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Content designer

Find out what a content designer does and the skills
you need to do the job.

Updated: January 26, 2022

Introduction to the role of content designer

Content designers make things easier for people to understand and use. The work can range from a standalone piece of content, to supporting an end-to-end service journey. Content designers work on cross-functional teams to strategize and advocate for user-centered content practices, plain language, and inclusivity, all while delivering on business objectives. Content designers also help design content governance strategies and workflows in a user-centered context. They conduct research, facilitate design activities, and of course — write.

Below you’ll find the full list of skills for becoming a content designer at Skylight and a description of the skills required for each level. These descriptions offer insight into the scope of work someone at each level should be capable of doing on a consistent basis. We use these role descriptions both as a guide during the hiring process and as a springboard for discussing career progression at Skylight.

Required skills

Content advocacy

You can advocate for the value of a content-driven approach to design as well as best practices. You’re able to train and guide your team and stakeholders, as needed.

You can identify which stakeholders need to participate in a project, at which point, and in what capacity. You can communicate with stakeholders clearly and consistently. You can balance stakeholder requests with content best practices.

Strategic thinking

You think beyond a single piece of content to the overall business impact and user experience of your product or service. You know when to deliver quick solutions for the client and when to invest more time to create long-term impact.

Evidence-based decision making

You’re able to come up with hypotheses of user needs, then gather data to test them. You work with researchers or do your own data gathering in order to come up with the best approach for users. You can organize and structure content that prioritizes user needs.

User experience (UX) writing

You’re able to apply best practices for writing user-centered content, including microcopy. You define, develop, and implement content standards and style guidelines. You can select the best content and UX practices to solve needs and questions. Your writing is clear, consistent, accessible, and appropriate for the context.

Tech skills

You have a high-level understanding of the design, agile, and software development processes used to build and operate digital services. You understand the different roles on a multidisciplinary team.

You have enough proficiency to edit content for websites or applications using version control software and markup languages such as HTML.

Content designer career pathway

Associate content designer

  1. Associate
  2. I not completed
  3. II not completed
  4. Senior not completed
  5. Staff not completed
  6. Principal not completed

Entry-level content designers work under supervision to learn the fundamentals of the role. At this level, you need basic writing skills and an understanding of the role. Associate content designers perform basic reviews and copy edits.

Skills needed for this level

Content advocacy

You have an awareness of best practice approaches to content design and can articulate the value of a content-driven approach to design.

You know who your stakeholders are and the importance of maintaining a relationship with them.

Strategic thinking

You understand the strategy behind your work. You support delivery of projects that align with strategic goals and that create business impact.

Evidence-based decision making

You have knowledge of basic data gathering methods for content and an awareness of user-centered design practices. You’re able incorporate recommendations given to you in order to iterate and improve content.

UX writing

You have experience writing and editing, though not necessarily for digital products. You understand the value of writing for different contexts and audiences.

Tech skills

You’re starting to learn about the design, agile, and various software development processes your team uses.

You know of markup languages such as HTML and can pair with others to edit text.

Content designer I

  1. Associate completed
  2. I
  3. II not completed
  4. Senior not completed
  5. Staff not completed
  6. Principal not completed

A content designer I is expected to have some work experience in a content creation role. At this level, you’ll make informed content decisions, work independently with direction from more senior content designers, and can identify user problems and needs.

Skills needed for this level

Content advocacy

You’re able to identify areas to incorporate leading practice approaches to content design. You collaborate with others to improve content strategy both internally and with clients.

You know who your stakeholders are and the importance of maintaining a relationship with them. You can communicate with them and work to understand their needs with some guidance.

Strategic thinking

You support the development of strategy and contribute to improving processes and content guidelines. You understand how your team’s activities meet strategic goals.

Evidence-based decision making

You understand the importance of prioritizing user needs in content decisions, and you have familiarity with some tools and methods to help clarify and meet those needs. You’re comfortable using findings from data and research to make decisions and improvements on content.

UX writing

You have writing and editing skills and some understanding of how to apply them in the context of user experience. You also have some familiarity with best practices for UX writing, such as avoiding jargon.

Tech skills

You have a general understanding of the design, agile, and various software development processes your team uses.

You can edit text in simple markup such as HTML with some help.

Content designer II

  1. Associate completed
  2. I completed
  3. II
  4. Senior not completed
  5. Staff not completed
  6. Principal not completed

As a content designer II, you’re able to create, evaluate, update, and review content at all stages of the end-to-end user journey. At this level, you’re comfortable seeking and using evidence to make content decisions and can balance the needs of users with the desires of stakeholders. You also use and add to content style guides.

Skills needed for this level

Content advocacy

You actively build internal and client relationships to guide others towards more user-centered content design.

You can identify stakeholders and understand how to involve them in the process. You’re comfortable balancing stakeholder and user needs in the content you create with occasional guidance.

Strategic thinking

You contribute to strategy and are comfortable creating content guidelines and standards such as style guides, with an eye for streamlining processes and driving business impact. You help create policies and workflows to manage the creation of user-centered content.

Evidence-based decision making

You’re able to choose the best method to gather data that informs specific content. You can explain your decisions and make recommendations to the team. You consistently prioritize user needs and can select the best content and UX practices to achieve set goals.

UX writing

You design and write content that’s easy to understand. You’re comfortable applying UX writing best practices, creating consistent and actionable microcopy that fits a product’s voice. You have experience publishing and maintaining accurate, high-quality content that aligns with standards and style guidelines.

