Assessing Content: Thinking like the Old and the New

For an existing site, one of the first things I recommend is a content assessment. This process involves evaluating the content on the page for clarity and comprehension, but also looking for what is missing. To do this, I have to think like a new user, but I also have to bring in my experience as a writer and editor.

To think like a new user, I borrow the zen concept of beginner’s mind. Clear out the preconceptions; come at it fresh. Understand who the intended audience is, and place yourself in that mindset. It’s harder than it sounds, but the process reveals strengths and weaknesses in ways that can surprise you.

Once I find those strengths and weaknesses, I rely on my experience to improve upon them. We task content with  a lot of jobs at once. It must do some obvious things, like convey information and help people meet their goals. It should also act in more subtle ways, like create confidence in its quality. It can create confidence through consistency, accuracy, and word choice.

Sometimes even the kind of content instills confidence. A well placed bio or client reference bolsters the belief that you know what you’re doing. On the other hand, poor choices can in content placement can diminish trust. That’s where experience comes into play.

The old mind knows what works; the new mind helps us find opportunities to take advantage of expertise. Finding balance between fresh ideas and tried-and-true methods is the key to successful content strategy.

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