#io17 brings content strategy to center stage

UX Writer | Content Strategist | Product Writer | UI Writer | Content Designer | Editorial Manager | Software Copywriter

All of the above job titles are used to describe the person responsible for the words found in and around a web or mobile application. While the task of writing copy for user interfaces isn’t new, the consideration of it as crucial to successful product development is a fairly fresh idea. The wide variance of job titles is evidence that companies are still figuring out what it means to staff this sort of work.

It’s also telling that this was the first year, since its beginning in 2008, that Google I/O featured a talk devoted to UX Writing. The conference is an annual event that engages developers from around the world to introduce new tools and instruct on best practices. In a session titled, “How Words Can Make Your Product Stand Out,” UX pros Maggie Stanphill, Alison Rung, and Juliana Appenrodt discussed why app developers should care about good writing, and intro’d a few writing strategies for achieving it.

The intersection of technology, user needs, and business goals is UXImage sourced from UX Booth

As a Senior Content Strategist at Google, it’s exciting to see my colleagues on stage demonstrating how writers contribute to improving the user experience of an app. In addition to working on in-app copy, my team has the special privilege of writing product documentation, support content, and email communications. It can be challenging to wrangle all that messaging – on various platforms and in different stages of the user journey. However, it creates an advantageous, high-level perspective that expands user experience into customer experience. Good UX makes for higher adoption & engagement. And what does good customer experience make? More

Live from Mountain View: Google I/O 2016

Where’ve you been, EightyJane?
If you follow me on LinkedIn, you may know that I’ve defected from entrepreneurial life to take a position at Google. Having never (ever, ever) considered myself the “corporate type,” this move was made with some trepidation: Can I retain any sense of autonomy? Will I feel inspired by purpose or get caught in the money trap? Will my creative talents go dull?

Life at Google
I’m only half a year in, but I’m happy to report that culture at Google lives up to the hype and if I become a corporate drone, I’ll have only myself to blame. I was hired to be a leader of UX content strategy for SMB (small-to-medium business) audiences because of my entrepreneurial spirit, not in spite of it. Accordingly, I still have plenty of room to exercise, learn new skills, attend tech talks, and be otherwise dynamically productive during my 9ish to 5ish day.

Eye on I/O
The Google brand is been about being open and accessible so that the willing can have the resources to make the world anew. And that’s what I/O is about. It’s about sharing what’s new with the world and engaging a community of makers as partners in evolving the world of digital technology. That community isn’t just in Silicon Valley; it isn’t just in the Bay Area; and it certainly isn’t limited to the United States. It is worldwide.

So wherever you are, and whether you’re a developer, a designer, a content creator, a wannabe, or just a lover of all things tech – watch the I/O keynote live online, here on, and be informed. Better yet, be inspired!

HBO NOW App still far from Netflix UX gold standard

Netflix has spoiled me. The video streaming pioneer is a sophisticated platform that makes browsing a huge catalog feel as comfortable and familiar as scanning the media shelves in my living room. That is, if my living room shelves could magically refresh themselves with new items while remaining perfectly curated to my current tastes, while being (mostly) clutter-free. The 18-year-old company has made me expect savvy streaming experiences – especially when viewing premium content.

So imagine my horror when I signed up for HBO NOW and discovered the user interface looking like a free WP magazine-style theme template! There doesn’t seem to be any account personalization outside of the very basic watchlist, which allows you to save items to watch later. That leaves the front page to fall back on the curation efforts that appeal to the largest common denominator… and we know what happens with that approach. Or, if you didn’t know, here it is.

[Pictured, from HBO NOW desktop app: A collection of movie stills that all feature white males, with a few decorative guns and women in the mix. The guns outnumber the women.]

If I didn’t already know that HBO does actually have great programming, a page like this would send me directly to the subscription cancellation page in my Google Play account. Yet the network can bank on it’s huge and hugely popular catalogue of critically acclaimed shows and documentaries to make viewers like me slog through what looks like someone’s copy+paste-from-the-CMS-backend job.

HBO has finally bent to the inevitable tide of online entertainment consumption that is ringing the death knell of traditional cable services. They must have finally understood that folks like me (and I’m among a growing majority) would sooner forego the pleasure of a timely viewing of Curb Your Enthusiasm, VEEP, Getting On and so so many movies than submit to the tyranny that is a traditional cable subscription. However, they are a long way from serving on-demanding consumers who expect smart information architecture and customized content.

In the longrun – after a number of series binges – the poor navigation and lack of dynamic discovery in the app will make the offering much less attractive to me. Especially at it’s premium $14.99 per month price. Further, Netflix is quickly catching up in the original programming game. To remain competitive HBO will really have to push to develop it’s applications to the golden user experience standard customers now expect.

