Content strategy

Content strategy focuses on the planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content –

Basic principles

  • Alternative elements: How do you present the content in a more engaging way? Think of how to organize it and present it in a very interesting way

A good example is Spotify’s dashboard and how they organize their content. They have overviewing, different playlist, album covers.

The premise for all music apps can be the same, you start with a grid and then move onto a list.

Think of BMW and how they take the user through a brochure like exploring process to show the user the available options; once you select a model you are then given the information on the car which is not given originally as to not overwhelm users. Think of it as levels of information. They don’t just show you everything at once, it is like peeling back an onion if you will.

Good content is user appropriate – how much and when it is shown is very important. Content is appropriate for users when it helps them accomplish their goals.

Personal behavior content: These are the things you must consider

You must provide context to your content. You can do this by creating user personas

Idea: you could tie the periodic table to jobs.

Content planning for physical factors:

  • Gender
  • disability
  • Device type
  • Geolocation
  • Time
  • Segmentation potential.

You then have to think of how the UI would work in for example a kid friendly clunky tablet

Learning factors:

  • Familiarity with content
  • Reading level
  • educational level

Good content is useful. A good book for research would be – how design makes the world.

Ask yourself

  • What are you trying to improve?
  • Who are you trying to improve it for?
  • How do you ensure you are successful, throughout the entire project, at improving the right thing for the right people?

For example

“Sell product” vs “Sell this product” vs “Show how this product helps nurse practitioners”

Notice how it goes from incredibly vague to directed to the target audience so you can be more user centered.

Good product is user centered

  • The user can figure out what to do
  • The user can tell what is going on

Good content is clear

  • In a language they can understand
  • Is layout in a way they can understand

Good content is consistent

  • Sometimes when you design a product, you have to design for different audiences eg an app for doctors, patients and insurance providers would have to interact with each user very differently as the language used (complexity and some career specific language) could be different.

Good content is concise

  • Sometimes the nice things to have eg animations, images are nice to have but are not necessary. Audiovisual dust bunnies
  • Think how can I make my content concise.
  • Sometimes you can write a ton of content when a video would do a better job.
  • Redundant documentation

Good content is supported

  • Must be supported across diff devices
  • User support – eg a chatbot

The craft of content strategy

Information architecture, Visual design, being able to work with investors, engineers, creative directors, content writer, content strategist. It requires planning. The content strategist has to make sure the content is ready at the ideal time

The content should work for the user.

You have a fickle audience.

Use a readability test tool to ensure the best experience

Stories matter

  • Content people use these stories to help you navigate and sell the products.
  • You must figure out what is the most important  information the user needs then the supporting details and finally the general information (This is the order of importance).
  • The content strategist has failed the user if the site is near impossible to use due to never ending adds.
  • Users are people too

Information architecture

  • This brings order to the chaos.
  • This can be done by creating sitemaps, user flows, content audit, wireframing to better understand the necessary structure.
  • You can’t show everything at the same time – you have to funnel the information.

image of examples here….

  • User flows show how the user would navigate the site. These are incredibly useful.

You need to

  • Evaluate – Think user
  • Design
  • Execute – workflows, sourcing and organizing content, etc…

You also need to execute…

  • Usability test
  • User personas
  • User research findings
  • User research plans
  • Competitor analysis
  • User scenarios
  • Visual representation recommendations
  • Wireframes
  • Taxonomies
  • Quantitive and qualitive content audit and findings
  • Example content
  •  Content style guide

Understanding your users

Using user personas

  • We are not our users. We need to design for them
  • Look up Alan Copper

“Here at Silicon Valley, we forget how skewed our population is, and we should frequently remind ourselves how abnormal we really are. The average person who uses a software based product around here isn’t very average”

– Alan Cooper

How do we build better products?

If we design for everyone we make no individual happy but you can design for specific users.


This is a way to model, summarize and communicate research about people who have been observed or researched in some way. I previously researched this when I was working on my website.

Talk about them as real people – it will feel a bit like method acting but it helps see the world through the users perspective.

Components of goal-directed design that support personas

  • End goals
  • Scenarios – what they are trying to do/achieve

How are personas created?

  1. Interview and/or observe an adequate number of people.
  2. Find patterns in the interviewees’ responses and actions, and use those to group similar people together.
  3. Create archetypical models of those groups, based on the patterns found.
  4. Drawing from that understanding of users and the model of that understanding, create user-centered designs.
  5. Share those models to other team members …

What are they used for?

  • Build empathy
  • Develop focus
  • Communicate and form consequences
  • Make and defend decisions

How do personas work?

  • Narrative practice: This is the ability to create, share and hear stories
  • Long-term memory: This is the ability to acquire and maintain memories of the past (wisdom) from our own life experiences, which can be brought in.
  • Theory of mind (Folk psychology): This is the ability to predict a users needs and wants.

Identify your users

  1. Persona A (A child 8-10): What are they interested in? Is this to do with teaching? Is it fun?
  • Games
  • Bright colours
  • quick lessons – not drawn out.

