How can a born-digital, remote project streamline its content and messaging as it develops?
Project Lockdown (PL) is a responsive web and mobile interface that gives a clear overview of existing NPIs (Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions) implemented by governments across the globe to reduce the spread of COVID-19. With features such as country-specific details and a time slider to view the change in interventions implemented over time, it provides its users with tools to easily analyze and assess the social and political effects of different pandemic response measures and monitor their impact on human and digital rights.
Project Lockdown was created at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and formed completely remotely, with contributors from around the world. This led to some inconsistency in their initial communications and platform copy. The initiative needed a cohesive and consistent writing style to define their digital presence as they grew.
March - June 2020
View Project Lockdown contributors here
Revised UX copy, created content style guide, outlined communication TOV
Category Winner - EUvsVirus Hackathon
Defining a writing style and communication strategy for scalability.
I was approached to help Project Lockdown revise their existing copy and help strategize their written communications moving forward. I conducted a content audit, defined the project's tone-of-voice, and created a content style guide. I also wrote the copy and clarified the language Project Lockdown used during their participation in the EUvsVirus Hackathon, where the project was a category winner in April 2020.
DEFINING THE USERS
Clarifying who the target audience for the platform is to best identify how to connect with them.
Before diving into any content strategy or style guide creation, I clearly identified Project Lockdown's target users to better understand their needs and goals.
Based on these target groups, Project Lockdown users were searching for:
It was important that Project Lockdown's voice align with these goals.
At this stage I started off the content style guide by outlining Project Lockdown's values, which were instrumental in guiding their writing style.
Taking a closer look at how existing copy was utilized.
As a starting point for identifying how Project Lockdown should sound, I began by revising the existing BETA platform copy.
VOICE AND TONE
How should Project Lockdown come across through their digital copy?
The voice of Project Lockdown remains the same, while the tone can change a bit depending on the subject matter being addressed. To avoid confusing messaging, the following is what PL should not sound like, no matter the context:
Playful - The subject matter of PL is serious, and social media communications should respect this
Witty - PL aims to provide information and empower users through knowledge - there’s no need to infuse messages with superfluous personality that doesn’t add to this objective
Persuasive - PL is a neutral, bi-partisan platform and it’s crucial that social media communications make this clear
After discussions with the rest of the team I outlined voice characteristics that prioritized impartiality and information.
USING THE TOV
Implementing the TOV in Project Lockdown's social media communications.
Twitter was the main social media channel that Project Lockdown wanted to focus on. I created a 'Twitter best practices' section of the style guide to make it easy for anyone on the team to draft tweets and maintain voice consistency. The basic rules outlined in the style guide were:
Use active voice instead of passive
Be mindful of all users, who have varying prior knowledge and come from different backgrounds
Keep it simple and consistent
Maintain a neutral, unbiased voice
To further clarify how the TOV would look in Twitter communications, I included examples for reference.
Evaluating outcomes and assessing the next steps.
Documenting the TOV guidelines and communication best practices has provided a lot of value to the Project Lockdown team as the platform expands and other social media channels are explored. They also helped me write the EUvsVirus Hackathon pitch in a style that reflected the values and goals of the project.
Having a centralized guide made it much easier for content contributors and UX designers to quickly reference rather than refer to me each time a copy question came up. This made the general workflow much more efficient for the whole team.
The style guide is a living document, and I look forward to updating it as the project evolves. Moving forward, I'd like to incorporate more user research to even further align the project's messaging with the intended audience. Project Lockdown is currently designing an informational website about the platform itself, and I'm currently responsible for its UX writing.