Collector’s Paradise: eBay Joins the Content Curation Party

ebay collections as content strategy

When eBay introduced collections a few months ago I wondered if they were a replacement for their not-so-slick lists. Themselves a fairly new extension of the veteran Watch List, lists were a way to categorize all those things you “watch” – often with no real intention to buy. They encourage the rampant window shopping that, if other members are like me, makes up the vast majority of time spent on eBay. Unfortunately, lists don’t have a sexy* user interface and are buried under vague navigation clicks. The result is they’re forgotten just as quickly as they’re made.

ebay lists and navigation

#FTW14: Mobile Apps for Offline Shopping

The Retail Tech Summit took place Sunday, March 2nd, as part of San Francisco’s Fashion Tech Week 2014. The event featured presentations and panel discussions from companies that are using technology in new ways to improve retail experiences online and offline. Surprisingly, though, this years selection of presenters skewed toward the offline end of the spectrum. It was a refreshing break from the barage of e-commerce options that dominate the fashion app landscape. I was especially intrigued that among a short list, there were two applications at the summit focus on helping mobile users find brick and mortar shops to patronize.

click for larger view

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Colourlovers x Betabrand

The Green Light
The Green Light by eighty


“Betabrand is partnering with COLOURlovers for an incredible new contest. Betabrand, a company based in San Francisco, is an online community that designs, manufactures, and releases new items every week! They are now launching a new clothing line for women and we’re going to help them choose colors for one of their designs. Our users will be choosing five colors for a pair of Betabrand leggings.”


Highlights from Fashion Tech Week 2013

fashion tech week ft west coast leather
PHOTO: Onlookers admire a model in head-to-toe snakeskin during a presentation by West Coast Leather.

#FTW13. There were several hashtags circulating in association with Fashion Tech Week 2013, but I chose the quickest to type. Others, though probably more transparent for the uninitiated, lacked elegance and specificity. And in any case, FTW13 better echoes how I feel about my decision to relocate to the city of San Francisco: win. More

Wardrobe Stylist Eighty Jane Featured on Polyvore Blog

Read the full interview at the Polyvore Blog.

Polyvore is the leading community site for online style where users are empowered to discover their style and set trends around the world. With over 6 million unique visitors and 140 million page views a month, Polyvore’s global community has created over 20 million fashion sets that are shared across the site. The company collaborates with prominent brands such as Calvin Klein, Diane Von Furstenberg, Lancôme, Net-a-Porter, Gap and Coach to drive product engagement; and its user-generated fashion campaigns have been judged by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.

Find out more about the company at the Polyvore Crunchbase listing.

Gilt Groupe Widens the Online Sample Sale Gap

In the last couple years there’s been a boom in online shopping. This is true across all categories and formats, but especially so for high-end fashion. Accordingly, savvy entrepreneurs went after the discount-seeking, designer-loving crowd with a bevy of so-called online “sample” sales and “private” shopping clubs. Initially there was an attractive mystique spawned by the idea of invite-only shopping, but as the number of sites and customers in the arena grew it become clear that there wasn’t anything truly private about the deal. Now, there are more of these sort of sites than this blogger cares to name, but a few you might recognize include ideeli, Editor’s Closet, Top Button, Cocosa, and Hautelook. And then there’s Gilt Groupe, a slick shopping club site that has distinguished itself among the pack with it’s premium inventory, tech savvy marketing, and expansion into the travel arena. The company has made it clear that it’s not your average online sample sale by teaming with print magazines and being the leaders of the iPad app pack. Now Gilt widens the gap between it and the rest in the sector by being the first to have a capsule collection designed specifically for the site. More

Web News: The Fashion Cult Hit by Hackers

The Fashion Cult – a network of fashion-focused blogs – was targeted by an unknown group of Website hackers that have been attacking high-profile WordPress blogs. Cult Webmistress Mary Egbula first noticed something wrong with the flagship site (a.k.a. TFC) when a the Avast anti-virus software on her office PC began to abort any connections to the site.

“I was devasted,” the Webmistress said, “The Fashion Cult has been online since 2005 and we’ve never experienced anything like this.” She says the sites were all shut down immediately to protect any visitor that might not have anti-virus protection.

The rash of hacks has been widespread, yet strangely quiet. Though hosts, including the ubiquitous Godaddy sent notices to customers implying that the events were due weakness in the software, WordPress maintains that the security issue was the fault of related hosts. Indeed, sites were targeted because lax security on shared servers allowed the unscrupulous hackers access to sensitive information. WordPress has, conspicuously, removed Godaddy and several other hosting providers from their list of recommended hosts.

As The Fashion Cult, they have since moved to a new server with a new provider. “The service with Godaddy was never very good and I’d been ready for a change anyway,” said Egbula. “The Fashion Cult is moving to newer and greater heights in 2010 and it’s almost appropriate that there was such a dramatic impetus to move to a new home.” (Photo Source)

The incident caused flagship property to take a major hit in search engine page rank, but Egbula says she’s confident that the site will bounce back in no time. She has contracted a security expert to ensure that TFC and all related sites are safe for her audience to visit again. (Photo Source)