Editorial is a valuable group to have in your web site. Editors for web content shield the web production group and align groups outside the web team to the correct standards and copy guidelines for your website. Editorial should be almost like project managers, yet more, as they need to have the power to own content on the site and create and guide how content shows on your website.
Great editorial teams, like I’ve worked with, stop at nothing to set a high bar for content and messaging. They manage and store copy templates for each differently designed page on your site that contain character counts and editorial standards for the content. The copy templates are normally word documents that content owners fill out with copy for a new web page. These copy templates would be wonderful if you can make them web forms, and automate the review process of the copy from content owner to editorial to dynamic population of web template, then review by web team and design for input of graphics and various media focused assets like videos.
Having a library of copy templates requires a staff that can constantly keep them up-to-date, as in the world of the web, designs change and mutate every day. Web Editors can meet with content owners to educate them on page designs and best use of various designs for various functions.
I found in working with Editorial they blocked the web production team from many un-necessary meetings and rework. They would spot issues with content and send it back or rework it before it got to my group. Editors provided valuable insight into how a page flows and reads. The last thing a web production manager wants of their group is to have valuable coders wasting time on calls where design and content is being flushed out. That needs to be all wrapped up before your web team get projects.
Also, if you want visitors to your site to be engaged the copy has to be on par, digestible, innovative and interesting. Content can no longer be marketing fluff and people will not read it. It has to be personal and be about an issue or problem they looking to solve. No more rambling on and on about the “best-in-breed” language.
No more “yada yada yada…”
Copy templates take the design out of the view, the content is clear in this format and can be viewed on its own. This helps create good content. Web Design is nothing without the support of valuable content. Your content should be able to stand alone w/o design. Design helps get the message the content is built around enforced, it supports content not overpowers it.
Think of it this way…if you went to a beautiful site, yet had no clue as to what they sold or what they did, would you go back? You might want to amaze in the beauty of it, but if you were looking to buy something other than possibly art work, you would leave. Or worse yet you go to a site that has beautiful design yet horrible writing, that alone deters people from trusting the company or valuing that brand.
Creating a web copy template is basic. You first strip all the design out of your page, then you build it with character lengths and the purpose of each section of text you see in page. Usually pages are formatted with these types of sections, to name a few:
- Tag Line
- Customer quote
Also your copy templates should allow for SEO text such as Browser Title, Search Abstract and Keywords, which content owners can enter but the SEO group reviews and modifies.
When editorial is building the copy standards for each section, if you translate content for your website, make sure the German translations are used to test the character lengths as that seems to be the longest translation languages. Meaning if you have a tag line that can only go 256 characters, your English version of the tag may need to only go half that to account for translated languages length.
Your editorial web copy doc should be named in a file name you can find, for organization, something good like per design type: section used: version, an example would be “productpage-hub-style-ver1.3”
Once you have a copy template that works in the design – always test it first, with a dry run with web production team. Have them build the content in the design and see what works, and what doesn’t. Maybe web production needs some direction as to which areas in the copy template match to which areas in the web template. This is where the web production manager will work with editorial to make those notes so that the copy template is easy for the web team to decipher, to actually input and enter into the page design.
In content on your site – people want specifics, they want facts, easy to access technical documentation, and they want visual demos. Treat your site as if you are talking to someone “one–on–one”, not broadcasting from a podium from someplace in the clouds.
Get down, and be real with people, take suggestions and understand their reality if you want to engage and create a product people /companies will buy.