In the summer of 2020, I began creating crossword and wordsearch puzzles for the Cannabis Life Network and Cannabis Digest. Each puzzle is imbedded in a 300+ word article and published to a WordPress site. For the user, both types of word games are digitally interactive, requiring only a click of a mouse; wordsearch puzzles can be rescrambled. Here is a case study outlining the complete design process.
Users & Audience
Who is my target audience?
Roles & Responsibilities
What was my role? Who else was involved?
Digital Media Tools
What tools were used? Why?
The Design Process
A rundown of what I did and why.
Outcome & Reflections
What was the end result? Did I achieve my goal?
The Cannabis Life Network is the leading source of breaking news and expert opinion on cannabis-related developments in North America. In February 2015, I began creating content for them and still do today. After a five years and over 150 published articles, I wanted to create a new way to delight and educate the audience. I noticed a problem space and in it, a potential opportunity.
Immediately, I had an idea to look into word games. I knew that I enjoyed playing them, as did a number of people in my social network; the same group of people also make up part of my reader base. Because of that connection, I started to research word games.
“Word Game downloads are expected to rise by 7 percent year-over-year on the App Store and 31 percent on Google Play in 2020. While its revenue share in the United States is projected to decrease, interest from global markets show an 18 percent and 22 percent increase in overall revenue in the App Store and Google Play Store, respectively.”
How might we educate, entertain and engage new and returning CLN readers with a word game that fits with the brand voice?
Considering the Audience
Once I defined the user, I had to consider the experience:
- Users come to the Cannabis Life Network expecting to read content; therefore, each game needed to include something worth reading.
- The average user might be oblivious to all the questions in a crossword puzzle and therefore needs the answers provided.
- Users expect to clearly understand when they have won.
Roles & Responsibilities
Once I finished researching word games, I approached CLN’s Managing Editor, as well as the company owner to discuss my findings. Other relevant internal stakeholders such as the web development team, were brought into the conversation. From there, word game articles were added to the website’s publishing content schedule.
In this project, my roles included UX Copywriter, Content Creator and Graphic Designer. I started by sourcing different plugins, consulting with stakeholders and confirming compatability with the web development team. Because of this direct involvement, I could create a content strategy.
As a UX Copywriter, I created the copy that fits within the user interface, the content strategy to accompany the design and connected with the development team.
I would research and choose puzzle topics, based on popular SEO tags. Following the content strategy, I would write the puzzle’s introduction, the questions and answers, and a follow-up filled with clues.
Each puzzle required a feature image, at the very minimum. In addition to sourcing or creating one on canva, I created animated gifs to congratulate a winner.
Digital Media Tools
I use Google Trends to search popular topics and related terms. Often, this is enough to provide me with direction for a topic.
I use Google Docs to record research notes, write and edit drafts, questions and answers. I use it specifically as it is cloud based, thus accessible from any device; and, because of the auto-save feature and history recovery. This ensures a non-destructive workflow.
When it comes to spelling and grammer, I feel confident. However, one can never be too careful.
I found site compatible, WordPress plug-ins that embedded puzzles into my articles. I make the puzzles in one section and include the congratulatory gif; from there, I generate a shortcode.
Before a final edit is prepared for publishing, I use a headline analyzer. This tool provides me with SEO insights and a score of the overall quality. Factors such as power words that evoke emotion, eye appeal and length are considered in this score.
I use the premium version of Canva to ethically source images, as well as create my own. These are used as either feature or accompany images. In addition, I use Canva to create animated videos that I convert into gifs. On occasion, I have created graphic designs in Figma.
Publishing Schedule Program
Once the article edits are complete and the puzzle has been embedded, I schedule it for publishing. To do this, I enter all its required details into a collaborative, cloud based data spreadsheet software program.
The Design Process – Step-by-step
- Use Google Analytics for inspiration
- Brainstorm random topic (good or bad)
Research Key Points
- Research the topic and make notes of key points
- Preform due diligence in reviewing information sources
- Using words to sketch the article, as well as the puzzle questions and answers
- Expected imperfections
Puzzle & Graphics
- Source and/or create images and gif for the puzzle.
- Create the crossword puzzle manually and generate the shortcode.
- Review the flow and voice of the copy
- Does the article compliment the puzzle?
- Final run through of the article to ensure all points are relevant
- Spelling and grammer check
- Checking the puzzle’s overall appearance and functionality
Testing & Review
- Post article on social network and review the engagement response
- 24 hours after the puzzle is published, use the website to review the puzzle view count
- When applicable, discuss the puzzle and viewer engagement with CLN stakeholders
As soon as CLN started publishing the puzzles, the response was immediately positive. Viewers from the CLN global reader base quickly caught on to this new style, as was evident in the site analytics.
It wasn’t long before the word games were getting celebrity attention. A crossword puzzle written noticed by the official instagram account for Cheech and Chong. They re-posted a crossword puzzle that I wrote and published; it recieved 1,186 likes.
As of today, I have written and published:
- Never edit during the drafting process – It’s a rabbit hole that steal a lot of your time. Plus, the copy created it the drafting process can be used for future inspiration.
- Always check for multiple sources before considering a piece of information. Then, click on the links to verify the information – listed citations can often lead to 404 pages.