On Interface Design is Copywriting

In his post, Interface Design is Copywriting, Joshua Porter says:

I humbly submit that there is no single element more important to your interface than the copywriting. There is nothing that makes or breaks a positive experience more than the simple set of words that you choose to communicate with. In a world in which we have to simplify as much as possible, nothing matters more than the small vocabulary you end up with in your final work.

Amen to that.

Announcing: Contents

We need a place where content strategy conversations can take place, where we can share our ideas, tools, processes, practices, and experiences. This incisive community needs a place to talk and learn and debate and share. Erin, Ethan, Erik, and I have put the coffee on and we can’t wait for you to get here.

I’m beyond proud to announce Contents, an online magazine devoted to content strategy, online publishing, and editorial mischief.

We’ll publish essays, articles, as well as point you to the latest thinking, events, and job opportunities in the field.

Publication starts in the fall, 2011.

Check out our temporary HQ, where you can learn more about how to contribute.

Follow Contents on Twitter.

ALA 332: Designing Fun and Web Governance

Designing Fun by Debra Levin Gelman

How do you define fun on the web? Fun means different things to different people. Debra Levin Gelman says that to create fun, we need to allow users to create, play, and explore. Learn how to help your client define fun, rank its importance on their site, and user test it to create a delightful experience, regardless of whether you’re designing for suits and ties or the sandbox crowd. Read Designing Fun by Debra Levin Gelman.

Web Governance: Becoming an Agent of Change

Shipping is easy, making real change is hard. To do meaningful web work, we need to educate clients on how their websites influence their business and the legal, regulatory, brand, and financial risks they face without strong web governance. Learn why web governance is important to us as web professionals and how to influence your clients to think carefully about how to align their websites to their business strategy. Read
Web Governance: Becoming an Agent of Change by Jonathan Kahn.

Great service during downtime: 37Signals

Yesterday morning, while writing blurbs and snapshots for the upcoming issue of A List Apart, I needed to look up a fact in Basecamp. (We’ve used Basecamp, 37Signals’ project management application, to manage each issue as long as I can remember.) Typically, uptime is fantastic. Uptime is so good, that when I experienced a blip yesterday, I assumed my internet connection was experiencing difficulty.

A quick Twitter search revealed I was not alone; Basecamp was indeed down. I tweeted the fact that the downtime was unusual. Note that my tweet is statement, sans @reply to 37Signals. Within nine minutes, I received an @reply from 37Signals’ twitter account, with an apology for the downtime and a link I could follow to keep up on the situation. They took the extra step to search Twitter for mentions about the problem and took the extra effort to reply my mention of the downtime. High five!

Things will go wrong. It’s what you do when thing go wrong—how you handle it—that sets your customer service apart from your competitors.

They fixed the problem within an hour. Shortly after, I received another personal @reply from 37Signals to let me know all was well and to apologize for the inconvenience:

So. Nicely. Done.

Hurdles and Robots: Boxbe Customer Support

Recently, I approached Boxbe with a customer support inquiry. The customer experience was disappointing for several reasons:

  • Upon discovering their support email address, I wrote to them with my inquiry. Right away, they set low expectations with site copy that indicates support is limited and that you can expect to hear from them within 48 hours.
  • I received an auto-response signed by Boxbe Support, the first line of which counsels me to read all the way to the bottom of their impersonal reply. It contained a series of links to what I’d imagine are their most frequently asked questions, none of which answered my query. Reading to the bottom, the note instructs me to write to a second Boxbe support email address to actually get my query into their ticketing system.

Since Boxbe touts themselves as a method to end email overload, I find it ironic that their first reply is a disappointing auto-responder sent by a robot. I wonder what percentage of queries get solved by this auto-response, which acts as a hurdle to actually getting into their customer support queue.

  • Upon writing to the second customer support email, I received another auto response, with the same links as the first auto response. At this point, Boxbe sets customer expectations very low, as the second line says “As you know, our support is limited.” They also mention that users can expect a response within 72 hours.
  • I did receive a reply (on the same day, which was awesome). They answered my question. I assume it was written by a human, but it was impossible to tell as it was signed by Boxbe support. One might assume that the company is run by robots.