In part one of my post on content principles, I wrote about how content principles help a product team. In this post, I will map the content principles with the product principles (assuming that the organization have documented their product principles).
Let’s take an example of a fictitious set of product principles of any organization.
- Start small with an eye on big picture
- Align every work with product vision
- Curiosity over boundaries
- Plan modular work that scales
- Our work is an extension of us and the other way around
Content principles and product principles
If the content and design teams understand and follow these product principles closely in their work, we are more likely to grab the right opportunities to use our judgment within the process and the boundaries that help us move in the right direction.
When the process gives us a chance to refine how we work and how we can make things more useful to all the internal and external audiences, it shows that principles are here for the basic directions rather than limiting us to explore our strengths.
Let’s see how we can build the content principles that support these product principles.
Foundation—voice and goal
Content needs to be planned right—there is a method for why we plan the entire content in a certain way. To stay focused, we need to keep the product principles in our mind. Even if there is no reason to plan in a definite way, the certain way has to be documented.
- Does the content express the brand voice or the team’s own opinion or understanding of the brand?
- Is the content’s intent clear?
- Does it position the organization for what it stands for? Does it solidify the positioning?
- Will it scale for the voice and architecture?
Message—words and how
- Clarity is most important. If a message is not clear for example when we are trying to be compliant, we lose the purpose.
- Do not communicate because we want to say something. Design the message because they need it.
- Do not assume anything while writing. Either speak to someone and if you need to use your judgment, always remember that the goal of content is to build the confidence among the users.
- Think for a wider perspective of the audience for their segment, needs, constraints, expectations, and goals. Write to be relevant to all of them but focus on their common goals.
- Follow the authoring guidelines for the voice, terminology, localization, the practices in specific cases such as while writing a physical address, currency, or date. Be open to contribute to those guidelines when you get a chance—you could be the best person to propose something.
- Every message is designed—follow the content design practices.
- Content is part of the experience; it might stay with the people for a long time even after they stop using our product or service.
- Content well designed makes the brand memorable.
You can see the mapping between product principles and content principles. For example:
- Curiosity over boundaries [product]—do not assume anything [content]
- Align every work with product vision [product]—Does it position the organization for what it stands for? Does it solidify the positioning? [Content]
More organizations are planning to invest in a content and design system (a single reference or as two different systems), the goal of a content system is to set up this alignment between product principles and the content principles. This brings the right assurance in the product teams, thus increasing the chances that the teams take the right decisions.
In addition to this mapping, the content and design systems should help the product teams define the validation criteria for this mapping, and how this mapping gives the directions and insights to the organization’s growth as a system.