Design & Technology March 08, 2016
5 Key Considerations of Content Editing
Creating, managing and publishing content across multiple sites and channels in various contexts can be a lot of hard work for global enterprises. If you’re changing to a new platform, or struggling with a backlog of issues, it can be difficult to know where to begin, or how to overhaul your content management to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Despite the growing importance of creating engaging user experiences, support for in-house staff to manage content is all too often an afterthought. Content management often falls under the remit of existing marketing teams, who are already tasked with managing multiple marketing functions.
As the demand for digital content continues to increase, organisations are seeking platforms and systems which can help them maximise the use of their assets. To help make content management efficient and effective, there are five key areas that need to be considered:
1. Planning and Objectives
As with all projects, planning is hugely important for content editing. Whether you are launching a new website, or instigating a project to improve your existing setup, you must consider content as part of the bigger picture, right from the beginning.
Get input from business users, such as your in-house marketing staff and/or experienced content editors, on what works well for them. Ask for their ideas on useful features, and how to make workflows and processes more efficient. Ensure that technical and project management staff are on-board and ready to provide support, where needed.
If you are dealing with multiple country websites, you also need to plan ahead to take account of the requirements of these local markets. Find out what their needs are with regard to translation, localisation, market specific campaigns, products and regulatory requirements.
During the planning stage, consider:
- A content audit to highlight the areas where change is needed and rationalise existing content.
- Workshops to get the views and ideas of a range of stakeholders.
- Creating a content schedule to help keep progress on track.
- Whether you need support from an experienced third-party team.
- What methodology you intend to implement – are firm processes in place? Do you want to move to agile or another approach?
Outline clear and agreed upon objectives and milestones that can be reviewed, adjusted and built upon at regular intervals.
It is also important to consider the overall objectives that you are hoping to achieve with the content and the project as a whole, and to have these inform your day-to-day decisions.
2. Clear Communication
Communication, as always, is key. Points of contact and objectives, plans and launches should be agreed and communicated ahead of time. This will enable technical staff and other relevant areas of the business to give the appropriate feedback, and be prepared for whatever contributions are necessary from them.
If there are many moving parts and people to keep in the loop, you may want to have a read-only version of your plan, accessible via your intranet. This helps to maintain transparency, and keep people on the same page.
As processes are improved and content reorganised, your editors will need to be aware of new processes and workflows. This can be done through documentation, such as an online wiki.
Consider who will need to be kept informed, who will be responsible for this, and who will cover those responsibilities in case of absence and holidays.
3. Platform and Tools
A common problem for content editors is not having the right tools for the job, or the tools they have not working properly, or lacking integration with other business systems.
You need to make sure that you have an effective platform, the technical capabilities to run it, and the relevant number of licenses for your editors. Try to avoid letting infrastructure or bandwidth issues effect your business.
There is always a balance to be struck in terms of effort vs. traffic, but remember that you are also investing in the future of the business by improving the platform. Even if traffic is not currently high, the aim of digital content is to increase traffic, engagement and, ultimately, sales. Therefore, you need to be ready for that increase in both traffic and content updates when it comes.
Some questions to ask yourself on platform and tools:
- Are your content management system and the associated tools and platforms capable of meeting your business objectives?
- What plugins, upgrades, add-ons or additional tools are necessary to make sure that your content editors can maximise the potential of your web content?
- Are you well prepared for the needs of local markets? How are you managing translation, localisation and transcreation – at market level, or via a centralised function?
- Where could automation be introduced to help editors?
- Does your current team have the right capabilities? Do you need to invest in training or additional content support?
4. Training and Support
Ensure that your staff have the required training and support to make full use of your systems, and to create, manage and publish your content in an effective way. If support is needed, think about out-sourcing to experienced editors to assist your in-house staff.
With a central content editing team like the one at Dept, training and support can be rolled into one with ad-hoc training sessions forming part of content support as a service.
5. Process & File Organisation
Content organisation needs to be thought of carefully. Often, content work can be hampered by confused processes, disorganised folders, unclear titles etc. In order to allow for smooth, fast updates, ensure that status and processes for content work are clear.
- Agree upon a file structure for content folders.
- Have a set style for naming files and components.
- Hold regular reviews to remove content that is no longer needed.
- Check for content that has been localised incorrectly.
Implementing these practices will allow for easy navigation of the CMS, and prevent things from becoming clogged up with irrelevant and unneeded content and assets.
6. Web Standards
Something that content editors must consider all the time is web standards. To get the best out of your system and websites, it is useful for content editors to have a checklist of basic standards to periodically check through. This can include SEO factors, image sizes, accessibility issues etc.
Tools such as Active Standards, which will analyse your site and highlight any errors, can be helpful for this. You may wish to also create your own style and brand guidelines to ensure consistency.
Here I have discussed some of the broad key areas that need to be considered for content editing to be effective. Keep these considerations in mind as you work to put content editing on a strong foundation and your editors and customers will benefit.
Taken together, these fundamentals can be used to underpin content projects, leading to ongoing improvements for your websites and your customers’ experience.
DEPT’s Content as a Service
Whether you are looking for a quick turnaround on a backlog of issues, a long-term reorganisation of legacy content, or a whole new website, Dept’s professional content editors, who are fully trained in the use of enterprise CMS, can support your team to achieve effective, organised content management.