Cherry Danishes & the Versatile Technique of Front Loading Content



Hello everybody, happy UXmas. This is a story about cherry danish.

My name is Matt Fenwick. I'm a content strategist at True North Content, but the whole time I was talking just then you weren't thinking about me. You were thinking, “Where is the damn danish?” Instead, looking at the screen, all you can see is this row of Weet-bix. This is a breakfast cereal that's quintessentially Australian, but utterly lacking in flavour. This is what we tend to do with our content all the time. You know, people come with a specific need, but instead of meeting that need, we make them eat through all the Week-bix to get to the thing that they want—the cake. This is a problem also when people come to our content because it sends them the wrong signals. You know, if you were just looking at this screen, you wouldn't necessarily know that there was any cake for you. You just see Weet-bix. 

So I'm going to introduce you to a technique called 'front loading' and, really simply, what it amounts to is this: we get rid of some of the Weet-bix, we can put it up here if we really want, and we bring up the cherry danish so we're giving it to people straight away. The reason I love this technique is because it's so versatile. You can apply the 'front loading' technique to every part of organising your content, whether that's looking at the site structure as a whole: you know, thinking about where are people going to first arrive on your website and how can you meet their needs straightaway. And it can apply to a page: many organizations write their content and feel like they need to give this huge, long preamble before they get to the gist—a massive, lengthy background section right-up-top that just doesn't need to be there. 

And it even applies at the level of organising and writing sentences. So, if you're looking at headings or interface labels, 'front loading' means putting words—right up-top—that actually carry information. So instead of saying, “click here to apply for a visa”, you get rid of the Weet-bix and you start with the cake or the Cherry Danish. So you say, “apply for a visa.” That's all we need to do. 

If we just did this one thing—'front loaded' our content properly—then we would make the user experience a whole lot better. My challenge for you is whenever you're looking at your content, or maybe even a client's content, don't make them eat the Weet-bix. Give them a danish. Mmm, it's really good. Cheers!

Matt Fenwick

Matt Fenwick

Matt Fenwick is a content strategist and founder of True North Content. He works on big, messy content projects for government departments in between juggling tiny humans.

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