Phone, laptop, tabletop, tablet. Which device should your content (web site info) be available on? All of them? In order to decide you need to step inside your user’s shoes. Ask yourself how the user is coming to the information, is it via a smart phone, tablet, etc.? Let’s go through the process using Parker Payroll Services as the model and go through each device. Starting with a smart phone, what content would a user of Parker Payroll access using this device? A user may use it to check if paperwork has gone through and checks issued. That could be a valuable option. How about accessing forms to fill out payroll data for processing? Probably not so much but it could be conveniently done using a tablet on the go. The content available for a laptop or tabletop computer is the same but might include expanded features, such as a blog, that isn’t necessarily available on smaller devices. An important and over looked factor is how is the information presented. Content on a smart phone will scroll, put the important need to know content at the beginning. The important take away is think like a user of your services and try to meet that need. Last food for thought, what about an app? Could Parker Payroll Services provide content and collect information using a specially tailored app?
I was planning on writing an example of media content for this post but changed my mind and decided to put together a whole design stratagem from start to finish. I am going to cover all the topics I’ve been covering for the past two and half years. I am going to take my fictional payroll company give it a name, logo, letterhead, business cards, brochures, the whole works including web page samples and content marketing samples. We’ll start with company names, develop a branding strategy, type scheme, color scheme, logo and on and on. Why I think this is a great idea is because I will be taking many of the ideas, rules and suggestions I’ve made and implementing them. I am using my fictional payroll company because of it’s inherent un-sexiness. I don’t find it very helpful seeing albeit great design examples that are easy. It isn’t hard to be daring and edgy if the business is an advant garde art gallery or a yoga studio. Payroll companies are real world and their clients are dry cleaners and plastics manufacturers. Next week, I will name my payroll company and cover why names are important.
What does content have to do with design? Why is a graphic designer going on and on about content? Because it is a whole new world out there and these things go together. Good packing and good content have gone hand in hand since the first narrative went up on the first church wall. Coke™ has put on YouTube it’s content strategy plan (they call it vision) for 2020. They essentially plan to take over the world. Not only do they plan to take over the world they want you to help. It is either terrifying or genius. Before you check it out, think about what you or your company may take away from this. While Coke™ plans on high interaction from consumers, can you, on a lower level, get your customers to interact with you? Is there a way to get them to tell you your story before you ask? For example, my fictional payroll company if you recall, has rolled out some spiffy new software that will save the company and company clients money, or offer more services for the same money or much expanded services for only a little more money (ideal). I can ask how my payroll company’s expanded capacity has helped my clients. In return, I feature in my emails, website however I communicate, how great this turned out and my client gets free exposure. Anyway, go check out Coke™. You can decide if you want to be part of the collective or not. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LerdMmWjU_E
Content in a quantity world. You know you have to create compelling content in the look at me world of customer communication. What is compelling? Your new software program is compelling. No, really it is. Actually it isn’t but you can make it compelling or at least some what compelling. Tell your customers what your new software is going to do for them. How the new program will help your people provide better service. How it will allow your customers to add features to the product/service they get from you for little or no money. No money is better, it creates a bond of caring. You’re sharing some of your cost savings thus recognizing your customer’s value. Use the opportunity to introduce some of your staff. A few testimonials from staff about how excited they are to use the new product. (A little piece of advice. If you are introducing a new computer system, before you embark on that odyssey, get feedback about what the needs are from your staff. I cannot tell you how many companies I’ve been to that buy and implement a new system without ever engaging the people who will be using it. Engage your people and you’ll likely find that you don’t need so many bells and whistles and the new system will be embraced instead of perceived as a new form of torture devised by management.) Don’t denigrate the old version of what’s being replaced, you don’t want your customers to think you’ve been out of sync with the rest of the world. Tell your customers how you’re going to be better than great. What if you don’t have new software to crow about? What if you’re looking around the office and you can’t see or think of one thing in your business to tell your customers about? Think about something one person does at your company or something the company does that helps the company run smoothly. Write about that especially if that person or job doesn’t have any direct customer contact. Does the company do any community outreach? No? Ask around, one of your people does. Write about them. And if your company doesn’t do any community outreach, start. It is a no lose proposition. The take away from this? Tell a story. Next, more ways of creating content and awareness.
Be charming. Be compelling. Be enthralling. Be thought provoking. Be on good terms with your thesaurus. Because what that all means is have good content. Resist filler don’t pad pages on web sites, reports, and newsletter items, presentation slides, even email. Be straight to the point, exponential filler is for Tolstoy, not you. Most of what follows refers to web content but it applies to all communication.
Images-we are visual beings. Color printers are faster, cheaper and better than ever. Take advantage of that. No longer must you have formal printed letterhead. But man, don’t use low-resolution images from the web, especially for your logo. If you have good photos use them, if they are not so good, crop and adjust and see if you can make them better. (Don’t start filling your emails with pictures, however.) Use good photos for your presentations or handouts. Please, please, if you are printing san color make your images black and white. Don’t just print color images as black and white, they will not translate well and the piece will lack professional polish.
Ideas-present one idea at a time. That sounds so obvious but it isn’t. It is more important that ever when you think about all the information that is available about everything. Stating an idea and then wending your way to that idea with a bunch of other ideas isn’t going to fly in this day and age of instant information. Think about when you google questions, I click on the hit that appears to be answering my question with the least amount of build-up.
How-as in how is the information received? Consider how the information is consumed; is it on a smart phone, desktop computer, or an iPad? These are things to think about even when sending an email. Sometimes it can be frustrating. Sometimes you have to send a long email. That long email will likely be read on a smart phone if it is sent to more than one person. Not much you can do about it under those circumstances but when you can, be aware of how and what kind of device it is being read on.
Know whom you are creating for. Consider your audience, are they new to your information or are they knowledgeable and looking for more insight. Does that mean you divide up the information in to small digestible parts, A leading to B, to C and so forth? Learn what your target group knows and use the words they use (what will, if on the web become search terms).
Most importantly, whether it be print, slide, web or email, make sure your content is easy to read and the content your audience is looking for easy to find.
Happy Labor Day.