Consistency Across Content Creators

When you’re dealing with a large-scale web redesign, you’re talking about a lot of content. And when you’re talking about a lot of content, you’re going to need more than one writer to create it all.

Unfortunately, it’s never just as simple as throwing a caravan of writers at a project. In fact, the more writers you have, the more confusion you usually end up with, especially at the beginning of a content development project.

Unique personalities are great in the real world – but having unique writing personalities on the same web site is problematic. Even when working from a style guide, the best writers will still bring their own distinct flavor to their writing.

Here are some ideas to help make the writing clear, consistent and even across multiple content creators:

  • Start with a style guide. Even if you have to create one from scratch, don’t let writers start writing anything until you have one. It doesn’t have to be a book—even a simple outline that’s a few pages long will help—anything to start creating consistent terminology.
  • Share sample pages before writers start writing. Create a few pages that you love–choose one for each template, or topic area, for example. These sample pages should emulate the tone and quality you want. Make these sample pages the holy grail of your content examples, and make it clear that these are what you’re looking for.
  • Give your writers time to absorb and talk through background materials. It’s not enough to hand over the guide, examples and process documentation. Make sure writers have time allocated in their workload to integrate these background materials into their work—it’s a valuable exercise and will save you time down the road. After the writers have had time to review on their own, set up time to review it together as a group.
  • In the early weeks, have a calibration session. Review the initial work of all writers, and come to a consensus on the final approach. In this calibration workshop, share your edits with them. This can help everyone see where the sticking points are, and what they need to do more (and less) of.
  • Have completed, final edited work available to the writing team. Give team members a chance to review both their edited work, as well as other’s edited work. This can help them continue to integrate the right tone and approach in their work. (If there’s a way for internal editing to happen among writers, that can be a great way to level set too.)
  • Review content in sections, as much as you can. Instead of editing content as piecemeal pages, try to review sections holistically. Not only will this help with creating a consistent approach and tone, but it also helps you take advantage of potential cross-linking opportunities.

Stay focused on your approach—and both your content and your writers stay on track.