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How to make software human and relatable

Laura Parker
March 19, 2020

How to make software human and relatable

Laura Parker

March 19, 2020

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  1. @LauraParkerUX
    How to make software human and relatable

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  2. @LauraParkerUX
    • Laura Parker 

    — Content Designer at HMRC

    — UX Writer

    • Questions

    — Use the BlueJean chat box moderated by Rachel 

    — Post your questions after the talk in the Write The Docs slack channel #north-england

    — Tweet me @LauraParkerUX

    • Please mute your microphone

    • All research is linked so you can explore in your own time

    • Slides will be posted on speaker deck afterwards

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  3. @LauraParkerUX
    Problem: how do you make software
    human and relatable?

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  4. @LauraParkerUX

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  5. @LauraParkerUX
    Keep a beginner’s mind
    Don’t assume the user knows anything

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  6. @LauraParkerUX
    What’s a beginner’s mind?
    • We create new things all the time 

    — but we forget what it's like to be a new user

    • A new user might be anxious about using your product 

    — give them everything they need and nothing more

    • We know too much (curse of knowledge) 

    — the more you know, the further you are from the beginner’s perspective

    • Users have existing expectations and behaviours

    — don’t assume users will find your product intuitive if they do the same thing differently
    on other apps/websites

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  7. @LauraParkerUX
    How we read
    • Our cognitive load (mental effort) increases 11% for every 100 words

    • Some people bounce around when they read online and anticipate words and fill them in

    • Your brain can drop up to 30% of the text and still understand

    • People with some learning disabilities read letter for letter, they do not bounce around like
    other users
    • People with moderate learning disabilities can understand sentences of 5 to 8 words without
    difficulty so keep sentences short

    • GOV.UK recommends you write for a 9 year old reading age

    — Jakob Nielsen, How Do Users Read
    — Sarah Richards, Content Design

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  8. @LauraParkerUX
    Our eyes don’t see every letter in a word or every word in a sentence. Our eyes skip
    along the text in small jumps called saccades.

    After each saccade, our brain takes a snapshot and arranges the letters into words.
    Those pauses are called fixations.
    — Jost Hochuli, Detail in Typography

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  9. @LauraParkerUX
    Empathy v humour
    Writing with flavour

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  10. @LauraParkerUX
    Why you should get to the point
    • Make it easier for everyone to read your content
    • People with poor internet connection

    • Busy people

    • Physical injuries

    • People with children

    • Roughly 11.9 million people are living with a disability (1 in 5 people or

    “Getting to the point quickly has less to do with intelligence and more
    to do with time and respect.”
    — Sarah Richards, Content Design

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  11. @LauraParkerUX
    Not all disability is visible

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  12. @LauraParkerUX

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  13. @LauraParkerUX

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  14. @LauraParkerUX

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  15. @LauraParkerUX
    Balancing empathy and humour
    • Have a moment with the reader 

    — use empathy to find when a user is having a moment, and be a part of it

    • Keep a beginner’s mind

    — skip the what and go directly to the why

    • Use simple, everyday language 

    — it helps everyone, especially those with a visual impairment, dyslexia or anxiety

    • People don’t find the same things funny

    — humour is risky

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  16. @LauraParkerUX
    What is information anxiety?
    • There are lots of moments of doubt and anxiety to deal with,
    especially when using a product or service you’re not familiar with

    • “Do I remember my password? Did that web app really save my
    changes? Was my shared document sent? Where did that
    notification disappear to? How do I get it back?”
    • It's our responsibility to make this process easy to understand and
    delight users, as long as it doesn't get in the way of clarity 


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  17. @LauraParkerUX
    What is information anxiety?
    • Some examples 

    — time limits and countdown timers (Netflix and BBC
    iPlayer provide options to disable the next episode
    countdown timer)

    Monzo spending alert
    Hermes chatbot

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  18. @LauraParkerUX
    Know your audience

