Also known as:
accessibilityinspirationslocalizationemailsacademymanager learningintercom

Writing guides

Writing for everything from accessibility to inspirations

Intercom messages

Intercom messages are messages that pop up while users are using Culture Amp. They’re used to inform users of new features, system outages, service updates, platform changes and to ask users for feedback. They’re a great marketing tool and help give the product a more human voice.

Keep these points in mind if you need to write an Intercom message:

  • Focus on the action. Prioritize the main thing you want the reader to take away. Make this the focus of your email.
  • Keep it short. Stick to your point and use active voice.
  • Make it visual. Include a small image if you need to highlight a change to the interface.
  • Prioritize the reader. Don’t tell them, “we’ve done this.” Tell them, “now you can do this.”
  • Make it read naturally. Do everything you can to reduce formality, reduce the reading level of your text. If you’re having trouble doing that, paste it sentence by sentence into the text analysis tool (or use Hemingway) so you can identify and improve the specific ones that are problematic.
  • Ask a content strategist. Have a content strategist read over the text for tone before you make it live.

Manager learning

Manager learning is dedicated to helping users find quick answers, expert ideas and tools for being a great manager. It’s a space designed for continual learning and is accessible through the platform once logged in.

The content will always be People Science-led and include content from our trusted partners. Content forms will be Culture Amp and partner produced written instructional pieces (taken from our action ideas and inspirations), videos, fact sheets and illustrations.

When you’re writing:

  • Write step-by-step, numbered instructions.
  • Write in short sentences and paragraphs.
  • Use lists to present alternatives or options within a step.
  • Commission an illustration, use video or fact sheet, if the information or tool is better conveyed this way.
  • Be clear on whether the content piece is for the manager or their team, and highlight as such for ‘You’ or ‘Your team’.
  • Level tag: label each piece of content for a beginner manager or experienced manager: foundation, advanced
  • Effort tag: consider the effort level or complexity of the task: low, medium, high
  • Time tag: give an approx. time to complete the task: 15 min, 1 hour, 1 day, 1+ day
  • Activity tag: consider if the task is for the manager or their team: you, your team.
  • If you add links be sure to include them in the body of the text, we don’t use ‘see this link’ instead we say “To build effective cultures, try Dr Rose Amber’s view which includes…”

Writing considerations for each part of the Manager learning

Categories page

When adding in a new category, they each need:

ItemDescriptionExample
One word titleClearly defines the categoryCoaching
Category introductionOne sentence on what this category meansGuide your direct report (team member) in how to manage their day-to-day working life and future growth potential.
Category explainer1-2 sentences on why this skill is important to a managerCoaching happens when a manager asks questions rather than offering advice or direction. Take this approach to grow your team member by listening, asking effective questions, empathizing, summarizing, reflecting, unlocking limiting beliefs and being open-minded.
Deep Dive topic headingEnticing title to introduce the skillAdopting a manager-as-coach approach
Deep dive descriptionOne sentence description of what the skill will teach youTurn your conversations with your team a supportive and productive dialogue
Deep dive contentInstructions on how to understand and apply the skillsConnect to the copy sheet for info
Please include links to any rich media in here (video, illustrations, fact sheets)

Ideas to action

These are taken from our Act inspirations. Please refer to the inspirations section of this guide.

Writing process

  • Think about the manager’s mindset. How do they feel when they reach this piece of help content? Consider their stresses, frustrations, and desires in this moment.
  • Identify their goal within Manager learning. What does the manager want to achieve when they land on this page? Play close attention to the titles of your content and align them with the specific goals of the reader. Make sure you pay close attention to the voice and tone of writing.
  • Tighten up the text. Shorten or break up sentences wherever you can. Use the rules outlined in the grammar and punctuation portion of this guide.
  • Make it read naturally. Do everything you can to reduce formality, reduce the reading level of your text. If you’re having trouble doing that, paste it sentence by sentence into the text analysis tool (or use Hemingway) so you can identify and improve the specific ones that are problematic.
  • Check it twice. Proofread the message, then have a writer check it.

