Your organization definitely has a Web site. If you don’t first of all, what are you doing? Secondly, you might want to take a look at some unlimited web hosting providers that can set you and your organization on their way to having a great site. There are loads of different web hosting companies that you can use though. So you just have to find the one that works best for you. This might mean you use a provider like Hostiserver instead, however, there are many others that you could use. If your company has a website (which you should), is it well-written for the Web? Here are some questions to ask the next person you hire to craft keyword-rich, user-friendly content for online.
1. Are you a good writer? This is similar to the rule I tell my friends when they are dating; start with a good person. Good Web writers, good print writers, good technical writers are most always just good writers. Good writers the world over are all the same: they love to read, they love words, they love questions and they love the answers even more.
2. How do you write differently when creating a print piece as opposed to Web content? This question recently was asked of me at an interview and I loved it. To me, it really showed that the person understood that Web writing is a technical craft. Web writers have a strategy when constructing content that differs greatly from the straetegy used to write a print piece. By asking a Web writer to reveal that strategy, you will gain a deeper understanding of their skills and how they will approach your project.
3. Do you think about the usability of the page when writing? The way a page is constructed: the design elements, photograph placement, where the menu navigation sits, are the first thing your user sees when visiting a page on your Web site. Your writer should have an understanding of how the content will appear on the page, as well as how to construct the content to complement the design. For example, I used to write for one client who had very narrow columns as the main body of the page. I thought very strategically about creating headlines that would fit just so into that main space on the page so it would be incredibly easy for the user to scan the page. Thankfully, that client redesigned!
4. How do you assemble your keyword list? Most people think search engines are the name of the game when it comes to Web writing. Actually, your user reading your content is the name of the game. But you also need those users to find your site. That is why it is so critical for your Web writer to really understand how keywords are used and manipulated online. Good answers to this question would include: asking to see log files, analyzing competitor sites and using many of the excellent online tools for keyword research. However, at the end of the day, good Web writing answers users’ question on each and every page. Keywords are JUST a tool to help your users find and read your Web site.
5. Who do you ask when you have a question? As the saying goes, “You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their heroes”. Web writers are like everyone else; who they trust to answer their questions reveals how they approach Web writing. Good Web writers will talk about Jakob Nielsen, Ginny Reddish, Jared Spool and Steve Krug. Recently, I Twittered with Jared about a question I had for a client. I didn’t know if any research had been done in a particular area and I knew he would be an excellent resource.
Are there other questions you’ve asked a Web writer before hiring? I’d love to hear what they are.