen to Britney share how content designers listen to client organizations to establish a personal connection between the website and the viewer, using past knowledge to engage empathy both for the Content Strategy designer, and for the organization listening to the audience they want to reach.
Britney discusses what it is like working as a content strategist and how she relays information to the non-profits to the people that they serve. Additionally, she talks about how it is important to deliver the right content to each specific audience and how she measures an audience’s compatibility to the website. Finally, she emphasizes the importance of transparency when designing a content strategy for a nonprofit and the UX designers.
V. Advice for Nonprofits: Best Practices for UX Writing
Learn how leading with authenticity is a decisive factor in encouraging interaction with your non-profit organization.
Brittany explains how leading with authenticity is crucial to marketing your non-profit organization. By making your website accessible and demonstrating how your non-profit benefits the world, you are setting your organization up for success.
Clarifying Your Mission Statement: Learn how nonprofits can thrive off making their mission clear and communicating it in a powerful way.
Brittany explains how important it is for nonprofits to make their mission unique and communicate it effectively. She describes how it’s essential to know the various audiences you’re speaking to personalize the process.
Communicating to Your Audience Effectively
The importance of listening to an organization’s intended audience when creating content that supports their organization’s social movement.
Brittany describes the importance of listening to the organization’s intended audience when creating content that supports their social movement. She argues that it is essential to gather information about the social movement directly from those that it impacts most, as it ensures the content is most effective.
- Link to Elevation Web About Page: https://www.elevationweb.org/about-us/#origins
- Content Strategy Defined (Kristina Halvorson): https://www.contentstrategy.com/what-is-content-strategy
- What is Web Copy? https://www.techwalla.com/articles/what-is-website-copy
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