Writing long-form guidance with Scope
The disability equality charity in England and Wales, Scope is a strong community with a shared vision to achieve a society where all disabled people enjoy equality and fairness. As part of their mission, the organisation decided to expand their website to provide more helpful, relevant information for disabled people and their support networks.
Forums and focus groups showed that people are searching for answers to specific questions. Practical things like what to do when you’re discriminated against, how to speak with healthcare professionals about assistive technology, or how to approach your child’s school to discuss their needs. But this information is hard to find, and often the advice is vague or contradictory. The need for specific, useful information was obvious, and there was an opportunity for Scope to improve their online support for people with disabilities, and provide them with clear and practical guidance.
The team developed a clear and thoughtful content process to provide the right information and make sure that it’s accurate, useful and helped solve problems. We started working remotely with the content team in May 2019 to give people the new guidance, advice and support that they needed.
The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to produce every piece of content might come as a surprise. When we start a new piece, this is the process we follow:
Research - first, we make sure to have a good understanding the problem (or need) identified at focus groups, the audience’s language and keywords they might use to search online
Pair writing - next, we host a pair writing with a subject matter expert, testing assumptions and asking questions to gain a different perspective
Writing - once we’ve gathered the right information, we structure and write content in plain English and to house guidelines
Critiquing - later, we discuss the piece in a critique via Skype with the whole team to ensure it’s accurate, aligned with guidelines and meets the acceptance criteria
Testing - finally, we hand the content over to the team’s user researchers, who test it with people for feedback before publishing
Working hand in hand with subject experts means that we get accurate information, though it might not always be relevant to the people we’re trying to help. As Scope’s senior content designer, Jack Garfinkle points out in his Medium article:
“We want to write content that’s useful. Subject experts want that too, but for them that also means including a lot of detail. They like to include everything that is ‘relevant’ to a subject. We don’t. We try to solve a defined problem for a specific context.”
Scope tests every piece of content with real people to make sure it answers their questions, and we then incorporate any relevant feedback into the piece before it’s finally published online. You can follow Scope’s content team’s journey on Medium, and see some of the recent content we helped produced on their website.