The Firefox UX content team has a new name that better reflects how we work.
Co-authored with Betsy Mikel
Hello. We’re the Firefox Content Design team. We’ve actually met before, but our name then was the Firefox Content Strategy team.
Why did we change our name to Content Design, you ask? Well, for a few (good) reasons.
It better captures what we do
We are designers, and our material is content. Content can be words, but it can be other things, too, like layout, hierarchy, iconography, and illustration. Words are one of the foundational elements in our design toolkit — similar to color or typography for visual designers — but it’s not always written words, and words aren’t created in a vacuum. Our practice is informed by research and an understanding of the holistic user journey. The type of content, and how content appears, is something we also create in close partnership with UX designers and researchers.
“Then, instead of saying ‘How shall I write this?’, you say, ‘What content will best meet this need?’ The answer might be words, but it might also be other things: pictures, diagrams, charts, links, calendars, a series of questions and answers, videos, addresses, maps […] and many more besides. When your job is to decide which of those, or which combination of several of them, meets the user’s need — that’s content design.”
— Sarah Richards defined the content design practice in her seminal work, Content Design
It helps others understand how to work with us
While content strategy accurately captures the full breadth of what we do, this descriptor is better understood by those doing content strategy work or very familiar with it. And, as we know from writing product copy, accuracy is not synonymous with clarity.
Strategy can also sound like something we create on our own and then lob over a fence. In contrast, design is understood as an immersive and collaborative practice, grounded in solving user problems and business goals together.
Content design is thus a clearer descriptor for a broader audience. When we collaborate cross-functionally (with product managers, engineers, marketing), it’s important they understand what to expect from our contributions, and how and when to engage us in the process. We often get asked: “When is the right time to bring in content? And the answer is: “The same time you’d bring in a designer.”
We’re aligning with the field
Content strategy is a job title often used by the much larger field of marketing content strategy or publishing. There are website content strategists, SEO content strategists, and social media content strategists, all who do different types of content-related work. Content design is a job title specific to product and user experience.
And, making this change is in keeping with where the field is going. Organizations like Slack, Netflix, Intuit, and IBM also use content design, and practice leaders Shopify and Facebook recently made the change, articulating reasons that we share and echo here.
It distinguishes the totality of our work from copywriting
Writing interface copy is about 10% of what we do. While we do write words that appear in the product, it’s often at the end of a thoughtful design process that we participate in or lead.
We’re still doing all the same things we did as content strategists, and we are still strategic in how we work (and shouldn’t everyone be strategic in how they work, anyway?) but we are choosing a title that better captures the unseen but equally important work we do to arrive at the words.
It’s the best option for us, but there’s no ‘right’ option
Job titles are tricky, especially for an emerging field like content design. The fact that titles are up for debate and actively evolving shows just how new our profession is. While there have been people creating product content experiences for a while, the field is really starting to now professionalize and expand. For example, we just got our first dedicated content design and UX writing conference this year with Button.
Content strategy can be a good umbrella term for the activities of content design and UX writing. Larger teams might choose to differentiate more, staffing specialized strategists, content designers, and UX writers. For now, content design is the best option for us, where we are, and the context and organization in which we work.
“There’s no ‘correct’ job title or description for this work. There’s not a single way you should contribute to your teams or help others understand what you do.”
— Metts & Welfle, Writing is Designing
We’re documenting our name change publicly because, as our fellow content designers know, words matter. They reflect but also shape reality.
We feel a bit self-conscious about this declaration, and maybe that’s because we are the newest guests at the UX party — so new that we are still writing, and rewriting, our name tag. So, hi, it’s nice to see you (again). We’re happy to be here.