You know how content designers are brought into a project at the last minute? Usually after design work is "final" and before eng starts their work. And you’re brought in to “wordsmith” the copy to make it sound nice?
There is a world where you can start collaborating with your stakeholders during the planning phases! I’ve been there with multiple teams and product managers. And let me tell you: it is amazing and glorious and wonderful.
This is a simple, persuasive way to get there: give. them. options.
1. Choose your content
Next time you start a project, focus on one piece of the full experience for this part of your work. Choose a piece that is high priority and has lots of potential.
Use the project’s success metrics to help you find the right piece. For instance, if feature adoption is a big part of this project, find the moments in the experience that could make or break feature adoption — like an onboarding experience or a validation modal.
You can also consider critical moments where a misunderstanding could be really bad for your audience. For instance, when I supported DocuSign Notary, I once chose an identity verification modal that communicated real-time status updates for remote online notaries.
Write, strategize, and iterate on the rest the experience like normal.
2. Write Option A
When you’re looped-in to a project at the last minute, the scope of your impact and work has already been decided for you — intentionally or no. Option A works within that scope. Option is adequate, it gets the job done. Option A is the low-hanging fruit. It is good, it is fine. It checks the boxes and the team can keep moving forward. Option A exists because you’re not a blocker and, by golly, you get your work done.
3. Write Option B
Option B pushes the envelope a bit. It is out of scope, but not wildly so. Option B is the reasonable scope you wish you had. With Option B, your goal is to clearly demonstrate the potential — for this part of the experience and for including you earlier. Option B is what could be. Annotate this option to clearly demonstrate and articule your strategy. Pull in data and research to support your work, if you have it.
4. Make your pitch
First and foremost: Make sure you and your product design counterpart are on the same page. Then, review both options with your product manager.
At this point, your PM has three options:
- Ship Option A now, stay on track, and never ship Option B
- Ship Option A now, stay on track, and ship Option B later
- Ship Option B now, lose a little momentum, and save time later
The odds are pretty favorable for you, friend. Your PM really just has to make a decision about Option B because Option A is already done and is in scope.
When Option B ships, you’re in a great position to advocate for yourself and get invited to the planning meetings. You can now demonstrate that getting involved earlier means that, as a team, you can make sure there’s time to consistently ship content with a higher quality. Just like Option B.
If Option B doesn’t ship? Do your own little postmortem to see what you can do to improve when you try again next time.
Try it out and let me know how it goes. ✌️😊