Two blog posts caught my eye this week in regards to the relationship between the Web developer and content producer. In case you didn’t know, a large number of web developers are very good with their technical skills but lacking in the ability to produce written content. That’s why individuals like me have jobs. We are hired by developers to produce content in any number of different forms which then gets used by the developers to build their sites.
In previous posts of my own I’ve dealt with skills needed by writers in order to produce quality content that keeps customers happy. But the two blogs I referenced earlier have led me to use today’s post to address the developer side of the equation. Unfortunately, too many developers expect web writers to work miracles by spinning a few words here and there. When things don’t work out, articles get sent back for rewrites or developers simply move on to a new company and new writers. Much of this can be avoided if developers learn a few new skills.
Writers Need Focus
The first blog comes by way of the University of Southern California’s ATVN, an online media outlet teaching students pursuing careers in journalism. This post was written by a news producer looking for a story from one of her content writers. In her post she relayed the fact that she needed to put together some content for story she was preparing on KONY video director Jason Russell. And because of all the bad press the KONY video had been receiving as of late, she knew if she didn’t give her writer specific focus that’s where the story would end up. Instead, the producer wanted a very different angle.
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Those of us who write web content for developers often find ourselves in similar situations. I can tell you from experience that nothing is more frustrating in our industry than receiving assignments from developers that lack focus. Too often we must infer simply through a list of keywords what direction a web developer wants to pursue. Sometimes an experienced web writer will get right; sometimes even the best writers get it wrong. Developers could make our lives a whole lot easier by providing a bit more focus and direction along with keywords and topics.
Don’t Rely Solely on Content
The second blog comes from South Africa’s Smart Computing. In a recent entry a Smart Computing staff writer explained some of the difficulties web developers in South Africa have grabbing the attention of web surfers and keeping it long enough for them to actually find out what’s on a website. The author of the story claims that you have only about 10 seconds to do so before the average reader moves on to a different site. He goes on to suggest that you need a combination of good content and eye-catching components to do the trick.
The author then goes on to say that once you have a web reader’s attention, what you do with it is just as important. They suggest knowing your audience and deciding beforehand what you want to accomplish. For example, if you’re trying to market as specific product or service, do so openly and without reservation. In other words, don’t disguise marketing as thought-provoking content if provoking thought is not your objective. Readers will see through that and very quickly and move on to the next site.
I’m not sure about the assertions made by Smart Computing. Then again, I’m not a web developer. What I can tell you is that I am a better writer when I know exactly what my customers are looking for. If you’re a web developer who wants to get the maximum benefit from the content produced by your writers, take a few minutes to decide what it is you’re looking for ahead of time and include that in your instructions. The better focused you are, the better focused we are. A when we’re both focused together we achieve much better results.