‘Task-based intranet content’ book: now published

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My practical, step by step guide is now available. Currently, it’s the only book on creating user-centred, task-based intranet content.

Buy the book

All options, eBook and print, are the same price of £15 as I believe it’s the content that’s important and valuable, rather than the format. However, for the print version there are additional shipping costs.

Front cover of Task-based intranets a step by step guide to user-centred design by Lizzie Bruce plus back cover photo of author in black and white with wording about the author, full text for this is provided in HTML on this webpage.

About the book

Here’s the back cover synopsis:

‘“This will become the go-to resource for intranet projects” – Robert Mills

Create content that makes it faster for people to find what they need on the intranet than from a colleague. Learn user-centred design as you progress through this practical, stage by stage guide. Generally, people want information about a specific thing, fast, when they visit an intranet. They need it in as little time as possible, so they can get to a meeting, or enjoy their lunch break.

This book outlines processes that put into practice these 3 essential principles for user-centred intranet content:

1. Content reflects a staff need for it.
2. Information is easy to find.
3. Style, tone and language is optimised for users with little time to read and absorb content.

Lizzie Bruce pours her experience of designing intranet content around staff needs for UK government into 100 pages of advice and techniques for creating usable, readable content.

Includes:

  • list of universal intranet tasks
  • glossary of user-centred design terms
  • project “shopping list”
  • timeline planner
  • tips for stakeholder buy-in
  • links to case studies and blogs

Every organisation planning an intranet redesign needs this book.’

About the author

Lizzie Bruce is a freelance content strategist and user-centred design advisor, who’s been improving digital content usability since 2003.

Firmly committed to user-centred, accessible and inclusive design, she’s brought her skills to a wide range of sectors: public to property, legal to leisure, art to eco, and finance to fashion. Her clients have included local and central UK government, the Money Advice Service, RNIB, British Red Cross, YoungMinds, Great Western Railway and University of Cambridge, plus smaller arts, circular economy and wellbeing organisations.

Lizzie led Content Design London’s award-winning Readability Guidelines project, co-authoring the accompanying 2019 handbook, and is a regular contributor to the GatherContent blog. She’s spoken and given workshops on content at conferences and meet ups in Brighton, Budapest, Canberra, London, Melbourne, Sydney and Tokyo.

Thank you

Thanks very much for your interest in this book, and thank you in advance for buying it if you do. It’s for anyone involved in an intranet redesign project, particularly those new to user-centred design practices, but should also be useful to people who haven’t previously worked on a task-based intranet.

I may also make an audio version read out by me.

Thanks again for everyone’s encouragement during my writing of this new book. It’s dedicated to all the user-centred design advocates, content strategists and clear language experts whose work and wisdom have paved its way.

For all the user-centred design advocates, content strategist and clear language experts who have gone before me, and made my path smoother.

Where to buy from

Here are the links to buy it:

Buy in print from Blurb
Buy eBook from Apple Books
Buy eBook from Kobo

I may bring the book onto more platforms too, and will update this list if and when that happens. But it won’t coming out on Amazon, due to my concerns about their working practices.

Update on PDF version: 2 February 2021

I removed the PDF format option from Blurb, as hyperlinks did not function. For a digital version with working links, please purchase the Apple Books or Kobo eBook. There is still a print option on Blurb.

If you purchased the PDF, please email me lizzie@cakeconsultancy.com with a proof of purchase. I will send you a passworded PDF direct, and also an apology for the inconvenience.

Accessing the links as a print book buyer

The links, of course, are not clickable in the print book. In the preface pages I supply a bit.ly short link for my project timeline planner example – and advise using Google or another search engine to access the external references and resources.

However, you can now also access a free online list of all the links in the book.

Thank you for your interest in user-centred intranets!

Early access to ‘User-centred design for intranets’ webbook by Ko-fi.com donation

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We’ve opened early access to ‘User-centred design for intranets: a practical guide for task-based content’ as a Pressbooks webbook.

You can get the all-chapter access passcode by making a ko-fi.com donation of £6, the price of a London coffee and croissant. This is to make the book content and advice available as soon as possible for whoever needs and wants it quickly. Scroll to find out how.

Ebook and print formats to follow soon

The eBook and print on demand formats will follow later in the year. We are still collecting feedback from selected early readers, so the content may change slightly in the final print set, published version.

How to get early access

Include your Twitter handle on your Ko-fi donation message, or after your donation send us a direct message on Twitter @cakecontent, as we’ll need to send you the webbook all-chapter access passcode privately. We aim to do this within 24 hours of your donation, and will check for new orders at around 6pm each day.

