IXD301 Week 2 What is content? Where does it come from?

Content Sources

Content can come in lots of different ways. To start at the beginning it’s probably best to review sources of content theses include:

  • Client Supplied
  • Self-Generated
  • Third-Party Sites (e.g. Wikapedia)
  • User-Generated Content (e.g. YouTube)
  • Application Programming Interface (API’s)- this is intermediary software that allows two applications to talk to each other.

Client Supplied Content

Content can also come from clients in a variety of formats these may include:

  • Emails
  • Word Documents
  • PDFs
  • Excel Spreadsheets
  • Powerpoint/Slide Deck
  • Tabular Content
  • Images
  • Videos

As a designer, it’s important to know how best to present content on a website. Content should be concise and readable. If a client is presenting you with reams of information and wants it all to be included on a website it’s important to consider how to make this information more digestible. For example, a short synopsis could be included on a web page with a downloadable pdf that provides the full content or images of how a devise works may actually be more effectively presented in a video.

An example in this weeks lecture I found particularly interesting and an effective solution to a difficult content problem was about content sent by a car auto electrician. The company provided a service that would reprogram a vehicle’s E.C.Us making it go faster. The company wanted to add a search function on their website to allow people to find out exactly how much faster this service would make their vehicle.


Example of content presented on a an excel spreadsheet was filtered and presented on a webpage.


The content to be included in this search function was provided in a lengthy excel spreadsheet (shown above left). This was an impractical format option that had to be made far more accessible for the user. The centre image shows a programme that was written to format the content in a short table that made the relevant information accessible by filtering out the make and model of the car. This is an excellent solution to the problem of forcing people to scroll through copious amounts of data to find the information they are looking for. Now by simply applying two filters, they are able to reduce the list to 7 options to search through rather than thousands. From here the contents visuals can be designed as shown in the above far right image. I think this is a brilliant example of how important the format that content is presented in is to the effectiveness of the design solutions. Once again this highlights that design is not simply about making attractive visuals. Though that is an important part of design perhaps an even more important part is making an app, webpage or software outcome functional and easy to use. Content design plays a vital role in this.

Self-Generated Content

Self-generated content may consist of logos and branding materials, illustrations and blogs to name only a few. Blogging can be a great way to share knowledge and document your learning within an area. It’s a good idea to consider blogging if you want to develop the ability to article design thinking using platforms such as medium, tumbler and campus press.

Image of Michael Bhaskar at Google Talks

Content Curation

Michael Bhaskar presents curation in a simple equation similar to the find, organise, share method presented in this weeks lecture.

curation = selecting + arranging to add value

Content curation is really important because we now live in a world where we are faced with the problem of too much choice. Just producing more doesn’t work. What we now need is tailored content that meets the needs of the individual. We need to narrow the selection and help people to choose. In fact, research has shown that too much choice prevents people from making decisions as seen in the Jam Experiment. The Jam Experiment was the focus of a study by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper from Columbia and Stanford University, published in 2000. The study found that when a larger display with a choice of 24 jams was made more interest was generated however people were ten times less likely to purchase the jams than from a smaller display with only 6 options. There have been numerous “choice studies” since all finding similar results.

Jam experiment

A meta-analysis completed by Alexander Chernev, Ulf Böckenholt and Joseph Goodman, Choice Overload: A conceptual review and meta-analysis found that reduced choice motivated consumers to buy under the following circumstance.

  1. When people want to make a quick and easy choice
  2. When the product is complex (so fewer choices help the consumer make a decision)
  3. When it’s difficult to compare alternatives
  4. When consumers don’t have clear preferences

This was really well outlined in an article by Florent Geerts. It is also noted by Michael Bhaskar that the principle of loss eversion also comes into play, i.e. too much selection makes it more likely to make the wrong choice. To avoid the regret of making the wrong choice people simply don’t make the choice and move on.

It’s also good to note that people still like the agency of feeling that they have chosen so some choice is good however to0 much choice leads to “choice paralysis”. By following the above equation we are able to present the most relevant content in the most accessible way in order to add value to what is being presented.

A great example of this can be seen in how Netflix “curates” its content. I was able to outlive DVD rental shops as it provided convenience yes but also due to a different model of selection. It provided more choices but they are tailored so the customer doesn’t see everything only a smaller selection of a category the customer is interested in. i.e the curated model of selection provides a lot more possible choices that are reduced by category for the customer to select from giving the customer a better, tailored selection to choose from.

This can be applied to much simpler content curation i.e. creating my portfolio website. Here I need to select the content that best demonstrates my design abilities as well as my process. Once I have gathered and created all the relevant content I need to arrange it in a way that best meets the needs of those visiting my website (e.g. UX lead/Hiring manager) making the most relevant information for the user easy to find and digest.  This is the arranging to add value part of the “curation equation”. To do this I need to consider whether to use videos, images, diagrams, written content and so on. I also need to consider the user flow throughout my website and how to structure each page which will be helped by user and job stories.

Basic Principles

  • Good content is appropriate
  • Good content is useful
  • Good content is user-centred
  • Good content is clear
  • Good content is consistent
  • Good content is concise
  • Good content is supported

While the above principles seem like common sense it can be easy to lose sight of everything you need to achieve when curating content. Therefore in order to avoid focusing on only some of the above principles, I think this is a great checklist to return to when curating content.

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