A group of designers gather around a computer for a design critique.
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How to give impactful content design feedback

by Taylor Rohwedder

Why is giving feedback so important, particularly through the lens of content design?

In this burgeoning field, it’s all about optics. It’s true. It’s rare to find yourself at an organization with a 1:1 ratio of product/UX design to content design. As a result, you might find yourself straddling multiple pods and getting pulled into designs as a final step to review and tweak content superficially. Often, folks see this as our whole job, rather than a small slice of it.

  • Highlight the importance of the practice so content design can grow within an organization.
  • Help others understand that usable content isn’t just grammatically correct and snappy, but it’s also:
  • Serving a clear and agreed-upon purpose that aligns with business and user needs.
  • Delivered via the right medium for your users and in the right moment.
  • Structured in a digestible and understandable way for all users, based on their accessibility needs and the medium through which they’re consuming it.

Ask the right questions

Sometimes, simply asking questions is feedback in and of itself. Why? Because folks often conflate content design with surface-level elements only — things like grammar and punctuation, voice, and word choice. This might be the kind of feedback that’s most often requested of you.
Those elements are certainly important, but they’re only part of the story, and don’t always move the needle significantly toward better usability if strategic or structural problems exist.

  • What’s the business goal of this experience? And the user goal?
  • Is there any content that’s distracting the user from accomplishing their goal or that of the business?
  • What are the most important messages to convey in this experience?
  • Does the information hierarchy support those messages?
  • What kind of assumptions are we making about our users?
  • How can we test those assumptions?
  • Do we know if our users have a mental model of “X” concept already?
  • How does their mental model influence our content?
  • Does our content support that mental model?
  • Is the action we’re asking users to take serving our users’ needs or is it a technical requirement?
  • If a technical requirement, must we surface that to the user?
  • How did you decide on the medium through which to deliver this message?
  • Is this the user’s preferred way to consume information or interact with this experience?
  • Do we have an opportunity to experiment with other mediums?
  • What kind of cognitive accessibility considerations did you take when designing this content? Cognitive accessibility could take into account users who are operating on a lack of sleep, are experiencing memory impairment, or have difficulty concentrating.
  • Could additional information help certain users complete a task? (i.e. how long it will take, what to have handy, how many steps are involved)
  • Why is this the ideal moment to deliver this piece of information to the user?
  • Is there any information in this flow that’s not critical to completing the task? If so, do its benefits outweigh its potential hindrance?
  • How are we, as an organization, defining “X” term?
  • Is that definition clear for our user?
  • Do they know this term by another name?
  • Given where the user is in their journey, how are we shifting our tone to meet their emotional needs?
  • What’s the readability score of this content?
  • Are there opportunities to improve readability?

Frame your feedback in the right way

For content designers, framing feedback in the right way is especially crucial. Unlike other specializations, writing is likely a universally held skill at your organization. That said, content design is not. When offering feedback on words, however, it’s tempting to simply rewrite it yourself. But, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Want to keep on learning? Level up your UX writing and content design skills in one of our courses.

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