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A plea, to everyone – from content designers, everywhere

Content design is an actual thing It sounds obvious, but content design is a real thing. Before trying to advocate what content designers are, it’s probably easier to explain what they’re not.

Source: A plea, to everyone – from content designers, everywhere

Thanks to Rahel Bailie, who retweeted this article on Twitter.

In the ever-changing world of technical communications, resource needs morph constantly. It’s not enough to be just a technical writer or just a–anything anymore. It’s bad enough that other professional disciplines have co-opted job titles from the tech comm world like “content strategist” when they really want a marketing strategist. Or calling us something that isn’t right. For example, I had the title of “Senior Copywriter” when I either did content strategy or UX writing, not really copywriting.

I like this title of “Content Designer” based on the description. I would like to get more involved in a position that’s like this. However, how long will it be before UX designers or even visual or graphic designers start to co-opt the description for themselves?

One of the difficulties of being a technical communicator is that job titles or descriptions aren’t always clear–especially these days. Something that’s a little more succinct would be nice. For example, it’s usually pretty clear what the requirements for a doctor, a mechanic, a financial advisor, or even a programmer. It used to be clear what various technical communicator positions were. It doesn’t seem to be that way anymore. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s good in that we are not limited in doing just one thing–we’re allowed to go out of bounds and explore and be multi-disciplinary. At the same time, it can be bad because those multiple disciplines can be endless, and sometimes finding what fits your multiple disciplines doesn’t align in many places, making it hard to find work.

What do you think of the concept of “content design”, or the idea of tech comm job titles having…issues? Include your comments below.


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Blast From The Past – Volume 3: Interior Design Influence on…Tech Comm and Social Media?

For this week, I decided that I would post another one of my “Blast from the Past” entries from my graduate school blog. When I go back to review these, many of which were written when I was just starting to understand what technical communications were all about, I see some pretty decent reflections.

I’ve lost direct contact with the person in this entry, as life moves on, and Twitter exploded, but I still learned a lot from the experience. Perhaps I still need to follow-up on the blog entry I proposed at the end based on his books! He’s still out there and making the most of social media and media at large, and has always been ahead of the curve in this regard, continuing to make the most of both marketing communications as well as instructional design with his television shows and now instructional videos on his website.

Enjoy this entry that was originally from March 20, 2010, originally titled, “Interior Design Influence on…Web Design?”:

Recently, I’ve struck up a Twitter friendship with renowned interior designer, Christopher Lowell. He is a very thoughtful, sweet guy. He also posts these great dishes he’s having for dinner that make me hungry! But I digress…

Christopher has always been a little bit ahead of the curve when it comes to media and the wave of the future in communications. He was revolutionary in breaking down the basics of interior design in a user-friendly way, and bringing it to the public on the then-new media outlet of cable television. Between his shows and his books, which eventually branched out into his own product lines of furniture, fabrics and other home accessories, his goal has always been to make interior design about making a home, and making it with your own special stamp. All these years later, he still has that goal of bringing things that seem so lofty down to earth for all of us to enjoy.

One of the things I like about corresponding with him through Twitter is that he really seems to be exactly who you see on TV and read in his books. He’s down to earth, he can be silly, but he really does care about important issues and cares a lot about other people and really using social media as a means of communications. I know that I’ve certainly enjoyed getting to know him little bit by little bit.

So, today he posted on Twitter that he had a new blog post, in which he talked about how he likes how reality TV is starting to be used more constructively, and used Jamie Oliver‘s show about how Jamie is trying to change the diets of school lunches to more wholesome foods for kids as a good example.  He segueways into how he feels that the internet is what the next big wave of information and entertainment will be– more so than it is now, much like cable TV was in its infancy. He alluded to the fact that part of the reason we don’t see him on TV (cable or otherwise) much these days is that he’s exploring these new media. He wrote, “As we continue to open new portals and refine new media platforms, you can bet, I’ll be there, doing what I do best.” That seems appropriate for a guy who has always been on the cutting edge of things.

So what does this have to do with technical writing? Well, a lot. You see, I feel inspired by what Christopher has been talking about, because it’s not only about what he’s doing, but where the future in technology is going, and technical writing is part of that.  I’ve thought of two projects that he’s inspired me to do, but I don’t have the reason to do it other than “just because I feel like it” at the moment, so since I’m busy enough, I’ll have to wait until I have a little more time to work on them, or can work it into a school project for my e-Portfolio. The first idea was just to interview him, and get more details of where he thinks internet media is headed, and the sorts of projects he wants to do, or sees happening. You know, get inside the head of one of the big “movers and shakers” to understand future trends. The other idea is to write a piece called, “The Seven Layers of Technical Writing” or “The Seven Layers of Web Design,” or some similar theme, as Christopher was the one who revolutionized the idea of the “seven layers” of interior design. (Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if he invented the Seven-Layer Dip!) In my mind, it would be an article that would show, especially for the newbie technical writer, that by sticking to some basic rules of thumb, like the Seven Layer of Design, that you too can master what it takes to be a technical writer.  I’d really have to think it through, because I’m sure it’s not that easy to whittle anything down that has so many variables, like tech writing, like web design, or interior design.

Kudos to you, Mr. Lowell, for giving me some inspiration outside the (technical) box, and getting a new dialogue started in my head…