Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula to creating great web content. But there are things you can advise your content producers to check or adhere to safeguard high standards and encourage excellence.
No one checklist will be 100% appropriate for everyone. You may need to add or change things to suit your organisation, your content strategy, your needs and your audience. This is just a basis…
Before you begin
- Objectives: Your objectives could be to sell services/products, provide a customer service function, encourage repeat visits, promote conversation between you and the audience, or amongst the audience themselves or make efficiency gains for you or them. Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, it will be easier it articulate it and cut the waffle.
- Audience: You may have more than one kind of audience, for example a health charity appeals to eventers, donors, campaigners, patients, researchers etc. Adapting your writing to each in order to connect and engage with them increases the potential for impact, and is customer centric.
- Need: Content for the sake of content may actually work against you achieving your goals. More content does not necessarily equal more donations/more sales/more leads etc. Better content does.
- Timely/ relevant/useful /credible: If it isn’t, can you make it so, or defer it?
- Inform, extract or interact: Do you require your content to inform the user, extract a response (call us, sign up, donate) or cause an interaction (fill in a form, download info)?
Writing for the web
- Depending on your web style you may want to advise your content producers to write to certain guidelines, to assist with producing web friendly content that is scannable (concise, short paragraphs, start with the conclusion, use sub-headings and lists if applicable)
More things we can do
- Search: Do you have a search strategy or SEO guidelines and need to check keywords and/or meta descriptions before publishing?
- Links: Having links can support the user’s journey but if the context surrounding a link doesn’t prepare them for what will open when they click on a link, or if the link is broken, they will be frustrated, and you will lose credibility.
- Images: Do you may have governance such as avoiding ‘stock’ images, adhering to certain brand guidelines, positions or dimensions and including alt text?
- Examples/demos/case studies: Do you have guidelines about including these, if it meets yours or your audiences objectives?
- No dead ends: Do you always want to offer ways to extend the user journey by serving up related links, cross-selling other products, having a call to action or way to continue the conversation elsewhere (phone, email, form etc.)?
Make it ours
- To make your content sound like you or ‘your brand’ you may have brand or tone of voice guidelines that you want to check new content against.
Before you submit
- Housekeeping: It’s obvious that content needs to be proofread, fact checked, link checked and downloads need to work, but unless you ask people to check this before publishing, it may not happen.
- Sign off: Does your content publishing workflow mean you are the last check before go live? Does this mean that content needs to have been signed off by other departments such as legal, compliance or brand?
- Correct formatting: Do you have governance that relates to page layouts and formatting?
- Distribution and promotion plans: If the content is about to go live, how are you going to ensure it has the most impact, or reaches your audience?