Content by design: 3 Lessons in UX for Content Strategists

Content strategists need to have an understanding of user-experience to create assets that captivate attention and inspire action. Which is why I would suggest learning from the tried and true playbook of smart UX’ers. Here are 3 lessons in UX to create content by design.

Need Finding

Before a user experience designer, UX'er, creates a prototype, one of the primary steps in the design process is to collect user research. With need finding a designer can identify pain points a user is experiencing to create a solution – a better design.

To create content that resonates you need to do a little need finding with your ideal audience – what pain points are they experiencing? What excites them? What do they value? What do they aspire to? Then design your content to address those needs. Less concern is owed to the format, this might take shape as a how-to video, a ‘top tips’ listicle, a decision tree infographic, and on. It is the substance of the content that matters – is there a takeaway? A benefit? Did this enhance the audience’s knowledge on a subject? Did this introduce a new idea the audience is passionate about? Did this offer up a good laugh? Content should always deliver on the inevitable “what’s in it for me?” question.      

Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping in design would, put simply, look something like this three part process:

  • Mock-up future state of the design
  • Validate, disprove, and improve on design requirements through stakeholder evaluation
  • Re-iterate – based on feedback refine design

Applying this three part process to content by design, creators can adopt this as: improvise, test, re-iterate.

Improvisation might be based on creating content from hot button topics in media trends that are relevant to your industry, keyword research, top forum queries. To put this to the test, publish said content and treat audience interaction as your stakeholder evaluation. A blog with the most unique readers or a social posts with the most shares validates that content. Now improve and re-iterate on those content wins – can you repurpose a blog into a video making this content accessible to visual consumers of your audience that prefers this format? Can you cover a topic or theme more in-depth or with complementary content? This is how to create content to win attention.


Traditional, broadcast marketing hinged on transactional exchanges. People are no longer buying it. What people are buying into is brand equity – the perception or intuition one has about a particular brand that incites rational and emotional triggers which ultimately tip the scales in favor or against the decision to transact with the brand.

In other words, a person is more likely to do business with your brand if the experience enhances what they want to feel, know, and do.  

So, to captivate attention good content must create an exchange on empathy. What this doesn’t mean is that content marketers should concern themselves with creating an emotional bond between customer and paper towel brand Z. No. What this does mean.. well…

“From the perspective of the design thinker, a new idea will have to tell a meaningful story in a compelling way if it is to make itself hear. There is still a role for advertising, but less as a medium for blasting messages at people than as a way of helping turn its audience into storytellers themselves. Anyone who has a positive experience with an idea should be able to communicate its essential elements in a way that encourages other people to try it out for themselves.” – Tim Brown, Change by Design.