Document the process
Document everything you do. Even if it’s a small job.
Yes, documenting can be a hassle, particularly on a tight deadline. But it’s not all bureaucratic box-ticking. A plan or strategy streamlines the process. You will be able to tell, at a glance, what the document is for, where it is in its lifecycle, and who is responsible for what. In the long run, you will save time.
In his book The Checklist Manifesto, surgeon Atwal Gawende points out that, without checklists, we would never enter a hospital or get on a plane. Checklists and processes save lives. Our processes are less ambitious, but they do make managing a content lifecycle vastly easier.
The content strategy
If you are embarking on a large job, like a faculty website, create a content strategy. A content strategy details the goals for your content, how you will realise those goals, who will do what, and how you will maintain the content.
The Office of Marketing and Communications designed a web content strategy template for Monash faculty websites. You can adapt the strategy for smaller jobs or print jobs within faculties or business divisions.
A publishing plan can be part of your content strategy or a stand alone document. Here’s an example:
Publication process for new web pages
|Publishing coordinator||Content owner||Writer/editor/proofreader|
|Create a publication plan and timeline. Nominate the content owner and author/editor for each chunk of information.||Define the purpose of the publication. Provide the writer with the content resources they need.||Write content.|
REVIEW AND EDIT
|Organise external reviews.||Organise peer reviews. Edit based on reviews.|
|Sign off final page.||Confirm content accuracy.||Proofread. Last edit and sign off.|
|Approve page for entry into the CMS. Check live page.||Approve live deployment of website.||Proof the webpage.|
If you’re writing for the web and content is not available, do not create blank pages with ‘under construction’ or ‘more information coming soon’ messages. These pages can frustrate users looking for information. Either the content exists or it doesn't.
Remember, it’s up to everyone on the team to ensure the publication process is documented all the way through.