As a profession, we have spent the last few years getting management to focus on the value of content (relatively successfully, judging from the proliferation of content marketing apps, agencies, and job requisitions). A funny thing happened on the way to grabbing management’s attention. They’re now discovering that creating good content is hard… really hard. That could bode well in terms of the long-term income prospects for our profession, but it creates a pocket of chaos in an already chaotic field, as more organizations try to figure out just exactly what makes good content. The myriad ways to judge good, mediocre, and awful, serve as the inspiration for our latest TechWhirl poll.
In the previous century, technical writers didn’t have to worry about content quality so much as meeting the deadline for the product launch. Some of us have real experience with managers who said things like “it doesn’t have to be good, it just has to have weight”–and we’re talking pounds or kilos, not importance or credibility. Such a goal, and the rather simple metrics that go along with it, no longer suffice. Because bad content, technical, marketing, support, or otherwise, has a way of damaging reputation, and putting the organization at risk.
The stages at which you can evaluate content quality also pose some deeper questions on how to manage the workflow of content creation and production, particularly when frequency and volume required matter so much to the customer experience. In fact we start that evaluation before the content developer even onboards, using portfolio reviews and writing/editing testing to make some judgement about a candidate’s potential to produce well-crafted content. Methodologies and tools play a role in shaping our workflows and developing our teams. And finally, perhaps most importantly, actual business results determine how (and if) we move forward.
We want to create a good conversation about evaluating content quality, based on your experiences both in doing the evaluation and being evaluated. What kind of factors work best to evaluate production versus results versus the staff doing the creation? And how do those factors drive the inner workings of your team (even if you’re a team of one)? Have you developed useful metrics, and if so would you be willing to share some of them? History tells us that as a profession, we love a good debate about such issues, so vote in the poll, and share your stance.