John Ellison

Day 60: Writing Content For Training Project Playback

3 min read

On Day 60, I spent most of the day distilling the Problemscape and writing content for the upcoming training project playback on Day 63. James Box had kindly provided us with a series of questions that each concept should address during the playback, and I setup a template so we could structure our content accordingly.

Here were the questions James asked us to answer:

  • Who are we trying to help?
  • What problems are we trying to solve?
  • How could we respond to these problems (value propositions)?
  • Why are we the right people to pursue this?
  • What is the opportunity size? (Competitors, market size)
  • If we wanted to take this further, what would we do next?
  • Where might this lead us eventually? (What's the vision?)
  • Why should we do this?

This task was also a good opportunity for me to read through all the content that Andy P had written regarding the concepts he had been focusing on, and it allowed me to make another pass through our competitor research to validate assumptions we were making about competitor offerings.

Setting The Problem Stage

Last week I spent most of my time focusing on how to articulate the concepts in form of a value proposition or elevator pitch. Upon presenting the concepts in that manner, I received a lot of feedback about the value of setting an appropriate context for the problems we are proposing to solve.

This was great feedback and one that I sorely needed. In writing about the problems I was trying to solve, it seemed like everything became much more clear and made total sense.

Finding Inspiration

During my research, I had stashed a few TED talks in my Evernote notebook, and so I used this opportunity to read through the talks' transcriptions and extract relevant language. There was one talk in particular that seemed to be very helpful in framing the problem.

It is a talk by a guy named Sugata Mitra, called Build a School in the Cloud. I've embedded it here because I think it is an amazing video that deserves to be watched by anyone interested in the world of education.

Why Us?

One of the questions James rightly asked us to answer in our concept pitches was "Why Us?". Here's a snippet of what I wrote for one of our concepts:

Clearleft was founded by individuals who learn by doing; Clearleft was founded with a belief in sharing what you learn. The combination of experiential learning and knowledge sharing has positioned Clearleft as a pioneer within the industry time and time again.

In the first era, Clearleft emerged as a leader in accessibility and web standards. But then the mission of usability and user experience design took reigns.

On the precipice of a new era, Clearleft has an opportunity to pioneer unchartered territory once again.

What would happen if we applied the learning from our 10-year journey to the world of design education? What would happen if we migrated away from doing great things to teaching others how to do great things?

Over the past few weeks, we have asked ourselves these questions time and time again. Out of a human-centered design process came an answer that rang loud and clear and resonated deeply within in our bones: Chorus.


I think I should have explored these questions far earlier in the project process because I found them immensely helpful. Maybe the work I did to clarify the concepts in the form of a proposition paid off, but it was definitely difficult to find the right combination of phrasing, positioning and tone.