Write for Real People

Culture makes a difference
Reading a story about the NewYorker.com# redesign [via] in Fast Company#, we can draw some parallels to what makes a site successful — and that is what is typically behind the scenes.

Because a great experience often results both from what you put into it and what you take away.

This means eliminating attrition both for staffers and internal teams so they can do things better:

  • update the tools: in this case, the content management system (CMS) so it can handle increased workload — the editors and producers of NewYorker.com now have a more robust, user-friendly CMS, can publish more frequently
  • train/retrain the front line: everyone is in customer support when we talk about experience — this was not mentioned in the story, yet I assume it was part of the refresh
  • achieve higher productivity due to tool update and mastery: leading to greater job satisfaction and possibly creativity –from the first two, it is easy to infer the third bullet
  • learn about your actual audience: it may not be who you thought it was, including reading habits — and this could lead to expanding your actual audience

Different types of readers have different metabolisms, Mitchell says. A person who reads the New Yorker in print might primarily do so on weekends, while someone who reads on the tablet might only read it in bed at night.

  • adapt brand guidelines to both platform and reader type/situation: tactically, it means more photography, more interactivity, and louder typography on the web; take it a level above and it means creating a peaceful haven — this leads to digitizing the business to the core, or understanding how to design an organization that delivers a better experience online
  • put a quality experience front and center: "We had good data that showed that if people get through a story from beginning to end, they're more likely to talk about it, and therefore more likely to share it," — by organizing copy and visuals in a way that make it easier to enjoy through reading, in short by making the product better, they are earning involvement one consequence of which is sharing; the main consequence being preference

Free cognitive load and you create energy, which then translates into supporting a better reader experience.


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.