Hoo boy, we need a new word for “conference.” It just doesn’t capture the awesomeness that was Button: The content design conference. Seattle was the city this year. And hybrid was the format: in-person for the first time post-pandemic, with a live stream and Slack as the hangouts for virtual folks like me.
The virtual side of things made the FOMO real. I so wanted to be there in person. Though, as the days rolled on I definitely felt a close likeness to being in the thick of it in Seattle. Massive kudos to the team behind Button and the virtual attendees as we well and truly felt part of every minute.
I am still truly inspired. I’m taking all I learned back to the office. That is, now that I’ve conquered the conference comedown. “I don’t want to go back to reality.” No, Candi Williams, neither do I.
The talks. The talks!
The talks were incredible. Every. Single. One. I’ll try to be succinct here with a summary and takeaways from just three of the talks.
Developing immunity to imposter syndrome – Linh Tran
Linh Tran, Senior Manager of UX Content Strategy, NerdWallet, spoke about something we’ve all felt at one time or another – imposter syndrome. Specifically, about how to develop immunity to it.
Four principles form the foundations of Linh’s fix. First, stay open to new experiences, especially if they scare you. Two, do what you’d want for the most important person in your life. Three, make room for others. Four, be brave and know you’re not alone.
A big takeaway for me was if Linh Tran, a first-generation immigrant and refugee from Saigon, can overcome imposter syndrome, we all can. Linh suffered a stroke in June 2022 and has re-learned how to walk, talk, and keep her memory going. She didn’t know if she’d make Button, but she did and delivered a touching account of her story and strategy. It brought many to tears.
Feedback: how to get what you need and love what you get – Milly Shaw
Milly Shaw, Content Design Practice Lead at OpenCast software, spoke about feedback. From bracing yourself for feedback to receiving it from peers, experts, and stakeholders. Milly was so on-point; “Feedback is about work, it’s not about you. You are not your work.” “Feedback will make you better at your job.” The moral of Milly’s words? Use feedback as a learning opportunity. We are humans and sometimes make mistakes. And if you find you get the same feedback often, it can highlight a blindspot you have and others can help you spot that.
The ROI of content design: Proving value in your org – Sarah Etter
Sarah Etter won Button for me. (Of course, it’s not a competition, but this was my fave talk). Sarah’s talk centered on measuring content, with heaps of practical things we can all copy and action (she’s okay with this) right away.
When Sarah started as Senior Manager of Content Design at Procore, she rolled up her sleeves and dug deep. She found every opportunity for improvement. We can all #BeMoreSarah and get ferociously curious. Sarah shared questions to ask like… what’s causing support calls in your org? Find this out, fix it, and partner with support to document the dollars saved. Then apply the same approach to all the things you found under the hood while in curious mode.
Top takeaways? Stay curious, fix easy wins, and share figures from your work. This helps you speak the language of your leadership. It’s also a great way to secure a seat at the table so you can start making really cool stuff.
Easily a year’s worth of reading to keep you busy
I shared the list I created on the Button Slack channels at the end of day 1, promising to re-share it after day 3 wrapped up. So I did. And here it is for you, too. There are even a few new additions on this version, which I grabbed from the Button Slack channels. I’m still there, loitering, to check out. Soon, I had a solid list, and books hitting my doormat every day of the festival. (I’m still working on the right fitting word to replace “conference”).
We can’t not talk about tables…
And swords (Scott Kubie’s prop, which brought Nordstrom to its knees). And Excel dresses. An actual, database dress. Worn by spreadsheet lover Relly Annet-Baker, UX Content Strategy Manager at Google.
Props aside, Relly nailed it in her talk with, “We do not need to ask permission to do our job. We do not need to ask permission to sit at the table because we ARE the f*ckin’ table.” As content designers, “None of this product stuff works without us.” Word.
Tables. They’re ours for the taking. You can even buy the t-shirt, though, it’s something else I’m coveting. Relly’s on-the-money quote, “Your job is Content Designer, not ‘Bad Decision Paramedic.’’ I’d buy that reminder any day.
Button, you were a hoot. See you in Portland next year for round #2. Peace out.
*I’m British. I may have unwittingly peppered this post with vernacular less acquainted with my mother tongue. While not intentional, this is a testament to how pumped I still feel from Button 2022.
Clare Scott is an experienced content designer, strategist, and writer. Her work spans many industries, from tech to travel. She lives with her dog by the sea in the UK and tweets, sporadically, under her ex-blogging alias @soldiersailor.
And now… all the links!
- How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons – The New York Times
- Why managers need to stop giving women and people of color feedback on their personality – Fortune
- Optimal Syntax – University of Essex
- Stop Being So Hard on Yourself – Harvard Business Review
- The Curb-Cut Effect – SSIR
- 11 key content design considerations – UX Content Collective
- Building at high altitudes: understanding the power of individual contributors – Mark Wehner
- Do you have to be a manager? – Atlassian
- How to build your community of practice – Brain Traffic
- How to fix your family’s tech issues without resorting to murder – Margo Stern
- How to incorporate content design into your design system – Bobbie Wood
- How Mozilla used Figma to evolve its content design practice – Meridel Walkington
- I’m a UX writer. I won’t bake cookies. – Elaine Short
- Why letter casing is important to consider during design decisions – Quovantis
- Why it’s time to update our language about bad design patterns – Amy Hupe
- UI/UX design guide with terms, explanations, tips and trends – Iren Korkishko
- To err is human: how to humanize error messages for good UX – Kyra Lee
- Punk in UX: 6 counterculture principles for content designers – Bill Kurland
- New Thinking: Brain Traffic’s Content Strategy Quad – Kristina Halvorson
- The User’s Journey – Donna Lichaw
- The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done Across Cultures – Erin Meyer
- The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know – Katty Kay
- The Book of X – Sarah Rose Etter
- Thanks For the Feedback – Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
- Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
- Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less – Leidy Klotz
- Stuck? Diagrams Help – Abby Covert
- Set Boundaries, Find Peace – Nedra Glover Tawwab
- Resilient Management – Lara Hogan
- Presence – Amy Cuddy
- The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You – Julie Zhuo
- Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity – Kim Scott
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions – Dan Ariely
- Playing Big: For Women Who Want to Speak Up, Stand Out and Lead – Tara Mohr
- Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment – Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein
- Information Architecture for the World Wide Web – Louis Rosenfeld
- Inclusive Design Communities – Sameera Kapila
- Getthing Things Done – David Allen
- Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni
- First-Time Manager – Mccormick Belker
- Designing Voice User Interfaces: Principles of Conversational Experiences – Cathy Pearl
- Designing for Cognitive Bias – David Dylan Thomas
- Conversations with Things: UX Design for Chat and Voice – Rebecca Evanhoe, Diana Deibel
- Content Research for User Experience – Erica Jorgensen
- How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody – Abby Covert
- Being Well
- The Content Strategy Podcast – Ep 47, Sarah Etter, Procore – Building reputation, visibility and value for content
- The Allusionist
- The Decision Lab
- Positive Intelligence
- Leading Like You – Michael Metts
- Behavioral Scientist
- Kazam Magazine
- Cope Ahead Skill
- Intuit – Content Design (Design System)
- UX Writers Need Design Systems, Too! – Pinda Phisitbutra