Lean development: From the perspective of a content designer

MINDSET HACK #1: Winning users is our priority

“First: get customers.” Ash says. Because no one is asking anymore, how many features a product has or how well a product works. Investors want to know how many users a product’s already got. For us writers this means, radically focus on benefits. Fancy features? Don’t mention it. Pretty logo? Not a priority. Beautiful pictures? Not a necessity. Radically focus on communicating value to win first adopters and get traction fast & early. Then you can add the other stuff.

Instead of focusing on fancy branding, the biggest sign tells the users what they can expect: delicious food. Chi’lantro is a restaurant based in Austin, TX.
Instead of focusing on fancy branding, the biggest sign tells the users what they can expect: delicious food. Chi’lantro is a restaurant based in Austin, TX.

MINDSET HACK #2: The process is the product

Writers love creating content. We’re makers. We get things published. And thus, we see content as our product. But in today’s world, this approach slows us down. Rather than seeing the sales page, the blog-post or the how-to article as our product, we should see the editorial plan as our product and focus on that. Meaning, the editorial plan constantly evolves and pivots. What content are users looking for? What are they spending time on? What leads to conversion? These questions will shape our editorial plan and serve our customers directly.

MINDSET HACK #3: Tackle the riskiest assumptions first

Ash teaches us to make a distinction between what’s risky and what’s important. His example was that logo design is important, it needs to be done. But it’s not risky. Getting customers who use the product is risky. So, he suggests analyzing what’s risky and tackle that first.

MINDSET HACK #4: Distinguish between a single feature or a complex product

Ash teaches us to learn to identify if an idea is just a new feature or if it’s truly a new product. In content design, I often face a similar situation, although on a much smaller scale. Someone comes to me with a screen they want me to fix. Approaching this request with Ash’s distinction between feature and product can come in helpful here. Is this just a quick-fix spell-check or does this screen and its writing impact the overall outcome? Has a problem been solved, and I just have to re-write it, so it sounds nice or do we have to look at the overall product? If you spell-check a screen, and discover a major flaw in the user flow, it can quickly become expensive. And it’s our job as content designers to spot such errors. On the other hand, opening a potential Pandora’s box when there was just the need to replace the word can get costly too.

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Caroline Pieracci

Caroline Pieracci

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My words make the internet a better place. And I build teams that do the same.