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.