How to Avoid the Template of Doom


Indiana Jones

One of our favorite activities as content strategists is to build page templates (no really, we’re that nerdy).

Content templates help both designers and content creators determine the limitations of the design when it comes to building content within a format. Hallmarks of content templates include: character counts, guidance on meta data and direction on how to write. But sometimes they fail.

How can you avoid the template of doom? (This term was coined by a very special client.)

Why Content Templates Fail

Sometimes, templates are too rigid. It’s that simple. So much direction is given to the content creators, that they feel stymied by following the template exactly.

As Jessica Levco, our Director of Marketing, likes to say, “Every writer is a snowflake.” Writers need room to breathe, move and create. So when creating templates, it’s essential to include word counts and meta data. But giving direction on what exactly to write and how to write it? Nope. That’s going to mess up your content creators.

Instead, we like to pair content templates with examples of real pages that already exist and performed well. On the templates, we include choices. Sample conversation: “You can approach this paragraph by providing this information or a new fact. See this example for ideas.” But shaking your proverbial finger at the content creator — you must include this information or else — will lead to boring, listless content. The exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Content templates are an indispensable part of content strategy. It leads to strong, organized web pages. Make sure your content creators have the freedom to breathe life into your content by giving them guidelines that let them color in the lines — not be trapped by them.