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.
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.
Indiego is a collaborative agency of independent creatives. Started by Sue Worthington - founder of The Pond, who gave me my first start in freelancing - we come together when needed on projects, and at other times have the freedom of running our own businesses, working for our own clients and so on.
Since October 2011 I've been involved in a few projects through Indiego for Westpac. It's been a great experience, and I've learned a lot about usability and I/A, the strategy behind large-scale projects, and working direct with clients. Just as well, as together with Sue and her business partner Rose, we've just launched a new arm of Indiego called Big On Writing.
Big On Writing is a specialist service focused on writing projects - many in the digital space, but not entirely. In fact, we've already found that many of our information architecture and usability strategies can be applied to things such as brochures, for instance. After all, these strategies both involve an understanding of the way people search for and consume information, and what they want to know, when. That's what recently helped us to rationalise Westpac's 50 key brochures into just 30 or so.
The key benefits of Big On Writing? Clients come directly to us. Depending on the job, we match them with the right writer or writers for the job, from a pool of the best in New Zealand. Need project management or strategy? We do that too. Big On Writing takes the stress away from those jobs you just need to get done (but get them done well).
Having just launched with an update of the Indiego website, we're now sending out a DM piece to anyone we think could benefit from this service (which is almost everyone). After all, writing must be constantly revised and refreshed to keep up with trends in tone, with the demands people expect from business communications, with new technologies. It's our job to be on top of that. So if anyone out there reading this would like a mailer, drop me a line on the Contact form.