Weeknotes, 8th September

Simplicity, accuracy, charity blogs, conference talks: my week in review.

Let’s just pretend that it hasn’t been 4 months since I last wrote my weeknotes, and jump straight in:

Balancing simplicity and accuracy

I’m currently working on a content design project with complex subject matter on a niche topic. The user research I did for the project showed that people wanted straightforward explanations of the concepts and legalities involved – no surprise there.

The subject matter experts (SMEs) are lawyers. They’re incredibly knowledgeable about the topic and – of course – incredibly precise when it comes to how things are worded.

With the first few pieces of writing, we’ve been trying to find out balance on this tightrope between simplicity and accuracy. It’s partly about coming up with guidelines for how to talk about certain things and a list of dos and don’ts, and partly about building trust with SMEs/stakeholders.

Some of the things we’ve been doing are:

  • Getting lots of SME input at the briefing and outlining stage
  • Making sure they understand the content types and content design approaches we’re using and why we’re using them
  • Not talking about reading ages – which stoked some fears about dumbing down – and instead being very clear about the audience for each piece of content and reasons why that audience needs clear and simple copy
  • Not editing out legal terminology, but explaining it the first time it’s used – it does users a disservice if we don’t include terminology they’ll run into elsewhere
  • If the answer to a question is ‘it depends’ we don’t open with that. We write about the thing that is most likely to apply, then immediately follow it up with the exceptions

Finishing my study of charity blogs

I’ve also been putting the finishing touches on my study of 50 charity blogs. I started this early in the year, after starting to feel curious about the state of blogging in the charity sector right now. I looked at 50 charities, to see if they have a blog, what they use it for, who writes it, and more.

It’s taken me months to complete because I’ve had so much client work to do this summer. But it’s finally ready to publish: it will go live on my website on Monday, and there will be a summary in the 10 Things for non-profits email on Monday. Expect trends, common issues, and tips.

Conference talk preparations

I’ve also been preparing for two upcoming events that I’m speaking at:

  1. AMA’s Digital Copywriting Day on 20th September, where I’ll be speaking about the ‘why’ of content, and how to craft a content straregy.
  2. Button Conference on 16th-19th October. I had a feedback call with Kristina Halvorson this week, and then started a big edit of my keynote ‘Thriving in the everything, everywhere, all at once of content’. This is a new talk for me, and I have a lot of big feelings about the subject matter. (PS If you want to come, you can save $100 with the code POPE100)

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