Content design for growth

The following post was originally published in the December issue of the GrowthDesigners.co newsletter. Subscribe here.

There’s a bone-chillingly odd video on YouTube called What am I? What am I? In it, a young boy blows out his birthday candles and wishes for his stuffed dolls to come to life. He gets his wish, but the newly self-aware dolls can only slap themselves in their faces and scream “What am I?! What is this?! What am I?!”

And that’s more or less how I felt during my first few months as a content designer on Atlassian’s Growth Team. It was kinda freaky. I’d wished myself into the growth design world only to be completely baffled by my own existence.

Since those early days, I’ve managed to flesh out my understanding of the emerging growth content designer role. It’s my pleasure to share those insights with you to prevent your own identity crisis!

What’s growth content design anyway?

Growth content design is the practice of designing content for high-impact business opportunities. It’s a pursuit that emphasizes data, experimentation, and rapid iteration.

While some content designers will be embedded within growth teams in a full-time capacity, many more will temporarily flip on the growth mindset during specific phases of a project or for one-off growth initiatives.

Using language for action

Growth content designers have a unique knack for applying behavioral principles to content.

According to the Fogg model, Behavior = Motivation, Ability, Prompt (B=MAP). This framework has gained a fair share of traction and holds that users will perform a target behavior when there’s a confluence of motivation and ability.

Motivation is the willpower to take action.
Ability is the capacity to take action.
Prompt is the push or nudge that we design to spark the behavior.

The Fogg Behavior Model

Growth content designers can use language to propel people through the action curve. Writers have a lot of behavioral levers at their disposal such as well-written tooltips, compelling button copy, or whatever else we can get our pens on.

For a more in-depth look at how content designers use behavioral principles in growth, check out my article on content design for user onboarding.

Content levers, not holistic experiences

Traditional content designers consider the entire user experience lifecycle.

Growth content designers focus specifically on finding and pulling levers for growth.

For example, in one of my Atlassian growth experiments, I was laser focused on calling out social proof, reducing friction, and establishing use cases on just one particular signup screen. If I were working at the product or program level, I would have spent weeks ensuring that these messaging considerations were consistent across all of the touch points that came before and after this one screen. I would’ve had to consider the entire system of signup pages across all of Atlassian’s many product lines.

The Control (A):

The Variant (B):

The new design in Variant B reached statistically significant success for each of our metrics with a -4% reduction in bounce rate and a 4.5% lift in sign up conversion. After the experiment was moved to production, I began to share our growth findings with other content designers across the organization to share the impact this approach delivered, and to incorporate learnings into other signup pages.

Reconciling growth content and UX

Just because growth efforts are often tightly focused around business goals doesn’t mean that content designers need to use deceptive language or dark patterns. Sacrificing clarity for artistic flourish is also a no-no.

One such example of substance over style or greed is a user journey I experimented on for team admins to invite their colleagues to join the account. Users could skip this step by clicking a next button with a label that read, “I don’t know who I work with.” That might seem like a clever linguistic nudge away from a secondary call-to-action that doesn’t drive business goals, but it’s actually just confusing and it contributed to a 19% abandonment rate in this sign up experiment. We ended up changing the copy to read “I’m not ready to invite teammates.” This is evidence that the best growth content will make products more accessible and intuitive for everyone.

This “I’m not ready” text also exemplifies how growth content design is an opportunity for enhancing usability. Readability is a powerful growth lever for reducing bounce rates. And when we actively design growth content for readability, we’re able to target business goals while enhancing the experience for all users.

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One of the many Jason Foxes. Content designer at Chime.