Creating Quality Content - Part 3: Editing, Publishing & Beyond
Quality Content Doesn’t Just Happen - Here’s How We Do It
This post is the third in a series about how to write quality content. In Part 1: Content Research and Planning, we shared strategies for what you can do before you start writing. In Part 2: Crafting the Text, we went over tips for writing engaging content that offers value. This third and final post will focus on what you can do after the first draft is complete.
Getting your article ready for publishing—and knowing what to do once it’s live—is part of what sets great writers apart from the rest.
We’ll go over the strategies we use to go from first draft to published content, and what we do after our content is published.
Strategy #1: Edit ruthlessly
Once you have a solid first draft, it’s time to start editing your work. I like to break down my content editing into three parts—playing around with my text, working with a peer editor and, finally, proofreading.
1. Play around with your text
In this stage, I switch gears and go from writing to copy editing. I look at the structure and how the text flows, check for redundancies and more. (Not sure what copy editing is? Here’s a quick summary of the difference between copy editing and proofreading.)
Here’s the process I go through:
Read everything out loud to see how it sounds. Wait until everyone’s out to lunch if you have to, but don’t skip this step. I’ve caught some awkward-sounding phrases just by reading them out loud.
Do a quick skim and see if anything sounds off to you. If it does, try: - Using a different word - Omitting a word - Switching the sentence order - Moving sentences/paragraphs to see if the content flows better
Find and eliminate fluff. Go over your work and see if there’s anything that’s redundant or unnecessary. If it doesn’t add value, remove it. In the following “Before,” the text was friendly and inviting, but also redundant. The “After” text is still friendly, but we cut the fluff.
Check that your voice is consistent. This establishes credibility with users. Learn more about how we created a brand voice.
2. Find a peer editor
Sometimes, we’re too deep into a project to edit our own work. That’s when it’s time to bring in reinforcements. We do peer content editing at Wix and it’s improved my text many, many times. Peer editors can point out confusing text, offer suggestions for a tricky paragraph and find those sneaky typos. Fun Fact: Your brain is actually designed to skip over typos. And it’s even worse with your own work, because you’re so familiar with it.
Once you’ve done a round or two of revisions and (hopefully) found someone else to give you feedback, start proofreading. Here’s where you’ll find any typos that somehow managed to make it through the first two stages, and make sure you avoid plagiarism (even accidentally). Use spell check and any other proofreading tool you like, but remember that nothing (yet) can replace a human being when it comes to proofreading. So go over it yourself, too. Read our tips for proofreading your own work.
Strategy #2: Fact check and fix inconsistencies
Inaccuracies and mistakes can really hurt your credibility. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure they don’t happen:
Go back to your experts. Even if you already discussed what you’re going to write, show the final content to your experts before you publish.
Update any relevant articles. If you’ve written other related articles, update any links or content that needs changing as a result of what you just wrote.
Sync with others in your company. If your content might affect text written by others, let them know. At Wix, UX writers have regular meetings with knowledge base writers. This keeps us in sync. For example, if I update a CTA from “Replace” to “Change Image,” I make sure the KB writer knows about it and can edit the relevant articles in our Help Center. It may seem like an insignificant change, but even small inconsistencies like this can leave users confused and annoyed.
Strategy #3: Have a “pre-publish” checklist ready
When there’s a tight deadline and lots of pressure, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks. Next time you publish something, take a few minutes to write down each step in the process.
Refer to your checklist each time you publish. That way, you don’t have to compromise on quality even when you have an urgent project with a quick turnaround.
Examples for your checklist:
Double-check the details - Make sure you updated anything that changed during the writing process, like a product name, system requirements, etc. - Pay attention to numbers. For example, if you wrote a list of “10 tips for a relaxing vacation,” make sure you ended up with 10 tips. If you wrote “see step 5 for details,” go ahead and check that it’s still step 5. (You may want to avoid giving specific numbers for this reason, but if you do—go back and check it.) - Verify that all names of people, brands and companies are spelled properly (e.g., LinkedIn, not Linkedin).
Check all links
Click on every link to make sure it goes to the right place.
Make sure you’re consistent
For example, if you capitalize subtitles using title case, do it every time. But don’t be an absolute stickler. In a specific case, it may work better to break out of your “consistency rules.” For example, we write most labels in the settings panel in sentence case. However, sometimes it just looks best to break this rule. Here we went with “Opacity & Color” because “Opacity & color” looked off.
Look for anything that others may need to know about. For example, if you’re updating a URL that others may have linked to, let them know. If you’re changing text in your product or a product name, make sure you’re aligned with the relevant people in your company, such as marketing writers.
Write page metadata and image alt text. This helps search engines understand what your page is about. As the writer, you know the content better than anyone. That’s why you’re in the best position to write great page titles, descriptions and image alt text. Plus, these SEO details will help give your text the best shot at showing up in search results. - Add alt text to any images and videos. This is important for both search engines and accessibility. Alt text helps Google index your webpage and is read aloud to anyone consuming your content via a screen reader.
- Add a title and meta description tag for each page. They aren’t shown on the web page itself, but readers can see the title and description in search results. The title also appears on a user’s browser tab:
After you publish, do a quick skim, look for any lingering typos and mistakes. Click on every button, CTA and link.
Strategy #4: See how well your content did
Once your content is live, use any available data to see what works and what doesn’t. Refer back to your KPIs and goals from Part 1: Content Research and Planning. Did your content accomplish these goals? If not, try to think through what went wrong and how you can improve in the future. Over time, this will really help boost your content quality.
And that’s a wrap! In the last 3 articles, we shared 13 content strategies we use to write great content. Let us know if you have any other tips. Also, what’s on your pre-publish checklist? Share it in the comments below.
Read the other two posts in the series:
Part 1: Content Research & Planning
Part 2: Crafting the Text
By Lana Raykin, UX Writer at Wix