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Product terminology

Terminology management is a hugely important part of Product Content Strategy. I worked hard to establish a controlled vocabulary for Campaign Monitor in Sydney

terminology | Campaign Monitor

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The words used to describe a product and its features evolve over time, and they change as new people come and go. Campaign Monitor had already been around for 8 years before I joined in 2012, and I was the first person to attempt to tame its uncontrolled vocabulary.

 

PROBLEM

Customers were confused about the options and tools available for creating and editing email templates. One contributing issue is that the product’s original email template tools co-exist alongside a new set of email template tools — and neither of them are referred to by name in the UI.

Long-term customers could have up to four different template types in their account and it’s difficult to tell, just by looking them, which one is which. The screenshot below shows three saved email templates, which each open in different content editors that have wildly different features and functionality.

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PROJECT

Define best-fit terminology for the complete feature set, then rid the knowledge base of duplicative nouns. The latest version of the tool was already well established as the “email builder”, so I just had to find the right words to fit the context for everything else in the feature set.

To give you an overview, we are talking about two tools that can create an email template without the user having to write or edit code. The legacy version no longer builds email templates — unless you’re building a template that supports RSS — but it still exists (as an email content editor) for customers who built their templates with it before the new tool (“email builder”) came along. The old version is also the content editor for custom-coded templates that can be imported. The list goes on, but I won’t.

METHODS

Finding the right words involves discovering the language of your users. Research methods involved:

  • Content audit

  • User research

  • Experience mapping

  • Customer journey mapping

  • Affinity mapping

 

PROCESS

The project started with an audit of all customer-facing content referencing email template features and concepts. This included help articles, feature pages on the marketing site, plus API and template language docs. Then I researched the most commonly used terms by customers, by pulling six months’ worth of data from these sources:

  • Top search terms from Google Analytics.

  • Customer support cases.

  • A “failed search terms” report from our help authoring tool.

I was lucky to discover a lot of recurring terms in the customer data analysed. Generally people grasped the meaning of an email template, and how its functionality changes when opened in a content editor. The main point of confusion was when people opened a template in an editor they didn’t recognise, with editing tools they were not familiar with.

This was more problematic for long-term customers, especially resellers, who might have 20+ sub-accounts, each with varying template types created by different account users.

 
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RESULTS

I came up with relatable and contextually relevant terms for all features and objects related to email templates. Then I cemented them in the glossary of product terminology, which is part of Campaign Monitor’s Design System.

 

The biggest portion of work was on product documentation, and revision of the support site’s information architecture. I reorganised content categories to group articles based on topic (email templates, email builder, custom coded emails, etc.), and rewrote the following help guides:

Additionally, I wrote a new guide on how to identify different template types, and updated the template language documentation with new terms. To see some before & after copy, view the change request document (PDF).

 

TESTIMONIALS

I was lucky enough to get a chance to work with Carlee at Campaign Monitor, and during this time she was a critical part of our ability to build products that help our customers.

She is extremely customer-focused, has a great eye for detail, and worked really well with the wider team to bring a can-do approach to providing the best customer experience possible.

I've learned a lot from Carlee, and I hope to have a chance to work with her again in the future.

Cian Brassil | Senior Product Manager, Campaign Monitor

When Carlee joined Campaign Monitor, our technical documentation was out of date, but more than that it lacked effectiveness. Carlee brought to the team (and to her work) a clear structure, deliberate planning and a level of quality that made a real impact on the service we offered our customers.

She was always thoughtful about how documentation fitted into the customer's broader experience of our service, and as her role broadened to UX-related copy she worked hard to create a more cohesive approach to designing that experience, to build a more consistent customer journey all the way through.

Mathew Patterson | Customer Service Evangelist, Help Scout