creators code: how to avoid death by words

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  • Creators Code: How to Avoid

    Death by WordsA Checklist for Creators: 10 Ways to Improve IX, the UX of Information

    2013 Sridhar Machani

  • Impressions are made everywhere and everytime: Everyone judges your product by what they see, hear, and read about your product.

    Buying decisions are made at almost every such impression, or the user experience (UX).Test: Have you ever bought a product or subscribed to a service that had spelling mistakes, confusing text, ugly looks, or reputation of bad-mouthing users?

    Why care about IX (Information Experience)?

  • How to avoid: Common traps: Write, edit, and prepare content Suicide: Inside the product (in-app) Poison: Outside the product Infections: Interacting with users Conspiracy: Support Trial: Documentation Prison: Blog Execution: Social

    Agenda: 10 ways to avoid death by words

  • 1. Common traps: Write

    Be human, write for the humans, not for devices Write for your audience (Normal users? Admins?

    Developers?) Keep it informal, active, direct, and simple Separate content by concepts, procedures, and references

    (where possible) Use screen-shots/images, flow-charts, and videos if words

    are not enough Dont steal content (theres no undo online)

  • 2. Common traps: Edit

    Remove words that are: Unwanted Ambiguous Hurtful, sarcastic, or controversial

    Check for consistent usage of words and style (use either UI or user interface throughout)

  • 3. Common traps: Prepare

    Spell check everything (UI elements, web pages, error messages, emails)

    Proof read for right meaning and context (trial and trail are both correct spellings, but which one do you mean?)

    Use readable font size and styles (purple text on black background is unreadable)

    Repeat the cycle; get more eyes to review

  • 4. Suicide: Inside the product (in-app)

    First-use experience Guide users how to use core functions with warm, welcoming words Show how to get back to home page/screen and how to get help

    Retain known names and shortcuts for common tasks in the UI Take permissions and inform users about delicate tasks (saving

    personal data or sending data to third-party apps) Notifications

    Dont disturb users when theyre sad/angry (I wish we knew how :-)) Interrupt only if you must Show meaningful messages

    Remove clutter and distractions

  • 5. Poison: Outside the product Website:

    Ensure users can easily navigate, sign-in and sign-out, find help, and contact you

    Tell them who you are App stores:

    Tell users what works, what doesnt Tell them what is free, whats not

    Newsletters/Brochures: Tell stories, try not to sell on every page Ads:

    Show or talk about your core functions, not every feature Dont clutter

  • 6. Infections: Interacting with users

    Be nice: Talk to them like you would talk to close family and friends Show empathy and the benefit of doubt - you dont know what

    battles theyre fighting Be fair:

    Keep promises - nobody forgets whats due to them Dont argue - youll be a loser even if you win If theyve made mistakes, give them a chance to exit or come good

    Be transparent: If youve made a mistake, admit it Dont mislead them, especially in matters of money and privacy

  • 7. Conspiracy: Support Problems:

    Diagnose the issue before starting to fix a problem Sometimes users think its a problem, but it may not be, or it

    may lie somewhere else Set expectations - price, terms, what is/is not covered, ETA Watch out for users who complain, and more so for those who

    dont complain at all Forms (in-app):

    Gather information that you really need to fix an issue Avoid collecting or storing sensitive data

  • 7. Conspiracy: Support (Continued)

    Emails/IM: Read users emails/messages before responding Collate requests and instructions, instead of sending an

    email/message for each item Forum:

    Monitor, moderate, and respond in reasonable times Phone:

    Its better to use phone calls for escalations or critical functions Unless you can sustain quality phone support, stick to emails/forums On a call, be patient, soft, and courteous, and hear the users out

  • 8. Trial: Documentation

    A rough draft is better than nothing Organize and visually separate topics based on concepts, procedures

    (install, upgrade, configure, customize), and references Publish PDF, HTML guides (some of us still like to print and read) Videos are great for users with high Internet bandwidth - for others,

    publish audio and transcript versions of the videos Involve writers early in the game - from planning and design Involve support teams to identify areas of focus that need extensive

    documentation (more screenshots and examples) Send beta docs to some users for early reviews and bug fixes Its a constant cycle - draft, review, fix/update, publish

  • 9. Prison: Blog

    Write about topics that help and entertain users Great place to talk about your product updates, timelines,

    plans, and teams Write about industry topics and win brownie points Keep it official, not such a good idea to talk about your

    family problems Be prepared for all kinds of user comments - its up to you

    to moderate it, just let the users know about it

  • 10. Hanged: Social

    Use social media platforms to build relationships and engage with users

    Its about your companys brand - what it stands for Post and respond regularly Be careful what you write/share - it cant be taken

    back Analyze and identify trends - no news is generally NOT

    good news out there

  • Less support calls/requests -> more savings High user recommendations and ratings ->

    growth in users and revenue Users' trust and confidence -> easier to upsell

    and market other products

    What does it all mean for your business?

    Good information experience can bridge a lot of gaps

  • Need Help? Questions? Suggestions?Contact me!

    Creators Code, the book

    It would be great to elaborate on these topics with lots of examples, comparisons, and HOW-TO procedures.

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