Complexity made simple for the Open Data Institute

Complexity made simple for the Open Data Institute

To convert casual readers into loyal customers and supporters you must convince them it’s worthwhile investing their time. Yet while the aims of most businesses are straightforward, how and why you do what you do is often much more complex, and it’s probably what really makes you unique.

Take the Open Data Institute (ODI) for example. Their ambitious plan to unlock the value of data sounds straightforward. But the process of discovering what kind of data people have and helping them publish it for social, environmental and political change is a bit more complex.

Open Data Institute's data certificate home page

Open Data Institute’s data certificate’s home page

That’s why they invented their Open Data Certificates website with an interactive questionnaire to educate and provoke questions about the best ways to share data. The ODI invited me to improve their questions, help text and write copy for their web pages (designed by White October).

Why they approached me as their freelance copywriter in the first place might sound familiar. As experts, they felt too close to the detail to be able to articulate it simply enough. They also had limited time and the other usual priorities competing for their attention.

My goal was to write plain English copy focused on readers’ priorities. Copy is phrased in simple terms that are easy to understand, with supportive help text to elaborate and explain the purpose of each question. Promotional copy on the Home and About page help put the whole thing into context and convince readers to sign up.

The end result neatly fits the brief too; I crafted copy that’s progressive and positive. At the back of my mind throughout this copywriting project was creating something that follows the ODI’s mission – to act as a catalyst for change, a starting point that aspires to grow stronger in time.

Thanks for all your work! You’ll be pleased to hear my team were very complementary about the copywriting, particularly on the About page.

(Quote from Jeni Tennison, Technical Director at the Open Data Institute.)

About page copywriting for Open Data Institute's data certificates

Open Data Institute’s data certificate About page

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