The time needed to get content from brief to published on a website redesign project is often underestimated.
Have you ever found yourself:
- In perpetual feedback loops
- Waiting for approval
- Unsure of whether content was accurate and relevant
- Uncertain if the content is in-line with the style guide
- Confused over who was responsible for reviewing content
If you answered yes to any of the above, read on—I’ve outlined a simple process for reviewing your website content to help wipe out these pains.
Define Roles and responsibilities
Having a well defined content production process is one thing (a good start). But that process is nothing without a clear understanding of who is responsible for getting the process done.
In the case of reviewing content, the job may fall to:
- Subject Matter Experts
- Senior Editor
- Marketing Manager
The task could even be split out across several roles. For example, the Subject Experts may be asked to check if the content is factually accurate, on message, and complete. The Senior Editor (role) may then check if the content is well written, consistent with other content, and applies the style guide and house rules.
In our Content Strategy for the Website Redesign Process masterclass, based on timings stated by hundreds of participants across the classes, the average time it takes to review a page of web copy (at least 750 words) is 1 to 2 hours. If you scale that up to a whole site, you can see how time consuming it can be.
The key is ensuring someone is responsible for this and that it is clear where they come in your defined workflow.
Getting ready for your review
Your team is assembled. Now onto the review itself. Where do you begin?
First you must be clear about what to review. Content stalls at the review stages when stakeholders are unclear on their role and the remit of other reviewers.
Create a content inventory (usually a spreadsheet outlining all of your existing content). By doing so you can assess the current state of play.
From here you can guide the reviewers and get them to ask the right questions about the content they are responsible for.
Define a process for reviewing existing content
Defining a process around content reviews allows you set out your ongoing approach to maintaining high-quality content.
Content review checklist
Each reviewer should be guided by some sort of checklist to ensure all content is reviewed properly:
- Does the content sufficiently help meet a validated, priority user need?
- Does it help meet a business communication goal?
- Is it redundant, out-of-date or trivial content (so called “ROT” content)?
- Is it at risk of “rotting”?
- Is it actually correct, on message, still saying the most important things?
- Are there any errors – typos, broken links, poor grammar?
- Does it follow the style guide – house rules, voice and tone?
- Is it duplicated elsewhere (word for word or the same topic)?
Be honest when answering these questions. It may be scary to think that you are creating a lot of work for yourself but the consequences of out of date, poorly written content breeds problems later on.
Content review outcomes
The reviewer should record one of these three decisions for each piece of content they look at:
Keep – all good and no updates required
Keep and revise – some updates are required to maintain the quality of the content
Remove or archive* – no longer meeting user needs and business goals
* You may need to archive content so it is no longer on the site but still available. There may be a legal requirement to do this.
If any content gaps reveal themselves during this process, record those too and add:
New – content needs to be written.
Once this task is complete you can begin to prioritise the content, assign people to it and get stuck into production mode. If you need help, we of course recommend GatherContent as a handy tool to get all of you content, writers and reviewers in one place 😉
Apply strict review dates to content
You need a way of ensuring and checking content is being reviewed on a regular basis. Waiting for someone else to alert you to poor content is not a great tactic.
Some organisations set different review lengths for different types of content. A product page may need to be reviewed quarterly, while a company history page may only need to be reviewed annually. This is largely determined by the likelihood of content falling out of date.
Anyone assigned as a reviewer, such as a subject expert, needs to be on board. Ideally reviewing content should be a formal part of their job description so it actually happens.
If you use GatherContent to manage your content, you can set review dates for specific pieces of content and assign them to the necessary people, they’ll be alerted with what they need to do and by when.
Take reviews seriously
Don’t ignore content once it has been published. All your hard work of planning and strategy can come undone quickly. You need to develop a process for reviewing content, make it clear who is responsible, decide how often your content will need to be reviewed. Embedding content reviews into your workflow, at regular intervals, is a good step towards future proofing your content.