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Content design in one sentence

Applying a new skill, a new principle or process takes some training. And it’s best to learn working with it in a small project. Take a project that is too big, and you get stuck. The learning curve asks more of you, and you have to familiarise your colleagues with your new way of working. And sometimes even convince them that it gets them better results. In my experience, this is often the case when I introduce content design.

Do I want to demotivate you? No. I actually want to help you with starting small: an existing sentence.

Apply content design on a sentence level helps you learning and showing that it works. It creates better content, shortens your pages and gives your colleagues insight. While having your user focus more on the task and less on reading and remembering, not hindered by unnecessary text.

The design

Let’s take an existing sentence I found on a page I was working on:

“If you meet the conditions above and choose to submit an application for X, then fill out form A.”

Now fill out the content design. I know I’m cutting a lot of corners here, but let’s just do it:

When I want to apply for X

I need to send in the application form

So that I can get X

Mental model:
I’ve read the page and know if I meet the requirements. And I really want to start now. Also, I’ve visited webpages and filled out forms before (you’ll see why this is relevant).

What is wrong with the sentence? Well, ask ‘Why do we write this here’ for of each part of it.

“If you meet the conditions above…
The conditions are stated above, so it’s already clear you have to meet them.

“… and choose …”
If you apply, it’s because you have chosen to do so.

“… to submit an application…”
It’s self-explanatory that you have to submit your application. So ‘apply’ suffices

“…for X…”
Well, we are on the page about X, so what other subject could it be? And it’s on the form as well.

“…then fill out…”
Do we really expect people to send in blank forms?

“…form A.”
Ah, finally, the why of the sentence.

So we can suffice with “Apply with form A”. That’s a 75% reduction.

What if you could reduce only half of your content this way? That’s already a 35% reduction, without loosing any information.

This might sound like nitpicking. But it’s an easy way to train your skills and show your colleagues the effect; pages that are easier to read, understand and remember. With better results for your organisation (for example more complete applications for a permit) and happier users.

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