5 checks to keep your content on track — and your clients happy

Earlier on, I talked about how to embrace client or colleague feedback for what it is: extremely useful input for improving the quality of your content.

In this article, I share a handy 5-point checklist that I use for exploring feedback that I receive. If possible, I schedule a meeting with the feedback-giver, and make sure I have plenty of time to really understand both the person on the other side, and the topic and hand.

1. Did I get the facts right?

This may sound obvious, right? But if, like me, you work in complex domains like banking, transportation or finance, the concepts that I write about can get complicated. I commonly spend up to half of my time on domain research: talking to domain experts, trying out systems, reading procedures and work instructions, modelling my client’s world.

So when you get feedback, always check whether you understood the procedure or system correctly and whether you missed any steps or alternatives.

2. Did I get my audience right?

And no, I’m not necessarily talking about whether you know what your user persona’s favorite cereal brand is 🙂 One of the major pitfalls for any writer is that you create your content from your own perspective and level of understanding, rather than that of your audience. Especially when you work on topics that you’re not an expert on.

So do make sure that you know your audience in terms of experience level, required jargon and abbreviations, task execution and their mental model. Because that’s the level that your content needs to connect with. Ideally, work with people from your audience at every phase of your content design process to make sure that you’re on the right track.

3. Did I get my stakeholders right?

I can’t stress this one enough: always make sure who your stakeholders are and what expectations they have. Why are your writing in the first place? Is your content meant to factually inform? Is it meant to convince and persuade? What is the most important message that your text needs to convey? Are there conflicting interests that may need to be managed? Are there legal or security considerations that you might have missed?

4. Did I get the required quality level right?

Of course, you want to deliver 120% quality. But what if crafting and polishing every word to perfection means that you miss a deadline? Or make it impossible for your client to do that extra check with their own organisation?

Quality can mean many things for a writer:

  • Accuracy: do I need to get all the facts 100% right? Who needs to be OK with this text?
  • Completeness: how much ground does my text need to cover?
  • Consistency: do I write for a larger, close-knit content set, like a chatbot or a component-based content system?
  • Timeliness: do I need to hand in this text on a fixed deadline?
  • Maintainability: does my text need to be updated a lot?

Now, there will always be trade-offs between these aspects. But this doesn’t need to be a problem. As long as you check with your stakeholders what the most important quality aspects are for them. Be transparent in the choices that you can make, and what that means.

So you want this flow designed by next week? Sure, but that means that I need to either limit the scope to 1 topic, or skip that expert review. Are you OK with that?
Not? Well, in that case let’s see how we can free up your expert a bit earlier, so we can work together from the start, rather than having her review the finished product. Do you think that could work?

5. Is the feedback right?

This is something that’s easy to overlook. But sometimes, feedback may not be justified. Someone might have a bad day, or may have been put in this role. Or it’s from someone who might not necessarily be qualified.

For example, as a conversation designer, I take certain design decisions because I know how conversations work. It’s my job, and my expertise. When a project manager has feedback on how he would do things differently on flow design, I of course listen very carefully. And when he has a valid point, I thank him for thinking along adjust my flow.

But when he suggests something that might be counterproductive to the quality of the flow, it is my role, and even my responsibility, to explain this to that project manager. And negotiate my way through the decision making process.

Plan for communication

All these steps have one thing in common: they’re all about establishing a continuous feedback loop. So that you can change direction early and often. For that, I find it’s crucial to structurally plan for communication. Project briefs, regular check-ins, review cycles…these will all help you to integrate quality at every step in your content project.

Get in touch

Did you like what you read? I’m always happy to have a coffee and talk a bit more about content quality, scrum for content teams and how to optimise content processes for large enterprises. You can book a slot here: https://calendly.com/convocat/intro.