Three ways to get authors to produce better web content​

Three ways to get authors to produce better web content​

2 minute read

Three ways to get authors to produce better web content​

2 minute read

Three ways to get authors to produce better web content​

Robert Mills

Head of Content, GatherContent

If you are hiring writers to create your website content, or assigning that responsibility to someone within your own team, it's important to make it as easy as possible for those writers to write what's needed and to deliver the content on time.

What's the goal?

The most effective content will:

  • be authentic and consistent
  • follow the content style guide
  • be written in an appropriate voice and tone
  • meet a business goal
  • meet a user need
  • be the correct length/format

That's a lot for any author to keep in mind when actually writing the content, but you can make it easier for them with a few key considerations.

1. Providing an effective brief to the writers

It's standard practice for website redesign projects to have a brief, of course! But they often don't include specific notes relating to the content that is needed. An effective content brief would inform your authors of:

  • the purpose of the content (why)
  • who the audience is that it is being written for (who)
  • the deadline for the content (when)
  • details of each part of the content needed such as title, body copy, bio etc (what)
  • information about the production workflow such as who can contribute, review and approve content

The more thorough your brief is, the more context your writers will have. Take the time to provide considered briefs and you'll spend less time going back and forth clarifying or editing content.

2. Keeping writers on track with guidelines

If you have content guidelines, you're half way there, and your writers should love you for it too. The guidelines can be used to help authors write content that is:

  • in the brand voice and tone
  • adheres to specific terminology and language
  • written in the correct tense
  • written as per the localised dialect (organisation or organization)
  • the required length for the intended design

The best guidelines show as well as tell, giving contextual examples that the authors can refer to when they're unsure about something during the writing process.It will help if the guidelines are front of mind when your authors are writing. Emailing them a PDF or handing them a dusty printed manual may not be effective. If you use a tool like GatherContent, you can embed these guidelines into the content templates you create so the information is provided to authors at the very point that they need it.

3. Educating writers about structure and technology

It can be helpful to inform your authors of where the content is being published. Not the website itself, but via whatever Content Management System (CMS) you have chosen.By knowing the technology for publishing the content they are writing, authors can structure the content from the get-go in a way that makes the act of getting the content into the CMS and published to the website as painless as possible.This is a good opportunity to bridge the gap between content, design and development, and get all three teams/skills working together with content in mind. Authors can structure the content so it maps to the CMS seamlessly. This means it won't 'break' the design or website and there won't be time wasted having to restructure and reorder the content.GatherContent is a great tool to facilitate this process as authors can create content Templates that will map directly to the CMS (and you could even use our API or connectors to import the content direct to your CMS, saving even more time).

Everyone's a winner

Not only will these methods make your authors job easier, it will create a smoother production environment. With more content delivered on time, in the correct format and style, you'll save time that would have been spend going back and forth for edits and approval. Informing your authors as much as possible upfront means they can get on with writing better content that will benefit both the business and the users.

If you are hiring writers to create your website content, or assigning that responsibility to someone within your own team, it's important to make it as easy as possible for those writers to write what's needed and to deliver the content on time.

What's the goal?

The most effective content will:

  • be authentic and consistent
  • follow the content style guide
  • be written in an appropriate voice and tone
  • meet a business goal
  • meet a user need
  • be the correct length/format

That's a lot for any author to keep in mind when actually writing the content, but you can make it easier for them with a few key considerations.

1. Providing an effective brief to the writers

It's standard practice for website redesign projects to have a brief, of course! But they often don't include specific notes relating to the content that is needed. An effective content brief would inform your authors of:

  • the purpose of the content (why)
  • who the audience is that it is being written for (who)
  • the deadline for the content (when)
  • details of each part of the content needed such as title, body copy, bio etc (what)
  • information about the production workflow such as who can contribute, review and approve content

The more thorough your brief is, the more context your writers will have. Take the time to provide considered briefs and you'll spend less time going back and forth clarifying or editing content.

2. Keeping writers on track with guidelines

If you have content guidelines, you're half way there, and your writers should love you for it too. The guidelines can be used to help authors write content that is:

  • in the brand voice and tone
  • adheres to specific terminology and language
  • written in the correct tense
  • written as per the localised dialect (organisation or organization)
  • the required length for the intended design

The best guidelines show as well as tell, giving contextual examples that the authors can refer to when they're unsure about something during the writing process.It will help if the guidelines are front of mind when your authors are writing. Emailing them a PDF or handing them a dusty printed manual may not be effective. If you use a tool like GatherContent, you can embed these guidelines into the content templates you create so the information is provided to authors at the very point that they need it.

3. Educating writers about structure and technology

It can be helpful to inform your authors of where the content is being published. Not the website itself, but via whatever Content Management System (CMS) you have chosen.By knowing the technology for publishing the content they are writing, authors can structure the content from the get-go in a way that makes the act of getting the content into the CMS and published to the website as painless as possible.This is a good opportunity to bridge the gap between content, design and development, and get all three teams/skills working together with content in mind. Authors can structure the content so it maps to the CMS seamlessly. This means it won't 'break' the design or website and there won't be time wasted having to restructure and reorder the content.GatherContent is a great tool to facilitate this process as authors can create content Templates that will map directly to the CMS (and you could even use our API or connectors to import the content direct to your CMS, saving even more time).

Everyone's a winner

Not only will these methods make your authors job easier, it will create a smoother production environment. With more content delivered on time, in the correct format and style, you'll save time that would have been spend going back and forth for edits and approval. Informing your authors as much as possible upfront means they can get on with writing better content that will benefit both the business and the users.

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About the author

Robert Mills

Rob is Head of Content at GatherContent. He is a journalism graduate and has previously worked as Studio Manager and Head of Content for a design agency and as an Audience Research Executive for the BBC. He’s a published author and regular contributor to industry publications including Net Magazine, Smashing Magazine, 24 Ways,WebTuts+, UX Matters , UX Booth and Content Marketing Institute. On occasion Rob speaks about content strategy and ContentOps at leading industry events.

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