Accessibility

The Culture Amp platform caters to a wide range of users with differing mental and physical abilities. As we move towards making copy across the product more accessible, it’s important to keep in mind that writing for accessibility is more than just ensuring that the text is easy to read. Here are some basic rules:

  • Think about your page and content structure. Screen readers traditionally read from left to right and from top to bottom. Make sure you structure your content on the page keeping that in mind. When it comes to tables, keep them simple and ensure that each column has a heading that can be easily read.
  • Don’t rely solely on images. Images are a great way to enhance your design, but they’re not helpful to people who are visually impaired. Don’t rely on the image to get your message across. Include alt copy that describes what you’re asking the user to take away from that page.
  • Watch your links. Avoid hyperlinking language like “click here” as it won’t indicate where the user should go.
  • Pay close attention to your empty states and error messages. When a user encounters these components in the platform, make sure that they can perform an action based on it. Saying “error 404” is just as frustrating to someone who is visually impaired as it is to someone who isn’t.
  • Be descriptive. There’s a difference between being descriptive and overburdening your design with copy. Make sure that every word counts and guides users towards achieving a goal.
  • Use descriptive labels in forms. Instead of placeholder text, use descriptive labels and helper text where needed to provide further guidance to the users. Relying solely on placeholder text tends to make forms less accessible.
  • Be simple. Use plan language that everyone can understand. Leave the academic writing and jargon at the door.

Localization

Culture Amp currently uses Smartling to translate the platform to over 40 languages. Localization can often become a tricky issue as every language uses its own unique set of rules, punctuation, conjugation and tense.

To make sure we set our translators up for an easier translation process, there are some basic points we need to keep in mind:

  • Watch your colloquialisms and metaphors – many of these don’t not always translate well in another language. This is also true for different English dialects. For example, “easy as” is something we’d hear in New Zealand, but not necessarily in the US.
  • Watch your “ing” words. Not only do “ing” words or “gerunds” tend to make your writing clunky, they’re also difficult to translate. For example, say “Design a survey easily with our survey designer” instead of “Designing a survey is easy with our survey designer.”
  • Sentence length. Make sure you limit your sentences to 20 words or less. While a sentence in English may have 30 words, the same sentence could take up 40 words in another language.
  • Voice and tone. Our tone at Culture Amp is friendly but not overly familiar. Follow it and stick to it. This is the trickiest part of writing and a content strategist is always available to help you out.
  • Use active voice. As a general rule, we use active voice across the platform. This also has a huge impact on how easy it is to translate what we’ve got.
  • Be clear. Make sure all your sentences get across your points clearly and simply without getting convoluted. Don’t bury the point you’re trying to make.
  • Be mindful of words that have a double meaning. For example, the word “right” could mean politically right leaning, correct, a direction. See if you can find an alternative, or structure your sentence to ensure clarity on the intended meaning of the word.
  • Refer to the glossary. Our glossary of terms is full of definitions for commonly used words across Culture Amp. It’s also a great place to check or reference spelling and capitalization.

Inspirations

Inspirations are suggestions and ideas on how to act on focus areas. They help improve scores for survey questions that are part of Culture Amp’s survey templates. We currently have hundreds of inspirations that are written by Campers, People Scientists, partners, thought leaders, coaches and HR specialists.

Our inspirations currently have the following parts:

  • Name/ Title of Inspiration: This must be 3-5 words (44 characters max) and should grab the attention of the reader.
  • Headline/ Excerpt: This must be 5-10 words (78 characters max) and should succinctly explain the basic idea of the inspiration.
  • Body : The body consists of three main components – an intro, a why (how this is useful to the reader) and the instructions (step-by-step points on how to easily implement the inspirations). Keep it to 600–800 words. The body can include the following; further explanation or theory, context, action steps, timeline to see a result, potential outcome and if any guidance from others (e.g. Manager/ HR) and links to any resources and/ or models and diagrams for frameworks.

