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How many Content Designers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Noni Hollonds, a design leader at Atlassian, shares her approach to content design resourcing and offers a framework for achieving balance in team support.

Welcome to a third video in our Perspectives series. In this talk, Noni Hollonds shares her rules of thumb when it comes to content design resourcing, as well as a framework to help you get buy-in with cross-functional peers.

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Meet our speaker

Photo of Noni Hollonds
Noni HollondsExperience Design Manager, Atlassian

Noni is a design leader at Atlassian. After a career in education and mental health, Noni made the transition into the world of content design. She worked as a content designer in government and big tech before moving into leadership roles. Noni now looks after more than just content design as she is currently leading the design team building Atlassian's Design System. She's always been passionate about ethical tech, leaning on her background in education and psychology - this has led to a love of user research and accessibility. In her spare time, Noni is a mum to two fur babies and lives in Sydney, Australia.

Are you looking at resourcing and finding content design support for multiple product teams? What's the best ratio of the content designer to the team? How many content designers do you need?

There's a balancing act between supporting #allthethings and having overworked/burnt-out content designers, or, not supporting some things in favour of deep content design support for others. So how do you make this decision?

Watch Noni share her rules of thumb when it comes to content design resourcing, as well as a framework to help you get buy-in with cross-functional peers.

Noni talks about the tough job of figuring out the right balance for content design resources in teams and projects. She stresses how important it is to make sure content designers have the right amount of work — but not too much — to keep them at the top of their game.

Noni takes a look at how content design work stacks up against other roles like product design and engineering. Turns out, content design has a lot in common with engineering when it comes to the ongoing work they need to put in. This definitely affects how you're going to set up your resources. Noni shares her rules of thumb for figuring it out, and she's all about going for a one-to-one ratio of the content designer to the cross-functional product team when you can swing it. But let's be real, sometimes it's just not possible because of money and what's available in the talent pool.

So, Noni lays out three team models for sorting your content design resources: the one-to-one, one-to-domain area, and the service desk model. Each one has its ups and downs, and picking the best one for your team comes down to things like how complex the project is, your budget, and what kind of people you've got on the team.

Quotes from the talk

Photo of Noni Hollonds
Noni HollondsExperience Design Manager, Atlassian

"Now those experiences outside of tech were fundamental in my professional development as a content designer, and really taught me how to build empathy for our users and embedded the importance of usable and accessible content for everyone.

So, this is the million-dollar question. I decided to crowdsource some answers to this from my colleagues at Atlassian and I'll share with you some of their brilliant responses through the presentation.

So how many content designers does it take to change a light bulb?

[01:16]

Photo of Noni Hollonds
Noni HollondsExperience Design Manager, Atlassian

"Content designers need to take a journey approach to their content. So to write great content, they need to understand what users did before, during, and after the interaction.

They may also need to understand what other interactions are happening at the same time. So for example, our users might be Googling things or using help documentation.

Content designers need to have deep product knowledge. To write great content, they need to deeply understand the product and the features to translate them to an outside audience.

[03:37]

Photo of Noni Hollonds
Noni HollondsExperience Design Manager, Atlassian

"When considering about resourcing for content design, consider the impact of spreading content designers thin like peanut butter on toast - is that really the best use of our talented people?

So how many content designers does it take to change a light bulb? None. We don't change the light bulb. We just write a doc of workarounds for navigating a dark room.

[06:29]

About Perspectives Conf

This talk is part of Track #3 - Managing People and content teams of the 2022 edition of our conference.

Perspectives Conf is the world’s first event specifically focused on the careers side of content. It’s been carefully curated to help people at all levels navigate the many facets of working in content – from being the first content person to hiring and growing a team.

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