A crucial part of any good content strategy is to iterate and improve, we need constant feedback. As we all know, things don't stay still when it comes to the world of digital and neither should your web content.
For this step we like to refer to two of our own SilverStripe values:
Collaboration over control.
Continuous improvement over perfection.
While these values sound ideal in theory, they are in fact harder to put in action; if you're like most of us, being in complete control of your content sounds a lot better!
How can you encourage users (both internal and external) to give feedback and collaborate to improve your content? For your internal users we strongly recommend that you adopt 'peer reviewing' as a practice in your content team.
When developers write code at SilverStripe they share and peer review. And this practice is just as useful for those of us writing in the english language! Peer reviewing all web content means that the 'approval' doesn't bottleneck with one person (AKA the boss). Peer reviewing = better content. From our experience working in Agile content and marketing teams, you'll also feel less precious about your content and more open to suggestions. This can only be a good thing.
Here's a handy guerilla test that you can ask others to perform on your web content draft. (Credit for this test goes to the digital team at ACC who presented the method at a digital conference)
- Read the page title (hide everything else)
- Write down 3-4 questions that you'd expect to be answered on the page
- Read the rest of the page
- Did the page answer your questions?
- Jot down any other feedback you have.
Volia! A quick and easy test for others to give you feedback.
How about getting feedback from external users? For this step we’ll refer to our second SilverStripe value: Continuous improvement over perfection.
A tricky one for those of us with high standards for our web content! The Agile mindset goes like this: it's better to share a minimum viable product (in this case your content) and get early feedback to improve it. The alternative is polishing content for hours, even months only to find out that your users (or search engines) tanked it, it was miles too long and you only needed 300 words not 3,000.
To create content in an Agile way:
- Create a basic new page and start testing headings and copy so you can see what is going to resonate with an audience - before you fill in the rest.
- For a long form piece of content (document, pdf guide etc), create a short blog post first to test how the topic is received by your readers.
Think about ways that you can create content experiments that will help guide your writing. Remember when in doubt, start small and share early.
What about when you're creating a whole new website? One you've been toiling away on for months? Again, refer to the digital team at ACC and their approach, which you may like to adopt for yourself.
An all too common approach when building a new site is to do it in a hidden way. Once the site is ready for launch the switch is made. Bam, launch! Applause and balloons rain down from the web clouds! And the old site vanishes (at least to users).
The team at ACC took a more Agile approach when creating their new site. They built a beta site and started showing it to the public early.
This meant they were running two sites. The main site users came to first; beta pages were gradually integrated so they could get instant feedback. The pages on the beta site were labelled as such, so users could tell they'd encountered a new page. And there were tools for users to provide feedback on the site pages right then and there. When they were ready to make the big switch, they did so with confidence as they had already tested and improved the content. The team evolved their website of 20,000 pages to 200 pages – content heroes.
These tips will go a long way to adopting constant feedback and improvement into your content practice. If you're struggling with the idea of releasing early and often, just remember this sage advice:
Done is better than perfect.
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