The Power of Three - How to blend UX, design and content

The world of content marketing and its myriad of blogs, white papers and evergreens may all be well-established, but when it comes to implementing content strategy within digital design, its presence is less pervasive.

Quite often, copywriters are outsourced or are only utilised at fragmented stages of a project. But this is changing. Organisations that opt to include a copywriter from the beginning and integrate them at every step stand to be rewarded with much more than just better deliverables.

The power of three

Illustration credit: Emily Trotter

Why do you need a content strategy?

Words are powerful. The language we use shapes our experiences, interpretations and interactions with the world. But away from language theory, it’s also a tremendously effective tool for branding.

Values, products and an organisation’s public-facing persona cannot be properly conveyed without appropriate language. Think about it: a fun, youthful brand can only appear to be so if that personality is present in its diction. Effective branding and tone of voice guidelines don’t happen accidentally.

They require a great deal of contemplation, and an incisive and deliberate strategy.

Just as garish or inharmonious imagery can disrupt and distract, so can badly written content. The last thing you want in a product is a cacophony of words, or copy that reads like someone shoved Lorem ipsum into Google Translate and pasted it in. Inconsistency in tone of voice damages branding and can dissuade users from completing their journey. Like so many of the behind-the-screen details that go into UX design, readers may not be privy to the granular aspects, but they will certainly notice their absence.

This isn’t to say that every project necessitates a team of copywriters and UXers diligently poring over TOV documents. Nor do we need to create a hierarchy of practitioners that champions one discipline over another. Quite the opposite, really. What we need is a flexible, collaborative approach. This is where the Power of three comes in.


Working in the power of three

Here at Nomensa, we talk a great deal about the Power of Two; our designs are often created by an unstoppable pair comprised of a UX designer and a UX consultant. The Power of Three, however, includes a cross-discipline approach that combines UX, design and content expertise. This way, each member of the team is bolstered by the others’ knowledge.

Content writers can do more than just keep an eye on nuances in TOV and provide grammar checks for sneaky spelling mistakes. Writers can imbue meaning and formulate a narrative around a project or digital experience, as well as apply structure to proposals and presentations.

This approach works in everyone's favour. For instance, writers – and creatives in general – tend to have a habit of getting sucked into their craft and need to be reeled in at times. Just as designers can go rogue, writers can also get lost in the process or have their research steered by their own interest areas. Working in a supportive and collaborative team means that creatives can keep each other check – and provide a gentle nudge whenever anyone loses sight of the end-user.

On a practical level, when content is an afterthought, designs can become clumpy and incongruous. It may be a familiar scenario for some; weeks or months are spent creating an excellent digital experience, only for the template to crumble once the copy is keyed in. Conversely, all may seem well until it emerges a few months down the line that the client has replaced the copy to the detriment of the wider design. Focusing on copy alongside UX design (and allowing each to feed into and inform the other) ensures that the final product is cohesive and, crucially, sustainable.

Similarly, projects are often delayed because the copy isn’t adopted early enough – or worse, isn’t thought about at all. Failing to assign enough time results in what’s known as Content Delay Syndrome. This encompasses last-minute rushes to upload and adapt content, causing the quality to dwindle and inconsistencies to appear.

The latter shortfall is particularly damning, because consistency fosters trust and without it, users will spend their money elsewhere. This ripples across the company; project managers must them grapple with stressed out clients and strained budgets, as they try to reallocate time and resources to meet now-unrealistic KPIs.

To frame it in another way, incorporating copy from the beginning ensures that client expectations are realistic and that wireframes are as accurate as possible. After all, it’s easier for both agencies and clients to get on board with a project when the content is included in the proof-of-concept or prototype, simply because they will have greater grasp of what will actually be delivered.

Practically, this means assembling a team of UXers, designers and writers in a room and leaving them to research and build a strategy together. Supply them with a pile of post-it notes and a couple whiteboards, and let them work it out using the unique dexterity each department brings to the table.

Creating a design-driven culture


Collaboration means the project, along with its challenges and solutions, belongs to the entire team. As a recent article by Gather Content argues: “There needs to be unity in a project, and this unity is driven by content.” There is no step of design that can be shoehorned in post-production, and it’s impossible to deliver a great user experience if it’s populated by poor or contradictory copy. When done right, content can be the common thread underpinning various practices; amalgamating disciplines with a singular voice. 

We can’t approach strategy like a game of pass the product, wherein each department does their task before handing it to the next stage – this is how mistakes slip in and details are overlooked. By implementing a truly agile and collaborative approach, we can minimise these empty spaces and reclaim the no man’s land between departments. This forces us to think differently and approach challenges from a fresh perspective.

When teamwork and empathy form the cornerstones of a strategy, we can pool our expertise and learn from each other. This fosters organic upskilling and knowledge sharing, and will ultimately deliver stronger, better and more immersive digital experiences.

If you’d like to learn more about Nomensa's content strategy services and how we use the Power of Three to craft inventive and engaging digital experiences, get in touch via hello@nomensa.com or give us a call on +44 (0)117 929 7333.

Related reading