Amanda Costello, award-winning speaker and content strategist at University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development, will present the workshop Better Stakeholder Wrangling at edUi 2018. We wanted to get to know her a little better, so we asked her a few questions.
edUi 2018 is our tenth conference! Thinking back to 2009, what has changed and what’s still true in our industry?
I feel like the technological changes that I’ve seen, especially related to mobile, responsive design, and accessibility, have driven a more mindful and consistent consideration of the user. In 2009, I had never heard of content strategy, but when I saw Kristina Halvorson speak in 2010 about it, I felt like something clicked into place. I had a term and a discipline that fit a way I already liked to work with the web!
Ten years later, the biggest truisms remain that working with people, be they our users, our colleagues, our stakeholders, or our clients, remains the biggest challenge with the biggest risk if it’s screwed up, and the biggest reward if done well. Though, really, this is one of the biggest truisms of…human history, not just our industry!
If your professional life was a movie title, what would it be and why?
Tools before Strategy? Heading for Tragedy: One Woman’s Struggle: The Amanda Costello Story: A Lifetime Original Movie.
In only three words or phrases, what is your worst UX story?
- Gravedigger placeholder image. (And if by “worst,” you also mean “best.”)
- Critical document links point to desktop files.
- PDF of web page content directs users back to the page they came from. All content is the same.
What are you going to discuss at your workshop at edUi 2018?
The practice of and dedication to the so-called “soft skills” of active listening, goal setting, navigating conflict, and building trust are crucial in our jobs and industry. However—as I touched on above—these have always been some of the trickiest things for us to handle as human beings and also are often assumed to be things “we should just know.” My workshop derives much of its foundation from methods taught to counseling professionals, and attendees will come away with skills, activities, and structures to bring back and put into action right away.
There also will be a good chunk of time for specific Q&A for, “Well, what should I do in this absolutely bonkers situation?” Don’t worry. I got ya.
What is the biggest misconception about organizational hierarchy and working with stakeholders?
That it’s impossible to change and that you can’t have an impact as a single person. Connecting with other people as humans builds tremendous amount of goodwill and confidence. Sussing out commonalities that you can lean on when things get heated or fractious is tremendously helpful and can be done despite siloed bureaucratic systems.
About the Author
Amanda Costello is the lead content strategist in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), where she works with college administrators, directors, and department-level content strategists to guide comprehensive strategy.
Amanda is an award-winning speaker on working with content specialists and the web, building web teams, and sharing ideas to do good work. She enjoys filling out forms because it feels like taking a test where she knows all the answers.
Amanda will present the workshop Better Stakeholder Wrangling at edUi 2018.