2) Personal B (Undergraduate 18-22): A different kind of person, different kind of needs. This person might

Think about what you would ask them

  • Ask primarily open ended questions (What games do you like to play?)
  • Ask participants to show more than tell.
  • When possible, ask for specific stories, especially about anything you cannot observe.

Getting access to users can sometimes be difficult.

Spaghetti sauce TED talk

Speaker – Malcolm Gladwell

“Tipping Point” author Malcolm Gladwell gets inside the food industry’s pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce — and makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.

He starts of by introducing the maker of spaghetti sauce in America – he suggest that by profession he is a measurer. He talks about how asking the right question is vital – eg instead of asking what is the perfect product you should be asking what are the perfect products – There is no perfect product but there are perfect products. By varying the products he was asked to improve by different factors and collecting the data he found that the user (Americans) would fall into 3 categories: plain, spicy and extra chunky spaghetti sauce. This increased profits and brand recognition – this was a great incentive in starting to give customers variety (Ragu now has 36 different spaghetti sauces). Howard changed the way the food industry makes the customer happy. They would have focus groups over the years yet they never came to the conclusion of needing more variety. The mind doesn’t always know what the tongue likes if you will. They were trying to find a product that would suit everyone universally – this is kind of impossible, especially with something as personal as taste.

The user does not always know what they want, it is your job to help them figure out how best to serve or in my case design for them.  Give them something to aspire to. There is no good or bad or perfect solutions, just different solutions or options that suit different people. Variability is essential to good design.  By embracing the diversity of human beings you can find a way to make users happy through your design solutions. This is why understanding the user is so important even if you don’t know what the right question is; just chat with them, the information you will get from this will be invaluable.


Speaker: Andrew  McCrea – head of delivery

Topic: UX design placement opportunity #placementwithfathom


  • One of the leading companies in Ireland for UX design
  • Kyle holds the company in great regard
  • Andrew has 16 years industry experinece in digital/\design/UX
  • Ux certified by NN/g —> LOOK UP

Performance through insight

Use analytics, usability testing, design thinking to get better more accurate information based on user needs.

They invest heavily on training for their long term employees and interns.

Go to they run this – as an intern you get to do this for free otherwise it is £1000

They are part of something bigger now, they joined with – Low&behold

They are still very local (office in Belfast) they use a hybrid work experience they are active in NI and Irish UX societies and clubs.


Previous students:

  • Jim
  • Kelsey
  • Pujith
  • Christine – now full time
  • Matthew – current intern.

They all extended  their stay with them after their 2nd year.

What is human experience design?

This is how they see the world of design. How can you make design for the benefit of the people, the business and for technology? Through human experience design they help companies …

Don Norman – founder of Norman group (NN/g) video:

  • Focus on the people, all the people.
  • Finding the right problem – solve the fundamental basic problem and then the small resulting symptom problems will resolve themselves.
  • Optimization – think big picture.
  • UX isn’t always the most important component. The journey the user takes to get to the end result is the most important part.

When Fathom thinks of UX they think of what the end outcome will be, thinking things as a system, how to choreograph user journeys to best serve the user. Think about who the user are and what they need so they can design the correct thing for them.

Russel Ackoff – “….The righter you do the wrong thing, the wronger you become….”

Good design is focused on people not aesthetic. Thinking about people inclusively. Inclusive design is a big thing for them.

They consider impairments like:

  • Visual
  • hearing
  • motor/dexterity
  • motion/vision
  • cognitive
  • speech

as 1/5 people have some kind of impermeant.

Situational impairments: what are people circumstances in the moment so how can you make the interface easier and clearer for them to use?

  • baby
  • cold day
  • gloves

Fathom is the bridge between technology and people.


  • Pets at home
  • NHS
  • Translink
  • AIBank – they reimagined their customer end-t0-end mortgage application process, involving online, offline, digital, phone and branch experiences and the relationship between them. They looked at customers and the user process and how often a customer looking for a mortgage wont just jump in and get one – they will come and go do more research and then maybe decide.

Research methodology:

  1. Workshops, branch visits, call center visit
  2. Heuristic analytics, analytics review, usability testing, affinity mapping (Take all of insight and put it in teams)
  3. Comparators (other banks and services and compare it to your project), Competitive testing, Desk research
  4. Workshops/focus groups, one to one calls, personas


  • Thinking and feeling
  • timeline
  • Future process
  • Touchpoints

Interface design

  • They move through iterations of design
  • Low and then high fidelity prototipes
  • UI

Case study example

In 2018 they worked with BBC what is now BBC Discover – a digital archive.

  • Content and placement of support information was very important here as there was a lot of recording from the troubles and therefore sensitive language that coulf cause issues.
  • Test categories: Perception and understanding, sensitivity to content, ….
  • Usability test report

Research is Design

They love to see research.

Their fundamental tool for them is the double diamond: problem and solution

  1. Discover
  2. Research
  3. Analyze
  4. Synthesize
  5. Refine
  6. Definition
  7. Develop
  8. Prototype
  9. Test
  10. Refine
  11. Solution

Linear view:

They also do contextual studies to better understand who the client is and what their needs is. EG for visually impaired people the screen to speech bus timetable does not work properly, it does not read the times for them.