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  19. @LauraParkerUX
    Who are you talking to?
    • To understand your audience you should know: 

    — how they behave, what they’re interested in or worried about - so your writing will
    catch their attention and answer their questions 

    — their vocabulary - so that you can use the same terms and phrases they’ll use to
    search for content

    • Check Google Trends and forums to see how people are talking about your
    product or service 


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  20. @LauraParkerUX
    Writing for specialists
    • Use plain English 

    — according to GOV.UK research, people understand complex specialist language, but
    do not want to read it if there’s an alternative

    • Technical terms

    — technical terms are not considered jargon but you should explain what they mean

    • People with the greatest expertise tend to have the most to read 

    — make sure your content is helpful and easy to scan 


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  21. @LauraParkerUX
    Working with designers
    Your most important working relationship

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  22. @LauraParkerUX
    • You share the same problems 

    — “I need answers to this, this and this before I can start.”

    • You ask (roughly) the same questions

    — “Who am I writing/designing for? What’s the purpose? Brand guidelines?”

    • And, you make things together

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  23. @LauraParkerUX
    Most designers have never worked with a
    writer. It’s down to us to get the ball rolling.

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  24. @LauraParkerUX
    How to work with designers
    • Give designers your copy in advance 

    — think about the design deadline too

    • Try using a different word processor 

    — most designers don’t use MS Word every day, look for alternatives

    • Ask for feedback (content crits and design labs)

    — feedback can only improve your work

    • Celebrate their moments of greatness 

    — some designers can write well 

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  25. @LauraParkerUX
    Problem: how do you make software
    human and relatable?

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  26. @LauraParkerUX
    • Keep a beginner’s mind

    — what’s obvious to you won’t be the same for your audience

    — make your audience feel less anxious by using high frequency words

    • Be empathetic and cautious with humour

    — be inclusive and write with plain English 

    — humour is risky, especially if it gets in the way of clarity

    • Know your audience

    — understand who is reading your content 

    — use words they use, not words you think they use
    • Work better with designers 

    — it’s not them and us, we’re in it together

    — pair up, host design clinics and content crits
    The answer

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  27. @LauraParkerUX
    GOV.UK standards
    • Use specific verbs 

    — ‘Connect’ or ‘save’ are more meaningful than ‘set up’ or ‘manage’

    • Check your language

    — use Google Trends and forums to check for terms people search for
    • Use ‘today,’ ‘yesterday’ or ‘tomorrow’ instead of a date

    — people don’t use the date when they refer to the day before the present day

    • Avoid long blocks of text

    — look at your work on a mobile to check spacing

    • Use inclusive language 

    — words to use and avoid when writing about disability 


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  28. @LauraParkerUX
    People to follow

    Andrew Schmidt (senior product writer at Slack): https://www.andrewschmidt.net 

    Jared Spool (UX genius): https://www.uie.com @jmspool

    Craig Wright (tech writer): https://straygoat.co.uk

    Erika Hall (designer): https://muledesign.com @mulegirl

    Caio Braga ([product designer) https://caioab.com @caioab

    Paul Boag (UX expert): https://boagworld.com @boagworld

    Links to click 

    Readability Guidelines: https://readabilityguidelines.myxwiki.org

    Web Content Accessibility Guidelines: https://www.w3.org

    Rules of Effective UX Writing: https://uxplanet.org/16-rules-of-effective-ux-writing-2a20cf85fdbf

    The Unusable podcast: https://podcast.theunusable.com

    Content Design London: http://contentdesign.london

    Microsoft accessibility kit: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/style-guide/welcome/

    UK Home Office accessibility posters: https://github.com/UKHomeOffice/posters/blob/master/accessibility/

    UX Collective: https://uxdesign.cc

    UK disability facts and figures: http://www.craigabbott.co.uk/accessibility-is-not-an-edge-case

    GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/guidance/content-design/writing-for-gov-uk

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  29. @LauraParkerUX

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  30. @LauraParkerUX



    [email protected]



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