Here are some basic rules to keep in mind when writing inspirations:

  • Stick to the guide. Make sure you follow all grammar and mechanics rules outlined in this language guide.
  • Use a verb. Start each inspiration with a verb (e.g. try, start, implement, introduce) to encourage users to take action.
  • Don’t forget the details. If an Inspiration is targeted at a company level but you also want to show how it would be done for individual teams, add a blank row and then 1-2 sentences that start with “Team Level: ...”
  • Watch your links. When placing a hyperlink into your copy include it as part of a sentence. Avoid ‘click here’ or click-bait language. Do not link to lead generation forms on your website or gated content.

Legal content

Culture Amp has very specific and strict policies around privacy, copyright and terms of use. The copy for these is written by our legal team. If you’re considering writing any legal content, we strongly recommend you run it by your local legal team first to ensure they give you the okay from a legality perspective. After this, check the content to make sure that our users can understand the message you’re trying to get across.

In general, we try to keep our legal content pleasant and friendly without losing any precision. Keep the following in mind:

  • Be clear. Leave legal jargon and industry terms at the door. Write with clarity using words that any user can understand. Read it out loud. If it sounds academic, it probably is.
  • Use definitions. If there’s a legal term that has no simple alternative, define the word first before you use it across your writing.
  • Use contractions. Contractions make your writing more friendly.
  • Ask a content strategist. Legal content can confound the best of writers. If you’re in doubt, have a content strategist take a look at it.

Technical content

At Culture Amp, we write a lot of technical content for the Academy. This content helps users navigate the platform, configure settings, design surveys and get updates on what’s new in the product. In other words, every article is a tool to help someone use the product to achieve a goal.

When you’re writing technical content:

  • Use the rules outlined in the grammar and punctuation portion of this guide.
  • Write step-by-step, numbered instructions.
  • Write in short sentences and paragraphs that are easily scannable.
  • Use images wherever they logically make sense.
  • Don’t forget to maintain your articles in the Academy over time.
  • Make sure you proofread and post in the #feedback_academy channel on Slack if you want your work edited or sense checked.

The writing process

  • Think about the user. How do they feel when they reach this piece of help content? Consider their stresses, frustrations and desires in this moment.
  • Identify their goal within the product. Define what the user wants to do in around five words. Shape this into a title for your help article.
  • Map the process. Give the user a series of numbered steps to get to their end goal. Use a note to highlight information which is not a direct part of the process of achieving the user’s goal, but will help them complete that process.
  • Make it read naturally. Do everything you can to reduce formality, reduce the reading level of your text. If you’re having trouble doing that, paste it sentence by sentence into the text analysis tool (or use Hemingway) so you can identify and improve the specific ones that are problematic.

Transactional emails

Transactional emails are usually sent from the platform to alert users about changes to their permissions/capabilities, to remind users to take a survey, or to inform users that an auto-upload has completed. Currently, we have both uneditable emails with standard copy, and editable emails that can be personalized by our users.

To write transactional emails, keep these points in mind:

  • Focus on the action. Prioritize the main thing you want the reader to take away. Make this the focus of your email.
  • Prioritize the reader. Don’t tell them, “we’ve done this.” Tell them, “now you can do this.”
  • Don’t forget the Academy. Avoid providing advice or instructions in the email itself. Instead, create a piece of Academy content to which you can link from the email.
  • Keep it short. Stick to your point and use active voice.
  • Make it read naturally. Do everything you can to reduce formality, reduce the reading level of your text. If you’re having trouble doing that, paste it sentence by sentence into the text analysis tool (or use Hemingway) so you can identify and improve the specific ones that are problematic.
  • Avoid tech speak. Try to avoid using jargon and industry terms that are unfamiliar outside of our industry. This also applies to words that could get caught up in spam filters, for example ‘please’, ‘purchase’, ‘now’, etc.
  • Check it twice. Proofread and then show your system emails to a content strategist, ideally before you make them live.