Five ways curators can improve user experience

Most people curate for the benefit of themselves or their organisations. What if we considered content curation from a user centered design perspective? What would audience centered curation look like?

Photo Credit: Methos04 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Methos04 via Compfight cc

Here are some ideas

1. Focus on quality, not quantity.
It’s ok if you don’t share anything today. Now say it out loud. “I don’t have to share anything today.” Doesn’t that feel better? The world won’t stop spinning if you don’t share anything online today. A lot of the discourse around curation assumes we should always be online. We need to monitor our social media channels all the time. We need to push new content out every day. We need to automate tweets so we can keep visible over the weekend and holidays etc.

No we don’t (unless perhaps you actually work in marketing). The perception that you need to commit several hours a day to curation, not only turns normal people away, it’s also wrong. It makes it sound like something only professional curators, consultants and marketers can do. If you build strong networks, effective filters and maintain a discerning eye, you can become a valued source of information without dedicating all your waking hours to it.

2. Find your niche
One of the benefits of curation is that it helps people find useful information that otherwise gets missed by search and social media. Let’s face it, most things we like from popular sites like Mashable, the BBC, Fast Company etc. are going to be shared by large numbers of people in our social network. There’s nothing wrong with re-sharing them, but you aren’t really helping yourself or your audience by sticking to the main stream. At best you’re amplifying, at worst you’re boring. Instead be patient and wait until you find the really good stuff that hasn’t already been shared by 10 other people, don’t just share for the sake of trying to be first. To focus your efforts, it helps to have a niche. It may take some time to figure out what that niche is, but it’s worth keeping it in mind until you figure it out.

3. Rate the content
Is it really unmissable? Is it just really good? Maybe it’s worth a read if you’re stuck on the train for a while? Some of the best curators, like Robin Good, add a rating to their curated content on Scoop.it. But before you jump in and copy them, ask yourself what this communicates to the audience. If you rate all your posts out of 10, are you ever likely to publish anything that rates less than 7? By definition it wouldn’t be worth it, so what kind of rating scale would make sense for your audience and your topic?

4. Reading/Viewing time
The first thing most us do after opening a YouTube link, is to look at the duration. We decide there and then to watch it, save it for later, or not to bother at all. This is useful information for your audience, so why not apply it to written content? Every post on blogging platform Medium includes this small piece of information. It helps you select content that fits the time you have available to read. If you take this simple step too, your audience will think you’re a considerate curator and it sets you apart from the majority.

5. Tell me why should I read this?
Start with why and make it brief. Why did you pick the content? What’s special about it? How does it relate to other important ideas and who should care about reading or watching it? This is the important value that a curator should add with every selection. Focus on the content not yourself, get to the point and make it quick. You’re trying to persuade people to check out the content.

There you go – five things, three of which are simple steps we can all take when curating anything. The other two are more about setting the right attitude. It’s not hard to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Start noticing the things that irritate and annoy you about other people’s content and think of ways to overcome them.

Post by: Sam Burrough (39 Posts)


Posted in blog
2 comments on “Five ways curators can improve user experience
  1. Mike Gantt says:

    How do you determine the length of time necessary to read? Is there a formula along the lines of x words = y minutes?

    • Sam Burrough says:

      Hi Mike for most pieces I just time how long it takes me to read it and add a few minutes, then mark it as <5mimns etc. You can probably work out a more accurate method, but as long as it’s roughly accurate, it’s a helpful piece of info for the reader. We all read at different speeds so it can never be that accirate

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