You get experience out in the field and also designing in house, you get to do contextual observations (How well does the company you are helping analyze information)

Maybe give someone screens and video them/the screen as they use the app to see how well they interact with it and the issues they face. Usability testing!!!!!!!!! As the designer we are more tech-savy – this will most likely not be the same for the user.

They keep up to date with emerging technologies – Augmented Reality, smart tech.

Placement opportunity

  • 1 yr placement but this can be extended
  • Part of the Fathom/L&B team to work and learn from others
  • 2 days of UX Training in first quarter
  • Placement training budgeted circa £1k
  • Mentorship throughout monthly 1:1
  • Library learning resource

What you would do

  • research and discovery
  • Analysis and a synthesis
  • Recommendation and ideation
  • Usability testing
  • Wireframing
  • etc…

What they are looking for:

  • Maybe give someone screens and video them/the screen as they use the app to see how well they interact with it and the issues they face. Usability testing!!!!!!!!!
  • Has an eye and aptitude for analysis and research
  • Recording of usability studies
  • Invest time in learning through secondary research
  • Time management
  • A focus on human needs and interactions
  • Self starter
  • critical thinker
  • empathetic
  • problem solver
  • Good communicator

What they can offer:

  • Training
  • Onboarding and resources
  • Responsibility
  • Process and culture
  • They will train as best as they can – they are investing in you if they think they could keep you.

How to apply

  1. email:
  2. Tell him a bit about yourself and what might have appealed to you about us.
  3. Tell him about your ambitious in UX
  4. Attach and include a link to your CV and portfolio and anything else you feel is relevant.
  5. Deadline 19/11/21

FOCUS on research blog.

They will make their decision in January.


  • You need to post more – currently I am in the red zone – not good
  • Good examples of other students are Lauren Gilmore and Kezie Todd

IXD103 – Style guides – Week 8

Now the style guides have to be more extensive as they have to not only cover print but also digital products/aesthetics.

Style guide

Physical or digital document that represents the styles, patterns, practices, and principles of a design system and teaches how to use it. They encompass a company’s branding guidelines, including logo usage, designated colour palette, typography, etc. You should update your brand guidelines to include digital outputs. Pattern libraries are a detailed subset of the overall style guide.

Good examples

Things to consider

  • Establish a table of contents
  • Break info in to manageable chunks
  • Use plain English and explain things clearly

Modern Tools that help

  • Style Tiles are a design deliverable consisting of fonts, colours and interface elements that communicate the essence of a visual brand for the web. It offers a template to work and design around.

  • Element Collage, an alternative tool by Dan Mall. Mall uses it as triggers for client conversations; it starts a free form conversation to gauge a better direction to go in for the client. It can help clear up the brand direction. The only problem with a vertical element collage is that it can look like a webpage you’ve built, so horizontal is a better format for us.
  •  Interface inventory; taking stock and categorizing the components making up a website. The fewer buttons you have in a website the better the design as it ensures better consistency for the interface.

Managing code

HTML, CSS and JS, building a guide we can use to ensure everything’s consistent. Some elements within your style guides will have definable CSS properties such as colours, type and layout, etc.

Pattern library

An organised set of related, reusable components, often containing code examples, design guidelines and use cases. It ensures a consistent user interface. Big sites are developed by different people over a prolonged period and revised regularly. That almost always leads to a fragmented user interface unless there is something in place to ensure consistency. Essentially it’s a collection of design components that appear multiple times on a site, such as: navigation, slideshows, social media features, news listings, related links, carousels and more. It documents all these ‘patterns’ (also known as components) and defines how they behave, what they look like and how they are coded.

Good examples


A self-contained and reusable pattern that represents a specific piece of interface or functionality.


01 Interface inventory

Choose a website and complete an interface inventory, documenting all the interactive elements used throughout. This could be the website for the brand you completed a set of guidelines for last week, but it is not essential. The important thing is to observe the sorts of buttons and elements of the UI included. For more information follow this link.

02 Element Collage

Create an element collage for your personal brand in anticipation of designing or styling your portfolio website. For more information follow this link.

03 Update your research blogs

Make sure your research blogs are up to date and organised. Daniel will be reviewing these and providing feedback prior to the Easter break.

What should be included

Weekly summaries 

  • Lecture content
  • What you’ve learned
  • Reflection on tasks
  • Analysis of books and sources you’ve looked at


  • Writing and values
  • Monograms
  • Typography
  • Wordmarks
  • Colour
  • Visual Marques
  • Brand guidelines

Practical Work

  • All weekly tasks
  • Pizzeria brand
  • Business cards
  • Example brand guidelines
  • Interface inventory
  • Element Collage
  • All development work, sketches and iterations

04 Portfolio site

Portfolio site design and mapping your style guides on to a site. You MUST at least have a skeleton of a site to work on next week.