Guided by Style

dropbox.design dropbox.design3 years ago in #UX Love435

#askawriter We also have a Slack channel called #askawriter that’s open to the whole company. Anyone can ask a question that a writer will answer. If we can’t answer something in that channel, we add it to the feedback doc. Types of questions People from across the company ask questions about things that aren’t listed in the style guide. They usually ask about mechanics, terms, and phrases—things that come up on their own as common issues: Do we capitalize this? What’s the official name of that new feature? How do we abbreviate this? Do we use decimals in prices? What’s our standing on this particular phrase? Do we have guidelines in place for X, Y, or Z? My team is asking the same style or writing questions over and over again. Can I point them to an answer? But more often, Style Council representatives are the ones who bring questions to the meetings. Who makes the decisions? The Style Council Every four weeks, a group of us meet for an hour to go over the feedback doc. I call us the Style Council, as a nod to the ’80s band fronted by Paul Weller. The Style Council includes representatives from teams across the company: UX Writing Product Marketing Brand Marketing CX Customer Education SEO Security Operations Intellectual Property Design Research … and a few others Volunteers and passionate word nerds needed It’s a volunteer group, meaning everyone who attends wants to be there. Style Council reps are typically people who love style guides and cherish language. They also—critically—get excited about researching, debating, and deciding sometimes tiny details. One important note is it doesn’t need to be only writers or editors. Some people who don’t consider themselves writers are hugely passionate about language. These people can often spot a typo a mile away. They’re the ones you want on your style team. No one should ever be required to be on your style guide committee. A content style guide is fueled by passion for cohesive language, consistent terminology, and the ever-changing nuances of modern spelling, grammar, and punctuation. If anyone feels forced to be there, be prepared to face a tough time making decisions. Debates, research, and relationship-building Sometimes our decisions take several months to reach. Sometimes we need to research tiny, picky details about spelling, grammar, punctuation, and company style. People who love this kind of detail work are ideal for the Style Council. People who get excited by long debates with multiple stakeholders make wonderful reps. Whoever you choose to be on your style committee, it’s important they understand: the user experience goals of your product the marketing goals of your company and the overall business goals Specialists make great reps because they can speak for their particular part of the company and goals. Depending on your company, that might be someone from SEO, Engineering, or Project Management. They also need to be willing to reach out to people they don’t know across the company. Much of the work is finding the correct SME (subject matter expert) who can help us make the right decisions. If someone would rather add things to the feedback doc and have somebody else figure out what we should do about it, that’s totally fine! In fact, we encourage it. I’ll occasionally survey the Style Council members on the frequency of meetings and whether people are still happy to be involved. Taking a regular pulse check helps make sure the monthly syncs meet everyone’s needs. Only one updater While the decision-making group can be as large as you want, it’s important to have only…

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