What a content designer can do that ChatGPT can’t

Is ChatGPT coming for your job?

When ChatGPT launched, we wondered if it could mimic the art of content design. Could it replicate the voice of the writer and the empathetic qualities that are intrinsically human? The answer is: ‘no’ and ‘not any time soon’.

Now that the hype has settled on OpenAI’s ChatGPT, we can take a step back to assess the limitations of artificial intelligence (AI). We can see more clearly that the skills honed by a content designer are irreplaceable.

Here are some examples of what a content designer can do that ChatGPT can’t.

A rich and unending source of inspiration

ChatGPT relies on pre-existing data and patterns to find the answers to your questions. It has the whole internet at its artificial fingertips. But that’s where it stops. It can’t go beyond the web and step into a person’s shoes.

Content designers draw inspiration from many sources, including:

  • personal experiences
  • physical and live interactions
  • emotions
  • cultural nuances
  • context.

Because of our lived experience, we can attach more meaning and depth to statistics and figures. The insights we extract from data are enriched by our connection to people. It’s this connection that enables us to improve the overall user experience in a way that ChatGPT never could.

You can ask a machine to enhance a piece of content, and it will provide grammar and punctuation corrections. It will even restructure information and distil content so it’s easier to read.

However, ChatGPT cannot:

  • change the language to suit the specific regional or cultural nuances of your audience
  • access and consider the words you’ve used consistently throughout the product lifecycle
  • conduct interviews with your users to test how they perceive your content.

A content designer’s personal touch adds an authentic tone to their work. They can easily tap into their source of inspiration, product and business goals. Their approach is more in-depth, comprehensive and considered, going beyond the reach of the machine.

Understanding context

ChatGPT operates within the parameters of learned patterns, making it susceptible to generating content that may lack sensitivity or cultural awareness. It can also source and serve up incorrect and fabricated information. A content designer can check the accuracy, legitimacy, validity and truth.

Human writers possess the innate ability to navigate the subtleties of language, adapting their tone, style, and content to suit the unique demands of a given context. This adaptability is crucial in crafting content that is not only grammatically correct but also socially and culturally relevant.

Trends and cultural norms can flip on a dime, and humans are much more agile when it comes to change. They can pivot instantly without waiting for reprogramming or code changes to feed the update.

By being aware of context, content designers create empathy for their audience. They always think of and advocate for the user. They put themselves in the shoes of their users and take the time to understand their ever-changing perspectives and needs.

Knowing your audience takes time. ChatGPT is all about speed, spewing information out within seconds. Human connection and context are where it falls short. Ultimately, it fails to provide and consider a complete picture of the user.

ChatGPT query box displaying message 'ChatGPT can make mistakes. Consider checking important information.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a facet of human writing that sets it apart from the capabilities of AI. While ChatGPT can recognise and produce responses based on emotional cues, it lacks emotional depth.

Human emotions are complex, layered, and often contradictory; content designers can convey these nuances through words. By definition, content design is the intentional use of words to help people complete a task or solve a problem.

A content designer will carefully consider the words they choose to align content to a user’s:

  • emotions
  • experience
  • expectations
  • understanding.

Intuition and creativity

The role of intuition in the creative process cannot be overstated. Content designers possess a unique intuition that guides them in making creative choices. They experiment with language and take risks that may not conform to established patterns — the patterns that govern AI.

Through the design process, content designers apply various techniques to create delightful user experiences. They use ‘blue sky thinking’, user story mapping and interviews. These techniques think outside the box, consider the user journey and speak directly with users.

Working without limitations (divergence) and then coming together to work within boundaries (convergence) is all part of the creative process. This approach is not wired into ChatGPT.

Applying intuition and creativity establishes content design as a form of artistry.

How content designers can use ChatGPT

While ChatGPT has its limitations, there are still ways it can be embraced and used as a writing aid. The word ‘aid’ is key.

Idea generation

Have you ever encountered the ‘blank page’ problem? ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for brainstorming and generating new ideas. Writers can prompt the model with a topic or theme, and ChatGPT can offer content examples to help content designers break through creative blocks.

Content that ChatGPT can generate includes:

  • blog post ideas
  • article drafts
  • research overviews
  • content summaries
  • keyword lists.

We can use AI as a starting point from which we refine and expand upon.

Query in ChatGPT, 'give research examples of why complex words are hard to read'. ChatGPT generates ideas and research

Of course, with idea generation, you need to have a solid starting point. The more you refine and specify your questions, the better the output of ChatGPT. So, start broad and the ask more queries that expand upon your initial topic.

ChatGPT query, 'provide a summary of why complex words are hard to read.' Example of a content summary query for idea generation

Desktop research

ChatGPT can be used to gather information on a topic quickly. It can clarify research on various subjects. Content designers can use it to replace Google Search, asking it to provide insights on specific areas of interest.

In ChatGPT, particular questions are helpful to explore research. However, it does have its limitations. For example, at the time of this article, ChatGPT was asked to ‘Give a summary of the latest updates to WCAG’ but only provided updates before 2022. It could not access the latest data for 2024.

On topics like accessibility, being up to date is critical. Lagging 2 years behind spreads misinformation and inaccuracies.

In this example, we need the expert eye of the content designer to make sense of information and analyse it for irrelevance and factual correctness.

ChatGPT query, 'give a summary of the latest updates to WCAG' an example of desktop research.

Over time, ChatGPT’s access to data will improve. But until then, asking for deep and specific research insights may prove challenging.

Reviews and edits

ChatGPT can assist in the editing process and act as a peer reviewer. Content designers can use it as a virtual writing assistant to enhance the overall quality of their work.

Edits ChatGPT can provide include:

  • grammar and punctuation
  • spelling
  • sentence structure
  • tone of voice
  • word choice.

Here’s an example of a query on grammatical corrections:

ChatGPT query on reviewing content for grammatical corrections.

Here’s an example of a query focusing on tone of voice:

ChatGPT query on adding a different tone of voice to existing content.

Here’s an example of how ChatGPT applies plain English:

A ChatGPT query on rewriting content in plain English

But beware of the type of information you feed ChatGPT. The content you give it is used to improve its language model. Your conversations, queries and personal details are stored in the system. This includes your email address, device, IP address and location. We recommend not giving ChatGPT any sensitive, protected or proprietary information.

The skills of content designers are irreplaceable

Technology has enhanced and improved the work of writers. With the emergence of AI writing aids like Grammarly, we sped up the peer review process. At times, we even eliminated it. So why should ChatGPT be viewed any differently than a helping artificial hand?

ChatGPT can undoubtedly generate text based on patterns learned from vast data. It can access large amounts of data that no human ever could. Yet, it still can’t replicate the unique touch of a content designer. That special touch is personal, emotional and contextual to the human experience.

We are yet to develop robots and IA that are sentient beings. So, a world where content designers are replaced is still far off. We suggest everyone can use the OpenAI model as an aid rather than a replacement for the content designer.

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