Stand Out From the Rest

Getting results with business templates

In today’s digital world, clients expect quality content at every touchpoint. Many organizations now struggle with a gap between business specialists and design skills and find it challenging to upgrade their content delivery operations to reach the next level. We believe that organizations like yours can get an edge if they resist the temptation to rush a cosmetic refresh to their templates and instead focus on collaborative content creation, enabling the creative gap to be filled by enthusiastic contribution.

Here are a few strategic topics to consider if you are running a change project in your organization that involves business templates:

Thinking of your templates as products your team interacts with every day

If there is a strong business case for implementing better templates, you likely want these templates to be used often, which means the experience of using them will impact performance and the mood of your team(s). That is more an opportunity than a warning. Taking time to understand your team’s needs and what new functionalities can become pivotal to them can lead to faster adoption of your change program. It could also be helpful to consider your template library as a “living and breathing” project with incremental releases. Like any other product, a template library of this sort can have a team that manages and maintains it. If they do a good job, this may eventually lead to an overall acceptance of the new “product” as a trusted source for productivity and knowledge.

Making better use of integrations and data

Besides rescuing PDFs from thousands of e-mails, AI can now turn raw data into natural-sounding sentences that are ready to present to others and suggest visualizations and even metaphors that make numbers easier to understand.

The number one reason integrations and data matter is that they enable better contextualization, which helps create more relevant documents for your customers. Many template system providers are looking to integrate with platforms such as Salesforce and convert real-time data into chunks of information. The proper templates allow you to capture that information and add it to the client narrative.

Start by reviewing your data sources and app integrations that are already at your disposal. You may find quite a few opportunities for automation and aligning your templates with your data.

Improving your workflow and collaboration mechanics

Now that working on the same document via cloud has also become mainstream, many people can’t imagine going back to sending documents over e-mail. However, this is just the beginning. Opportunities for better hybrid collaboration are on the rise, with apps like Notion introducing cloud parts to the masses and Microsoft Loop promising to integrate that functionality with the Office suite. This level of work sync is more powerful than it looks: professionals on the delivery end, such as designers, no longer have to wait days or even weeks to get a proofread document before they can work on it. 

Thinking about templates as a framework for collaboration and work efficiency has great potential to change your template game. For a start, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel but focus on enabling one small change at a time, such as standardizing co-working on shared documents and creating templates that also help with thinking processes such as brainstorming. The main advantage of creating templates for processes is that it makes them concrete and allows your team to manipulate the template to adjust the process to their needs and vice-versa.

Making content excellence a priority

One of the main traps of templates is that they can quickly become filled with generic text. The trouble with generic content is that it feels disconnected from the audience, and they will lose interest fast. When you include text in templates, consider offering variations of the tone of voice and guidelines on how and when to use it. Be creative and include content “moments”, such as full-page highlights, short stories, or unique keynote-like ideas. You can also hire professionals with a journalism background to help with content editing. Writers and designers are a powerful duo; we need only look at advertising agencies to see that. 

Remember that generic content lacks enthusiasm in a systematic, hard-to-ignore way that will make your competitor’s content seem better.

Getting the basics right with design

Sometimes we expect to create new content starting with generic design placeholders, but we quickly run into a wall when we need to make more than a few visual changes.

However, there is no point in having an extensive brand system if regular people cannot use it to express themselves. To achieve that, you need to provide the right mix of flexibility and constraints. Offer people easy ways to change the design without altering it too much. Show examples or create templates of varying complexity so people can visually comprehend how visual elements work with one another. Communicate the aspects of design that are flexible and those that are not.

Another critical aspect of designing templates is implementing solid accessibility guidelines. There are visual properties, such as contrast, that don’t only help people with visual impairments but also older readers or even people that have had a long day at work and have a hard time focusing. From the client’s perspective, research shows that more people than ever get a chance to review a potential business partner and their content, increasing the likelihood that you will run into someone with some disability. Set up your templates to be as inclusive as your policies. Start with contrast, color, and naming conventions, and you will soon find out that users with no apparent disability will also recognize the improvement.

Wrapping Up

Business templates are one of the foundations for business transformation. They serve the vital role of putting best practices and efficiencies in the hands of everyone in the organization, fueling personal achievement and results. Suppose you believe your team already performs at an excellent level. In that case, it might be an even bigger reason to empower them to extend their contribution to other vital areas while keeping your business aligned and future-proof.

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