We’ll try to make it possible for everyone who donates on Ko-fi.com for the webbook preview to get a discount code for the eBook but can’t guarantee that will happen. So, if you don’t need it straightaway and want to hang on for the eBook please do, it should be out by the end of November.

View the chapter outline on the Pressbooks website.

Micro-reviews welcomed!

Feel free to tweet your reactions about our intranet content book if you take up the early access webbook offer. Please tag us, we’re @cakecontent.

Or if you fancy writing a longer review on your blog or Medium we would of course be very grateful, they will help spread word of this user-centred design intranet content resource more widely.

The content designer role: a definition and ideal way of working

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Conversations last week led me to share the basic fundamentals of the content design role, as intended when it was created in 2012: a content designer is a designer on a multi-disciplinary team.

Worth noting which words the organisation who created the discipline included, and excluded, from the role name:

1. They included the word ‘designer‘, to highlight that the role involved design skill and is a design role.

2. They excluded ‘user experience‘, as one of their organisational mantras was that user experience is everyone on the team’s responsibility.


An extended definition

This intends to offer flexibility, while also providing a baseline of the fundamentals needed for a content designer to work effectively.

”A content designer is a designer who is part of a user-centred, multi-disciplinary team on a project, product, service or programme.

They are responsible for conveying information to users.

Their focus is presenting information that users need clearly, inclusively and accessibly for all, so that it can be absorbed and understood quickly, and thoroughly. To do this they research user needs and language, then use, adapt, and design with:

  • words
  • format
  • layout
  • structure
  • governance
  • strategy

They test their designs, and iterate them based on analysis of user research insights.

They are an integral part of the design and development team attached to a product or service, from the beginning, ideally from the very beginning, to the end, and need to be involved in all product-relevant discussions and meetings.

They should be able to continue iterating content elements, based on user feedback, after the product or service is live.”

– Lizzie Bruce, 2020

This is a baseline description, and the role flexes.


My content design background

I feel in a position to put forward a full definition of the content designer role as I:

• worked in content at the original organisation before and after content design was introduced
• took one of the first ever courses in it
• worked in, introduced and promoted it in 9 other external, cross-sector organisations, including: law, retail, transport, education and charity
• am a consultant for Content Design London, founded by the person who was head of content at the originating organisation when the term was created
• have trained and mentored content designers
• co-researched a paper on the value of content design to business
• keep up to date with peer discussion of content design and role of content designer across industry


Non-ideal and ideal ways for a content designer to work

The skills of a content designer are not always understood by the organisation that employs them. It’s best for a content designer to be embedded on a project from very early on. I’ve written about the benefits and insights gained from involving a content designer from the discovery phase.

The one and only

Sometimes a content designer will work unsupported by a multi-disciplinary team, for example in an organisation new to user-centred design. That means they take on all the responsibilities of all the roles in an ideal multi-disciplinary service or product team: carrying out the user research and service design by themself, as well as the interaction design and web page development, or they may work with an external development company, who, though then working on the same product could not be said to be on the same team.

They may even be the product owner and delivery manager, too, as well as having to translate technical language into plain English and create visual design elements. This is not the ideal way for a content designer to work.

No ”i“ in team

Sometimes a content designer will work as part of a core product or service design team, which will also have a dedicated user researcher, product owner and delivery manager, and may have various of the following: service or product designer, interaction designer, technical writer, graphic designer, accessibility assessor.

All roles in a multi-disciplinary team enrich the product or service’s design and development with their unique expertise. They find out what is right for the user, based on usability evidence (rather than who is right, based on hierarchy or voice volume). This is the ideal way for a content designer to work.

Pulled in too many directions

Sometimes a content designer will work in more than one multi-disciplinary team on more that one product or service at a time. The higher the number of different, disparate projects a content designer is working on, the less they will be able to delve deeply into any one product or service’s complexities and user needs, and the greater the amount of context switch they will be subjected to which can carry a high cognitive load and reduce effectiveness and efficiency.

Working on more than a couple of or a very few products at the same time is not an ideal way for a content designer to work. The only exception is where the products are directly co-related and knowledge of one brings greater context to another.


Further reading

Why editors need to design, Content Design London
What we mean when we talk about content design, GOV.UK
Content designer, GOV.UK
Content design, GOV.UK
What is content design? GOV.UK
Why multidisciplinary teams are good, Medium
“Why do you need a content designer? The words just appear, right?”, Digital Drum
Get a head start on digital projects include content from the discovery phase, GatherContent