Thanks to the sponsorship of Westpac, I got to ask three kick-ass Kiwi women who're living and working in New York about their experiences. Is it what people think it is? What's it like being a woman in your field in New York? What do you love here, what's been... well, crap about it?
Part one - with musician Sarah Gibson from the band Streets of Laredo – is up now. on Westpac's REDNews hub.
Part two – with Creative Director Beth O'Brien from R/GA.
Part three – with Director Sally Tran from Ghost Robot.
Some of the industries I've worked in this year:
I know this is a relatively boring post, so here are some delightfully naughty pandas to make up for it.
I'm writing a couple of posts for Westpac New Zealand's REDNews – a digital hub of great content – and the first one's about chucking out the idea of "networking" and focusing on building real connections with other professionals.
Read it here: www.westpac.co.nz/rednews/women/networking-with-heart-building-real-connections/
Last year I spent a few months working with Westpac's marketing and product teams to revamp their Home Loans section. We had fancy new templates designed by Infinity to play with, so this was our chance to make our copy just as modern and accessible. So we reviewed, restructured, chopped out about 40% of the existing content and developed a brand new Property Investment hub.
It was great! At times a little mind boggling! But mostly fun! This kind of restructuring job is like a great logic puzzle to me, and it really brushed up my skills in content mapping, sitemapping and using Balsamiq for wireframing. And of course, simplifying a whole lot of words down into a clear, easy-to-read user journey.
And we just won People's Choice for Best Plain English Communication! Yahoo!
"Members of the public also submitted entries for two categories. The People’s Choice awards recognise the best and worst in government and corporate communications. Westpac won the Best Communication award for its web content about the often-complex topic of home loans. Of this entry the judges said, ‘This is a well-constructed website that explains a complex range of options and considerations in clear, straightforward language. Taking out a home loan is an important decision, made even more so by the current housing affordability crisis."
... from here...
... to here!
That's right, I'm in New York, baby! From August 2015 I'll be working from the Brooklyn office (my apartment) – and I'm still available for work. Nothing's changed, except my location. New Zealand clients will still be able to bill through Big On Writing, in NZD.
It's times like these I'm really thankful to have been born into a global village where working remotely is possible, and I can't wait to keep doing good work with great clients both in New Zealand and around the world. Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, huh.
Watch this space.
Congrats to Sue Worthington, my mentor, colleague and pseudo mum, who – together with Pete Morris – has put together a lovely website to relaunch Big On Writing. We've all been running or working for Big On Writing for years in some form or another (Indiego, Petticoat Junction), but with our relaunch we're throwing all our energy into the brand.
Check out the website yourself at www.bigonwriting.co.nz
The Home Loans section is the first cab off the rank to test out new web templates for Westpac – and it's looking almost as good as it sounds. Yep, that's because the section has had a makeover. I helped by reviewing, restructuring and overhauling the 80+ pages, including creating a new Property Investment section from scratch. I reckon people are going to love navigating through the site.
One of New Zealand's favourite brands needed to consolidate its tone of voice. We stepped in with a review of their tone across digital, PR, advertising and more, defining what is is and making it simple to understand for Anchor's many authors. Sue's written up a case study on her new site: Petticoat Junction.
I've had a long relationship with the Westpac team – long for freelancers, that is.
Since 2011 I've been in and out of Westpac on projects, starting with work on overhauling their whole website. I learned a lot during that project about usability, about page architecture, how to turn the things I understand inherently – like a brand's tone of voice – into presentations that bring others on board.
My second project taught me how UX principles can be applied to offline elements.
I've always been aware of how the amount of time I spend on the internet and writing for the internet has influenced my style in general, but when I took up the task of overhauling Westpac's brochure offering, it became more clear. They had 42 key brochures, I turned them into 20. And I did so by creating them into a sitemap, applying IA principles.
With the architecture sorted, I then applied page IA to the brochure content.
Through-out the pages I added lots of bullet points and pull-out boxes, links to related brochures, tabs for easy 'navigation', and – much like good digital writing – culled sooooo much copy. It used to be that a brochure was where you went for the full detail on something. Now, you go to the website. So the brochures became simple, stripped-back sales tools for branch staff to use. Some brochures just became what we dubbed "Super Overviews" - giant tables with stripped back information that let you compare products easily.
Side note: Sadly Westpac changed its ad agency and the brochures never got signed off in the turmoil. Sigh.
My third project with Westpac let me practice getting the little details right.
Homeclub.co.nz is a tool that lets people pull in house listings in from TradeMe, make notes and compare prices. They needed me for all those little bits of copy that have become so important on online tools and apps: the words on the buttons, the pop-up copy, the 'Site tour' copy, the response emails and error messages. These are the small things that leave a lasting impression on a reader.
Then I turned a printed booklet into digital format, and honed my skills more.
Turning Westpac's popular 'Home Buyer's & Seller's Guide' into pages on Westpac.co.nz was great fun. Only a nerd like me would love to pull apart a 30,000 word document and re-organise it. I worked closely with Westpac's Online Content Developer in Wellington, and it gave me a taste for using Westpac's CMS: Silverstripe.
The last few months at Westpac has given me a chance to be Westpac's Content Specialist, using the CMS daily. And that's why I want to say thanks.
It's not often you get the chance to be paid while you increase your skills. Because of my past relationship with Westpac, they trusted that I could be the person they needed to review their site, improve tone and flow, create new content and teach others how to use the CMS – while I was still learning the CMS myself. I was given incredible freedom, and I did stuff up a few times because I was thrown into a job that technically I wasn't trained for... but I loved it!
Thank you Westpac. The truly rewarding jobs are those that teach you the most.