As a writer it's your job to be ruthless with your own writing and structure, but more important (and much more difficult), is being ruthless with others. Yes, I'm talking about internal politics here!
As the guardian for your website, you need to maintain the quality of your content for the end user. Depending on the size of your organisation keeping your content in hand may often involve working with multiple teams and managing expectations.
Knowing your user
Depending on the size of your organisation keeping your content in hand may often involve working with multiple teams and that dreaded phrase... managing expectations.
A useful trick here is to always refer to our first principle - start with the user. Especially when egos get in the way.
It's understandable that people feel a lot of pride and ownership in their content and they may insist (dare I say demand?) that it needs to go on your site. This is when you connect back to the user; is it important to them? What's the angle? What parts do they need to know?
The value of peer review
A great idea (if you don't already) is to peer review each other's work. This removes a lot of the ego from the room and means content can be edited without one person feeling like the content police.
When in doubt I follow this method: aim to create at least half the content as a starter goal, and ensure it's broken up into logical and structured headings for easy scanning. It's always good to explain to your contributors why you've gutted their baby (ahem content) – so try using these reasons that I've already prepared for you.
Why have you....
- Cut my content in half? The average session time for this content was much shorter than what is needed to consume it all. We’ve kept the essence of the piece but taken out a lot of the fluff.
- Broken up the content with headings? The content now has headings and structure as our web visitors don't read everything we have on our website, they tend to scan for information.
- Reordered the content? The order has shifted because our users only scroll through about 50-60% of an article page. We need the most important things nearer the top in prime real estate.
- Changed so many words? Longer words were changed to plain english. It's now more easily searchable, plus studies show that plain english makes the writer appear smarter and more trustworthy.
Be brave, it's time to be a ruthless content editor and I wish you well. A helpful ally for your ruthlessness will be the free hemingwayapp that I've referred to in the previous blog posts. When in doubt, blame it on Hemingway.