It goes without saying that in this bottomless buffet of content that we live in, you need to create pieces with real substance and value to your audience.
Publishing articles and posting on social media just for the sake of it can work for organic reach and brand awareness, sure, but if there’s nothing to grasp, your audience will get tired of it very soon. The more content pushed to us, the less tolerance we have for fluff. Text that offers no valuable takeaways or insight is quickly discarded.
In this article, I'll share ideas and suggestions on how to monitor quality throughout content creation and some tools you can use for that.
Provide value to your audience
When we speak about quality, the first thing to consider is the actual content: what’s the message you want to convey?
To stand out and keep your audience craving more, every paragraph needs to be of top-notch quality. Your content must be worth your readers’ time and provide them with something useful — takeaways that they can apply to their own life or work.
Once you’re satisfied with the content you’ve created, it’s time to focus on objective quality checks. These include eliminating grammar and spelling mistakes, broken links, and other errors. The goal is that everything you publish looks exactly how you intended it and is accessible and appealing to the audience you want to impact.
Creating quality content at scale
If you work in a company where multiple people and teams create content, standard quality guidelines must be in place. Using a fixed publication checklist by content type enables and empowers more individuals in the team to schedule and publish content. What are the exact steps that the publisher needs to take? It’s a good idea to add screenshots or even small tutorial clips to the mix.
Using a template or cloning an existing frame for your content makes the publishing process easy. Make sure to perfect the templates before sharing them. Consider spacing, responsiveness, element features (such as text styling and image dimensions), and settings. It’s essential to communicate what should — and shouldn’t — be changed in the template.
Focus on quality every step of the way
Keeping quality in check throughout the production process is important, and it saves you a lot of time. Incorporate consistent quality checking in the different stages of the content creation workflow:
- Include a messaging check by the brand governors of your team, e.g., Brand & Comms, in one of the first steps of the workflow.
- Make sure all the writers know your branding and messaging by heart and use a proofreading tool. Grammarly is great!
- Have your brand guidelines easily accessible to the content creators. Take a look at our brand guide.
- Use templates provided/approved by your creative team.
- Build a comprehensive pre-publishing quality checklist and set it as the last step in the workflow.
Set up a pre-publishing quality checklist
A pre-publishing checklist is one tool that makes all the difference in quality control.
The best way to build (and optimize) a quality checklist is to sit down with the stakeholders that create content or otherwise have knowledge of the platform(s) used for content creation.
When I was building the quality check for Foleon Docs, I picked the brains of our in-house designers and the Product and Customer Success teams. For other content types, such as blogs posts and social media, I work with different specialists in the Marketing team.
After working hard to create your content piece, it's more than natural that you want to share it quickly with the world. I think we can all agree that quality assurance is something that none of us want to spend hours on.
Instead of creating dull lists, try a “step-by-step” approach. I used Typeform and created a checklist with short questions after one another. Once something is checked, the user can click on the following question. A step-by-step checklist is interactive and guides the user through the process.
Tools like Typeform are great because they allow you to create something pretty, logical, and easily shareable. One of the great features is the ability to record the answers and save them centrally or even send them to a Google Sheet.
This way, you can quickly check that the quality checks are always done and have the answers collectively in one place. You can even automate the system to inform you via email when new submissions come in.
Structure your checklist right
Make sure to arrange the questions/checks logically. Start with proofreading, then move to visuals. Do settings checks last. The user mustn’t need to do unnecessary back and forth.
I recommend structuring the questions and answers in a way that gives you insights for improving the creation processes. Instead of only having yes or no answers, include something like “I fixed it.” If specific things constantly need to be fixed during the quality assurance, you can focus on educating the content creators and improving the process around those matters.
Take responsiveness as an example — if you need to adjust it every time you do quality assurance, it’s an idea to throw a workshop where you teach the content creators the importance of responsiveness across devices and how to keep it consistent.
Quality assurance isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about “fun,” but trust me, there’s a lot you can do to make the quality check a pleasant experience for the user. Use an amusing tone of voice, add gifs and images to instruct and entertain. Why not throw some confetti at those who complete the quality check?
Well planned is half done
Good quality control begins even before the content creation starts. Educating teams and stakeholders that are part of the production process on brand guidelines saves you a lot of time later on. You can add reminders and notes to the steps of the workflow ensuring that quality guidelines are accessible throughout the process.
One of the last steps in the content creation workflow should be pre-publishing quality assurance. Whatever tool you decide to use, make sure that the quality checklist is logical, concise, and pleasant to use. What needs to be checked depends on the content type and the platform you’re using but as a rule of thumb, make sure to check the following:
- Copy and proofreading
Check that the text is on brand and that there are no grammar or spelling mistakes. You can use a typing assistant tool like Grammarly to help you.
Ensure that the visuals, graphics, and overall design follow your brand’s visual guidelines. If you have a brand guide, link it to this step of the quality checklist.
Check responsiveness, links, and navigation. Browse through the publication and make sure everything looks and works as intended. You can use your browser’s inspect feature to check tablet and mobile responsiveness.
Do you want your content to be visible on search engines? Is the metadata correct? Does your content need to be gated or protected? Include all settings checks in a logical order for the user to follow.