PROJECT: COPY VISION & REVIEW PROCESS PITCH
Client: All Disney Projects and Brands
Roles: content strategist, project lead copywriter, researcher, UX lead
Audience: Middle managers, directors, VPs, and SVPs
Objective: Offer suggestions to improve production pipeline and increase copywriters voice in the process. Reduce, or eliminate, disembodied copy documents.
- Identify the process problems.
- Convince others there were problems.
- The pipeline had been set since the beginning of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Online; change can be difficult.
Results: A more streamlined production process, a more integrated creative environment because of an increase in communication across departments (creative, tech, business, legal, etc), and a reduction in the number of copy revision cycle—helpful, due to challenging budgets.
“Dina is a very detailed thinker who always tries to look ahead at new ideas and concepts that we can incorporate. She accepts the challenge to think out of the box and like to think through the details to make sure we are dotting our “i”s and crossing our “t”s.”
in others' words
“You have always understood the Guest experience, but this year had the opportunity to really step up and affect major sections of our sites that were unsatisfactory. With your creativity, leadership, and understanding, these projects have become sterling examples of great user experiences which also achieve our business objectives. Your proactivity in developing new templates has been unparalleled.
“The collaborative method involving earlier writing
and involvement of the business seems very beneficial.”
—BJ M., Copy Manager
"As a Site Produce at WDPRO, it’s a tremendous pleasure to work with such a talented, accomplished copywriter as Dina. In addition to simply being an extraordinary writer, she has an uncanny skill when it comes to understanding how to give voice to a brand. I see this almost every day as she creates unique and engaging copy for the highly visible Disneyland site where she has created copy for Entertainment, Attraction, Special Offer and many other pages across the site”
—Victoria C., Website Producer
While working on large projects like My Disney Vacation and WDW Next Gen, I was frustrated with the limitations of the copy templates & creative review process——inefficient, difficult to track revisions, disembodied from the context of the design.
The Almogavars warriors would shout “Desperta Ferro!” ("Awaken Iron!") as they struck their swords to stones to cause sparks before they began a battle. Walt Whitman had his barbaric yawp. I had 'copy before comps!' and 'copy in context!'
Copy before comps.
Copy in context.
copy vision & review process pitch
- To have each team member, from all creative disciplines, contribute to the creative process at the beginning (brainstorming, white-boarding sessions) of each project.
- To write (draft) copy before comps.
- To present content in templates that place copy in context.
- To test actual copy during UT sessions.
On many projects, copywriters are invited to the project kick-off meeting. However, once the creative process begins, the flow goes from IA to designer. At this point, the conversation between these 2 departments is about the container and not about the content that will fill it.
For the most part, the copywriter begins writing the content after wireframes and comps are signed-off and locked-down. There is a delay——sometimes, weeks——before writing begins.
On larger projects, this delay causes a split in the team’s discussions (daily scrums, email, etc).
- Prong 1: What are the next steps for the IA and designer?
- Prong 2: How to address the copywriter’s questions on the IA and design work done weeks ago?
Since the previous work has been locked-down, the copywriter is told either it’s too late to change anything, or, yes, that issues needs to be fixed. If the team (lead?) decides it’s too late for change, the Guest experience could suffer. If the team agrees to the change, depending on the degree, the review cycle begins again. Schedules and budget can be affected. Resources increase.
- Many questions can be asked, and issues raised, regarding the content——in a more timely and collaborative manner, if (draft) copy is written before comps are designed.
- Copy also needs to be removed from the disembodied copy documents (Word templates) and placed in context——in either the wireframes (recommended, for greatest flexibility) or the comps.
If this isn't possible, annotated wires or comps work. (The Sticky Notes tool in Acrobat proved to be the quickest way to get changes to the tech leads as they built prototypes. Writing the copy directly into the Content Index (CI) and Data Dictionary reduced the producer’s time, as she didn't have to compare the disembodied Word doc against the wireframes and CI—since the copy was already be aligned.
- Ideally, this copy——placed in prototypes, in context——should be tested during UT sessions. Even more ideally, the copywriter should attend UT to revise on the fly.
- Have Post-Launch Reviews with all content departments—strategist, designers, IA, PM and creative lead post-production—to document the cycle of a project. Even if suggestions in the Post-Launch Review can't be implemented, document the suggestions and lessons learned to aid in the development and success of future projects.
Results / Benefits
With copy written before comps, and (draft) copy in context:
- All creative conversations happen at once——no splitting of discussions, no delay
- Internal and external reviews are infinitely easier: there’s no confusion——as to where the copy is to be placed, what the headers are, etc.
- Space issues and legal issues (such as disclaimers, placement of CTA buttons)——and solutions——can be explored.
- Review and revision cycles for copy, comps and tech are reduced——as are schedules and budget.
- And, ultimately, Guests benefit from the most appropriate/well-written/accurate——and tested——content presented in the best container possible.