Heart of Steel – a BHF content design story

“We’re going to build a steel heart with space to engrave 150,000 names”. When I heard about the Heart of Steel my first thought was “we’re going to do what?” But that’s what the British Heart Foundation does. We push boundaries to raise funds for our life saving research. My role in the Heart of Steel project was to create a web presence that did justice to this ambitious idea.

What is the Heart of Steel?
The Heart of Steel is a monumental sculpture in Yorkshire in the shape of a heart. Donate to the British Heart Foundation and your name, or the name of someone you love, can be written on the Heart. Donations help fund our research into cures and treatments for heart and circulatory diseases, which kill 1 in 4 people in the UK. So far so good. My job was to work out how we could effectively tell the story of the Heart on the BHF website? To do that, I applied content design principles to the problem.
Content design starts with the user
Content design doesn’t mean writing good web copy. Instead it means putting yourself in the users’ shoes and producing content that is focused on what they need to know, not what you want to say. It’s true that you might meet your users’ need through written copy, but sometimes a video or graphic is best. To create a user-led content strategy for the Heart of Steel, I followed the BHF’s content production model
Why do you need this content and who is it for?
The Heart of Steel product owner brought representatives from across the business, such as marketing and digital for a kick off meeting. The rationale for the content was presented, KPIs and deadlines were set, and roles and responsibilities were defined.
Card sort
Cards sorts are a common content design tool. You write on cards or post it’s the key messages you think your users want to know. Next, sort these cards/post its into groupings and give them labels. I ran this exercise to give us the website structure we wanted for Heart of Steel.
Content development
Content producers/subject matter experts created the content to fit the website structure we’d created.
Website build and launch
The content was loaded in the CMS and launched to coincide with marketing plans.
What was the result?
By December 2018 the first batch of engravings, over 4,000 names, were placed on the Heart. The web content combined with the digital and social media marketing plans ensured the money raised by the Heart of Steel for the BHF’s life saving research was ahead of target. This project is not yet over, but the results so far demonstrate the value of collaborating with colleagues to apply content designs principles to a project. I am confident that BHF users will continue to see the Heart of Steel as a unique way to honour someone they love, celebrate a milestone or support an icon.

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Digital Product Manager
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