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Frequently Asked Questions

These common questions and their short answers are taken from Erica Jorgensen’s book Strategic Content Design: Tools and Research Techniques for Better UX. You can find longer answers to each in your copy of the book, either printed or digital version.

  1. Why is research for content design important?
    Content research can be directly tied to or correlated with business impact. If you know confidently what words and phrases are prefer- able to your audience and use those words in your content, you’re going to help your company decrease costs (by reducing calls to your customer service department). You’re also going to strengthen the business by creating more revenue, making customers more loyal to your company (increasing customer “long-term value,” or “lifetime value,” or LTV). See Chapter 11, “Apply Insights and Share Business Results.”

    With this increase in business impact comes greater respect for the role of content creators in your company. That respect, in turn, can lead to many other wonderful things: more attention for your team; opportunities to present the results of your work in business review meetings; a deeper, broader understanding across your company about the importance of content; and better support and recognition for your team, such as more resources, and even increased staffing and promotions.
  2. I’m interested in running content research studies, but how do I know what content to focus on for evaluation? It’s hard to know where to start.
    It’s natural when starting your content research program to want to evaluate all your content. Instead, a wise first step is to think about what major launches you have coming up. Is there a new product launching, a new feature that’s being released, or a big promotional campaign to win over new customers? If you have a few weeks of time before such an event, it’s a great idea to evaluate the content that’s related to it.

    If you don’t have a launch or campaign on the horizon, you need to think about what your company’s Most Important Content, or “MIC,” is. For further details about how to identify your MIC and understand what specific content is smartest to prioritize for content research studies, see Chapter 4, “Evaluate the State of Your Content,” and Chapter 5, “Identify Your Content Research Goals.”
  3. What are a few essential steps to take prior to doing content research?
    First, you may need to take some important steps like defining exactly what “good” or “great” content is, from your point of view as a content expert. Second, set yourself up for success by making sure that your content is in solid shape before running any content research studies on it. (See Chapter 3, “Identify Your Content Quality Principles” and Chapter 4.)

    Once you’re confident about what you and your team mean when you refer to content that’s good or great, update the content you’re going to evaluate so that it reflects your “good content” principles. Only after you’ve taken that step and feel confident about the quality of your content should you start the process of evaluating that content using content research.
  4. What types of content research questions are there?
    Content research takes many forms. There are endless ways to go about it, although there are two basic types of research: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research measures the “what”: What percent of your customers prefer one word over another, or what number of customers out of a sample of them are likely to take the action you want them to? Qualitative research reflects the “why”: Why do customers think or act the way they do? (See Chapter 1, “The Power of Content Research.”)

    Depending on what questions you want your research to answer (see Chapter 5) you may want to use one or more of the typical content research study categories: Actionability, Audience-Specific, Clarity, Comprehension, Hedonic (or Sentiment), Naming, and Preference studies. There are a few basic content research question formats that can be used for all of those research categories, including multiple- choice, rating-scale, and open-ended questions. (See Chapter 7, “Craft Your Content Research Questions.”)

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