Creating a UX Content Guide

Project

Build out a set of content guidelines that can be applied to all transactional triggered emails, thus empowering others to write or edit email content while maintaining consistency

Highlights

  • Reviewed and revised 60+ transactional emails
  • Developed an internal content guide inclusive localized content
  • Aligned stakeholders from across the organization and across functions
  • first page of a content guide document with a table of contents
  • second page of a content guide document that explains the parts of an email
  • third page of a content guide document with specific style guidelines
  • fourth page of a content guide document explaining how to style numbers in various contexts
  • fifth page of a content guide document explaining how to use dynamic content and listing approved spellings
  • sixth page of a content guide document including localized guidelines for the United Kingdom and Canada
  • seventh page of a content guide document showing the beginning of a list of internal terms
  • eighth page of a content guide document defining internal terms and abbreviations

A Deeper Dive

Background

When I started working on this guide, I was already in the process of rewriting a set of about 60 transactional emails—and those weren’t even all of them. Maintaining consistent terminology and stylization across so many individual pieces of content was not only difficult, but also unsustainable for a large and growing organization. We needed written guidelines so that people could quickly find answers to questions about capitalization, punctuation, etc. With this guide, anyone could write or edit emails without inadvertently introducing inconsistency.

Role: Content Strategist

Skills & Deliverables

  • UX Content Guide
  • Localized Content
  • Stakeholder Management

Process

Several months prior to starting this project, I had done an email content audit and rewritten over 60 of our existing transactional emails. These resources gave me a solid understanding of what our most frequently used emails looked like and what kind of language they used.

Wayfair had some existing style guidelines, but they were primarily tailored to specific audiences and use cases, like marketing materials or onsite UX copy. To accommodate transactional emails, there were areas that needed some tweaking. For example, when referencing price in marketing materials, we drop the zeros after the decimal point when it’s an even dollar amount. In transactional emails though, that treatment doesn’t really make sense. This is money a customer spent—something being charged to their credit card and taken out of their account—and the details matter.

I still wanted our emails to remain reflective of our overall brand, so I worked closely with the creators of the existing guides to identify where we could leverage existing guidelines, and where we really needed to diverge. Because Wayfair operates internationally, I also needed to account for localized content, and incorporated guidelines specific to British and Canadian English.

From there, I shared the guide with other cross-functional partners. The goal of the guide was to provide all the information someone would need to write a transactional email, so asking for their feedback served as a sort of user research activity. It helped me identify what information was missing or could be confusing.

Many of the questions people had went beyond what would typically be covered in a traditional style guide. I realized I needed to define the parts of an email, provide guidelines around using dynamic content, and add a glossary of internal terms for those less familiar with the post-purchase space.

Results

After all of this refining, my style guide had become a content guide. Once we’d reached a consensus, the last step was to share the guide with the broader organization. I made the document accessible to everyone and notified product managers, designers, and engineers. Though I’ve shifted into a different part of the organization, the content guide has continued to inform changes made to transactional emails, keeping them clear, consistent, and in line with the Wayfair brand—basically, it did exactly what it was supposed to.