Tech skills

You have a high-level understanding of the software and processes your team uses. You can edit content in the application code with some help from the engineering team.

Senior content designer

  1. Associate completed
  2. I completed
  3. II completed
  4. Senior
  5. Staff not completed
  6. Principal not completed

Senior content designers are experts who develop content strategy and solutions for large-scale problems. At this level, you’re responsible for content quality. You mentor other content creators and review others’ work to ensure quality and consistency. You also participate in the government and technology content communities.

Skills needed for this level

Content advocacy

You take responsibility for the quality of your content and mentor content colleagues. You’re able to influence both colleagues and clients on leading practice approaches to content. You guide and train others to create user-centered text for products and related documentation.

You can identify stakeholders and understand how to involve them in the process. You’re comfortable balancing stakeholder and user needs in the content you create, and you have some experience influencing stakeholder decisions for the benefit of the user, team, and project.

Strategic thinking

You lead the content strategy approach. You know when to deliver quick solutions for the client and when to invest more time to create long-term impact. You collaborate and help ensure content strategy is incorporated effectively within projects and drives business impact. You’re an expert at creating policies and workflows to manage the creation of user-centered content.

Evidence-based decision making

You can form hypotheses about user pain points and collect data effectively. You collaborate with other designers and researchers as needed to create and test prototypes with users.

UX writing

You design content that’s easy to understand and use. You consistently apply UX writing best practices, creating clear, accessible microcopy that fits a product’s voice and context. You can present information in the right context and format for users, including visual design elements, as needed. You have experience developing content standards and guidelines. You’re able to use HTML and other markup languages.

Tech skills

You have a deeper understanding of the design, agile, and software development processes your team uses. You know how you fit in.

You’re proficient at using version control software. You’re comfortable editing content in application code.

Staff content designer

  1. Associate completed
  2. I completed
  3. II completed
  4. Senior completed
  5. Staff
  6. Principal not completed

A staff content designer is an expert who defines content and shapes content workflows for organizations. At this level, you’re responsible for quality across teams and channels, ensuring content aligns to strategy and objectives while meeting user needs. You’re skilled at identifying content problems and resolving them. You also advocate for content design in the government and technology community and keep up to date with industry changes.

Skills needed for this level

Content advocacy

You seek out opportunities to mentor and develop content strategy. You’re responsible for content quality across your team and develop ideas for new projects. You’re comfortable helping teams build content skills. You ensure that others understand and implement content standards and guidelines. You can design workflow and governance models that help large teams and organizations publish and maintain user-centered content.

You actively build and manage relationships with stakeholders, meeting their goals while also encouraging them to focus on user needs. You can influence stakeholder decisions and navigate difficult situations.

Strategic thinking

You take ownership for content strategy across user touchpoints and lead on projects to ensure it meets client needs and drives business impact. You evaluate the implementation and roll out of strategies to make sure high-level needs and objectives are met. You’re an expert at designing policies and workflows to manage the creation of user-centered content in complex organizations with unique needs.

Evidence-based decision making

You can lead your team on how to best collect data. You’re able to prioritize and decide what content gets prototyped and tested with users. You seek out opportunities to improve content design along the user journey.

UX writing

You ensure consistency in copy across user journeys and different channels. You guide and train others to create user-centered text for products and related documentation. You’re comfortable using HTML and other markup languages.

Tech skills

You have a deeper understanding of the design, agile, and software development processes your team uses. You work with teams to ensure content workflows are included in their processes.

You’re proficient at using version control software. You’re comfortable editing content in application code such as HTML.

Principal content designer

  1. Associate completed
  2. I completed
  3. II completed
  4. Senior completed
  5. Staff completed
  6. Principal

A principal content designer is an expert with deep industry experience. You define and ensure leading practices while influencing stakeholders and mentoring others. At this level, you oversee content strategy that meets users’ needs and an entire organization’s objectives, and you can lead a team responsible for executing it. You work with senior stakeholders and colleagues to influence strategy. You build Skylight’s reputation for strong content design through channels such as public speaking, publications, workshops, and social media. You also advocate for good content practices in government and technology.

Skills needed for this level

Content advocacy

You’re an expert practitioner and mentor who develops effective content strategy and roadmaps. You advocate for leading practice approaches to content design at work and across the industry. You direct user-centered content design across multiple channels. You help train and guide your team on how to implement user-centered design approaches.

You have extensive experience creating, iterating, managing, and overseeing content across different channels. You’re accountable for your entire team’s production of high-quality, user-centered content.

Strategic thinking

You lead the creation, roll out, and evaluation of content strategy spanning all user touchpoints. You work with team members across disciplines to align content strategy with business impact for both Skylight and for clients. You advocate for content design strategy at the leadership level.

Evidence-based decision making

You lead your team in coming up with innovative and effective approaches to test content with users and gather data that supports continual improvement of content strategy and processes. You ensure that content is considered across different parts of the user journey and product lifecycle.

UX writing

You can advise organizations on how to create, iterate, manage, and oversee content across different channels. You’re accountable for Skylight’s production of high-quality, user-centered content.

Tech skills

You have extensive experience working in many design, agile, and software development processes. You work with teams to ensure content workflows are included in their processes.

You’re proficient at using version control software. You’re comfortable editing content in application code such as HTML.

Attribution

This content is adapted from GOV.UK’s Digital, Data and Technology Profession Capability Framework content designer role and content strategist role, which is licensed under the Open Government License v3.0.

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