Popular Posts of 2015

Reading on a tablet

It’s always interesting to look back at a year on the blog to see what you find interesting. The easiest way to do this is to look at the most popular posts from the year. I’m splitting things out into two lists, one showing the most viewed posts overall and one showing the most viewed posts written in 2015. Let’s see how they compare.

Most popular posts in 2015

Three out of the top five most viewed posts on this blog in the past year are more than two years old. This tells me a few things. Firstly, I’m writing about topics that have staying power. Secondly, that I still have an audience of librarians (which I never doubted). Although the focus of the blog has shifted, along with my work, I’m still connected with my former colleagues and wider network. And it looks like you’re still interested in what I had to say previously on my work in libraries.

Most popular posts written in 2015

I’m encouraged to see here the range of topics covered in these top five posts. There’s a nod to my daily work as a web editor, with posts on training and usability testing. I’m pleased to see my advice to first time bloggers up there too. And there’s also an indication that you’re looking for ways to work smarter and keep on top of things through my productivity tips.

Writing plans

Looking back at what has been popular over the past year is a great way to make an editorial plan for the blog for the year ahead. From these lists I’ve got a good idea of the things you’re interested in and that will direct (in part) what I write about in the future.

If you’ve got other ideas for what you’d like to see my write about, why not get in touch in the comments.

Staying afloat in a sea of information

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sea of information we have access to. There are moments when I’m sure we’ve all felt the waves crashing down on top of us. This post will introduce you to the process I use to help me stay afloat and manage the flow of information.

Discover

My main source of information is Twitter. I also subscribe to lots of blogs and newsletters via RSS and email.

Every day I see so many interesting things I want to read but cannot follow up on in the moment. So I have to have a process to collect these to read later.

Collect

When I find something interesting that I want to read (or watch) later, bookmark or act on I do one of two things.

If it’s something work related I email it to a Trello board. Everything I send here gets added as a card to a list called Articles. The card title is the name of the article and the description contains the link. For more information about how boards, lists and cards work, check out the Trello getting started guide.

My reading radar board in Trello

My reading radar board in Trello

Every few days I triage the Articles list and move unread articles to an appropriate category: content strategy, writing, social media, analytics.

For non-work related reading, I send articles to Pocket. I also group these by themes using tags: creativity, LGBT, sport etc.

Act

Once I’ve read or watched an item (that’s the process part) it’s time to act.

Some things just get deleted. Some get shared, via Twitter or Facebook. You can share items to these social networks directly from Pocket. It also links to Buffer if you want to schedule social media posts for later.

Others items get bookmarked for future reference. These tend to be resources or tools that I may want to use again, guides or examples of how something has been done. For this I use Bundlr. It’s easy to clip links and images straight from a browser using a bookmark or add-on. You can also add things by copying and pasting a link – I use this method when I’m on a tablet or phone.

You can group similar items into Bundles. I’ve got bundles for different topics, eg blogging, and different types of content, eg style guides. In the past I’ve also used Bundlr to collate tweets, slides and other resources from events I’ve attended.

If something really resonates with me then I will blog about it. I’ve just started using an editorial calendar to work blog post ideas generated in this way with other posts I’ve got scheduled. This is set up in Trello so it’s easy to move items from my reading board straight into the editorial calendar.

You can find out more about Trello in my previous post on using Trello for collaborative task management.Learning workflow: discover, collect, process, act

Habit forming

In part I’ve written this post to kick-start something. I’m good at stages one and two in this process, but I need to get better at stages three and four. I need to form a habit.

It’s getting to the time of year when we’re thinking of New Year’s resolutions. One of mine is going to be about making space for the things that are important to me. This includes reading widely and acting on the things I’m learning.

From the new year I’ll set aside a chunk of time every week to triage my reading lists, process the information and decide what to do with what I’ve learned. I’m hoping that this will in turn help with another of my resolutions – to write more. Like all good content strategists, I’ll be using my editorial calendar to map out how all this new content fits together. Perhaps I’ll write more on this later.

Share your tips

So, that’s how I manage to stay afloat in the sea of information. I’m interested to hear how you keep up to date and acting on what you’re learning. Go ahead and share your tips in the comments.

Getting to the top of the content governance mountain

Establishing and maintaining content governance can feel like an uphill struggle. Especially in large organisations with a devolved publishing model.

I recently attended a content governance webinar where Liam King shared five truths about web content:

  1. Your content is degrading from the moment it is published
  2. We don’t truly value our content
  3. We design sites that will never be sustainable
  4. Content governance just ain’t exciting
  5. Love for content dangerously fluctuates

If you weren’t nodding in agreement as you read these, please get in touch and share your secret to success…

Before you can tackle the problem you need to find the cause. Liam King recommends using the five whys problem solving method.

Once you know the root of the problem it’s time to start tackling it. Here’s how we’re trying to climb the content governance mountain at Newcastle.

Content governance in higher education

We’re currently working on a programme to bring all the University’s external websites into the 21st century. It’s called Go Mobile.  It is an opportunity not only to improve the site design and systems we use to publish websites, but also to improve the content and set up governance processes for that content.

Ownership and accountability

Before any site gets to begin the Go Mobile process we’re making sure there’s a named editor for us to work with. They will have ownership of the site’s content and be accountable for its quality.

There’s a lot of work to do with our editors to make sure they have the skills to create and maintain quality content. We’ve developed a new approach to training web editors to help them succeed.

Training our editors

A significant amount of our training focuses on planning web content. We walk through the content lifecycle and introduce resources to help at each stage. These include templates for editorial calendars, and tools like Hemingway (to improve readability) and Siteimprove (to check for misspellings and broken links).

Throughout our training we reinforce the standards set out in our style guides and review examples of good and bad content.

Standards and style guides

We’ve always had a content style guide that outlines standards and best practice. But I can probably count on my fingers the number of people who regularly consult it when creating or editing content.

Through Go Mobile we’re trying to make it as easy as possible for our editors to put our content standards into practice. We’re embedding standards where possible in the content management system. We’ve also created a demo site that puts the standards into context of the new content types available to editors.

Content quality reviews

For every site that gets the Go Mobile treatment we’re taking a snapshot of the content quality before any work gets done. This includes information from Google Analytics, Siteimprove and readability scores for every page. As part of the go live process we repeat the snapshot to check for improvements.

The quality assurance process doesn’t end there. There’s a plan to review every site after six months to make sure quality is being maintained. We’re not at that stage yet, with the first sites only going live in August. If you want an idea of how these reviews might work, read up on the Government Digital Service’s ‘spot checks’.

Summary

Content governance processes and policies are redundant if you don’t have people with the right skills to implement them. Part of our challenge is getting editors to think differently about their role and their content.

We’re still in the early days of setting this up but so far all signs are looking good. Check back with me in 6-9 months to see how the first batch of Go Mobile sites have done in their content quality reviews!

How do you manage content governance in your organisation? Share your experiences in the comments.