Des Traynor spoke to lots of developers from both the Sanger Institute and the EBI about content strategy for application developers. Read on for sketchnotes, slides and a note on “micro copy”.
It’s great to see this (free!) article from Bang Wong in Nature Methods. Bang, who gave an EBI Interfaces talk in June 2010, writes about the positive impact of laying out page elements according to a regular grid. If you have been reading this blog recently, you’ll know that I am pretty keen on pushing the topic of content strategy and design, and layout really tackles the latter, page-by-page. We need to be able to design out content so that it is readable and consumable, otherwise it won’t convey its message effectively.
As Bang states,
“Well-structured content can guide readers through complex information, but when the material we present lacks order, it can confuse or, worse yet, agitate readers trying to make sense of the material”
I am really happy to see these concepts and approaches being introduced to the scientific authors, and especially in such a high-profile publication.
If you’re interested in learning some more, designer Mark Boulton has a series of excellent articles on this subject. It has of course been around in print design for years, but Mark’s articles were really what brought it to my attention a few years ago, and if you are a web designer, you should definitely start there (there are some differences with what works in different media… ).
On November 14th, Des Traynor will talk about how content strategy fits in with software development. Des is a user experience and user interface designer with a background in software engineering. With a wealth of experience to draw on, Des will talk to us about “The language of software: the role of content strategy in software development”.
WHERE: M203, Cairns Pavilion, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus
WHEN: November 14, 15h00 – 16h00
If you don’t work on the Genome Campus, but you would like to attend this event, please contact me, and I can help to arrange that. (I can’t help with travel costs, though – sorry!)
Content, content, content. You’re writing it, editing it, scheduling it – great. But how do you manage it? Oh yes, a content management system.
At the EBI, we have been working with Drupal for some time, and now there is a nascent community of Drupal users and developers across the EBI, which is great. In order to bring everyone up-to-speed, my colleague, Bren Vaughan, coordinator of the “External Services” web team in which I work, gave a short presentation, explaining Drupal to an EBI audience.
Also, if you want something to print out and stick on your wall (!), you can see my sketchnotes of Bren’s talk:
The EBI Interfaces talk on September 22 was “Science & Social Media – Making Your Work More Visible and Engaging“, given by Nicola Osborne, Social Media Officer for EDINA.
Nicola spoke about effective ways to use Social Media to communicate your work. This included strategies, tools, guidelines and ways to plan, manage and monitor social media to engage the people you want to communicate your scientific work with. She drew upon her extensive experience of advising JISC-funded projects, academic researchers and the wider community on social media.
Some key points
- Social media channels give you a way to engage with an audience or community, and start a dialogue;
- Go to where people are already, rather than trying to create a community in a vacuum (i.e. Twitter is not always the answer!);
- You need a strategy to manage this effectively – goals, time, resources, measuring success;
- You need to consider Who?, What?, Where?, and When? as part of that strategy;
- Think about how to [re]use content across different channels;
- Develop ambassadors. Create content for them, and let them communicate to their networks.
- Tell stories (this is engaging!);
- You must budget time and resources for effective social media activity
- Guidelines, written well, can help content authors
In which I expand (quite a lot!) on the “Content” bit of my post about the UX iceberg, and explain why I think it is important to put content first. I’m not saying anything new, and I do refer to the EBI content a lot, but I hope you can abstract this, and apply it to your situation. On the other hand, if you’re at the EBI, this is just up your street!
This is, as I say, quite a long post. You might want to get a cup of coffee!
I am currently working on a redesign project. A big one. I’m part of a team (a working group, in fact) made up mostly of web designers, drawn from across the EBI. Our work covers a whole range of UX design activities, and it needs to fit in with the work being done by other working groups involved in the redesign project. I’m there to coordinate that work, and to help our working group interact with others that are part of the same project.
Initially, we were asked to deal with visual design, but obviously, that is just the tip of the UX design iceberg. In fact, we we need to start deep down below the surface, with the content, then we can work out how all of that content is structured. We also need to work on layout of pages and the visual design of aesthetics of what you can see at the surface. Quite a bit to be getting on with.
I have a confession to make: I love typography. And having just read Web Design is 95% Typography, I think I love it just a little bit more:
95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.
Macro-typography (overall text-structure) in contrast to micro typography (detailed aspects of type and spacing) covers many aspects of what we nowadays call “information design”.
Optimizing typography is optimizing readability, accessibility, usability(!), overall graphic balance.
During her talk at the EBI, Sue Keogh included a slide with a screen grab of the homepage from the Scientific American website, and told us that the content is well-presented, and is helped by good design.
But there are lots of links on that page… lots of options. Why does it work, when other similar pages fail? Here a few pointers…
Thanks to Mark Bingley for double-checking this review.
Scientific American homepage – the good bits
Many thanks to Sue Keogh for coming down to the EBI, and giving us an intersting and insightful talk about writing great text for websites. Thanks, too, to everyone who attended. Sorry that so many of you had to stand!
will be made available as soon as possible , but Jenny and I thought we could usefully add in some extra notes and links to reading material, to follow up from her talk, and so that you can find out a bit more.
(This talk was given on Nov 11, 2009)