Louis Maughan on avoiding silos and the importance of user-first content

Louis Maughan on avoiding silos and the importance of user-first content
Want to learn from the best? Our interview series is the best place to get advice from those with their finger on the pulse of what's new in the comms arena.

Louis Maughan, Lead Content Designer within the Customer Experience Team at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham chats with us about the wins and challenges of content design in the public sector. Read on to learn more about the role of content design in freeing up contact centre lines and the importance of working collaboratively. 


Why did you choose to pursue a role in content design? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance? 

I enjoyed writing from an early age. I wasn’t really interested in journalism or a similar career and the internet was still relatively new, so I barely gave an online related career a second thought. I studied Media Studies at university and completed a 6-month work placement helping the English Institute of Sport with their website. I really enjoyed the mix of writing, editing and technical skills involved. I’ve worked in this area ever since, although my job titles have changed a fair bit over the years.


What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important in the content design sphere? Why these skills/attributes in particular? 

Writing skills are obviously important, but in the public sector particularly the ability to turn what can often be technical and complex information into clear, concise and accessible online content that a range of users can understand and use is the key skill. Good knowledge of your users, their needs and the ways they interact with you and each other are also important. Working on key digital channels for large organisations means you’re often of focal point for the entire company so an ability to collaborate with and influence a range of stakeholders is useful as well.


What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out?  

For me, working for large public sector organisations the key challenge has always being able to spread the message of how important content is across the whole spectrum of people you come into contact with. It’s important that people design their service or policy around their users and the channels used to reach their users rather than designing the service or policy and then chucking it onto a web page.


How is the role of content design perceived in your organisation? 

Content design is perceived very well in my current organisation. This is partly due to the open, collaborative culture that exists as well as the work my team have been able to produce. We’ve used examples of our content as evidence of how we can improve the overall experience for our users. We’re involved in the full process of service design as well as being the first port of call for advice and support with the organisation’s online content needs.


At React & Share, we’re obsessed with measuring our efforts to prove our worth to internal stakeholders - what measurements do you think content designers should be presenting to their leadership team?

A key driver of the work we do and an indicator of how successful we have been is the volume of calls that come into our contact centre. These calls cost the organisation money, so our aim is to use content to allow as many of our users as possible to self-serve online, freeing up space on the phones for the users that really need to speak to someone. We have been working on a dashboard to constantly monitor call volumes as well as user satisfaction and sentiment from other touchpoints such as website feedback and our social channels.


What advice would you give to those at the start of their career in content design? 

It can be easy to drift into a silo (especially with more home working), so it’s important to always have a second pair of eyes on the work you do and to seek feedback. This will also help you iterate and continue to improve the content you produce. Developing technical skills such as HTML, CSS and using a variety of content management systems (CMS) always helps as well. Being part of a network in your industry is great too. In local government circles, for example, I find the LocalGov slack channel to be a great resource.


What do you think the secret of success is when working in content design? 

The secret to success is really getting to know your users, their needs, the way they communicate and their key touchpoints. They should come first and lead everything that you do. Be open, collaborative and iterate.