You need three things to design content. Those three things are people, standards, and patterns. Maybe you’re not convinced.
|For content design to make sense, you need to know who the user is and what they’re thinking.||For content design to be consistent, you needs guiding principles and conventions.||For design to happen quickly, you need to identify repeated problems and solve them.|
Yeah. They use and pay for your software. And they generally have a choice about the matter so you need to design with them in mind. (See Principles of content design > Respect the user) People are a part of the design process.
Double yeah. Without standards you’ll taste two flavors of confusion:
No company ever sets out to “work in silos”. It’s a communication problem. It’s solved when everyone agrees on how to communicate. When folks talk about the same thing in different ways, it makes effective knowledge transfer impossible.
Here’s a question: What does your product do? Can you describe it in a sentence using plain language? Here’s a less simple question: Would everyone on your team give the same answer? What about everyone in the company?
In music, a harmony is achieved when notes of the same wavelength are played together; the resulting chord is louder than the sum of its parts. The opposite of harmony is dissonance. Standards are like sheet music: they keep everyone in sync.
Users feel the pain too. Inconsistency in terminology makes a system challenging to learn and frustrating to use. Ever try to find your way in a neighborhood with multiple streets with the same name?
Consistent voice and tone is important too. It might seem like a “nice to have,” but remember, some folks use your software all day, every day. A disjointed semantic model and clumsy product narrative can slowly wear a groove in your users’ brains.
These are real humans with lives outside our software. Build a product that treats them with respect.
Not necessarily. Go ahead and build things from scratch every single time. You might be good at it. But it’s a pain in the neck. And every time you approach a design problem without considering what’s happened before, you risk introducing inconsistencies and making mistakes. I suggest you always look for patterns.
For users, repetition is a part of learning; conventions make a product easier to learn. Patterns are how you do this. So while, you could design content without patterns, it’s not recommended.