Website Update: Content Curation Begins

When creating a website, momentum builds as individual tasks—and then entire categories of tasks—move from the To Do column to the Let’s Celebrate column of the project schedule. At some point, attention turns from the structure of what you’re building to the content you’ll eventually display on your website.

That’s where we on the ASJA Website Committee find ourselves these days. Yes, work continues on wireframes and building the association management system. But we’re also able to finally start delving into what we want to say about ASJA—and our expertise—to the world.

Content Curation Task Force

You may recall from Sherry Paprocki’s 70th anniversary fundraising campaign several years ago that one of its central goals was to create a dynamic new ASJA website to highlight our unparalleled expertise and educational offerings. The newly formed Content Curation Task Force is bringing this goal to fruition by reviewing years of published ASJA educational resources to find the gems that stand the test of time and deserve a wider audience.

Jackie Dishner is leading a crew consisting of members Sally Abrahms, Anne Cassidy, Theresa Sullivan-Barger, Marijke Vrooman Durning, and Suzanne Boles. Many thanks to all for putting on their editor and SEO hats on behalf of ASJA.

Thanks also to President Laura Laing, who has reprised her former role as Publications Chair to gather resources and help design an efficient, nuanced review process.

An Embarrassment of Riches

With a rich trove of articles and educational sessions in the ASJA archives, how do we begin making sense of it all? Ultimately, we expect to feature a variety of material types in our online Resources section, including:

  • Articles from ASJA Magazine
  • Market reports from ASJA Magazine
  • Blog posts from the ASJA Confidential blog
  • Podcasts
  • Conference session recordings
  • Webinars

Since there are technological issues to resolve with the A/V material, we’re starting with blog posts, magazine articles, and market reports. Laura has already taken a first pass through several years of ASJA Confidential posts to omit articles that have clearly exceeded their shelf life. Typically, these short-lived articles focus on past association news or events.

With blog posts that have evergreen potential, Jackie assigns batches of articles to each reviewer. Ultimately, the reviewer will determine whether each item should be published essentially as-is, published with revisions, or not published.

Categorize, Evaluate, and Update

But first, the reviewer categorizes each article. The categories we’re highlighting on our homepage and cross-referencing in the Resources section are:

  • Writing craft
  • Interview skills
  • Finding clients
  • Managing clients
  • Market reports
  • Pitches that worked
  • Proposals that worked
  • Contracts
  • Business of writing
  • Legislation

Each reviewer pastes the full article text into the handy-dandy template we created. She then assesses the article’s utility and how evergreen it is. If the article just needs simple updating like deleting an event block, correcting a typo, or making minor tweaks, the reviewer can make those edits right on the spot.

If the article needs more extensive updating, the reviewer will put it aside for us to consider on a case-by-case basis.

Add SEO

As part of our goal to use the new website as a tool to increase ASJA membership, we want the entire site to be strong in search engine optimization (SEO). That’s particularly important in the Resources section, because we expect it to become a common entry point among new-to-us writers searching for credible information about the business and craft of writing.

To that end, the content reviewers will add SEO elements to each article that will be making the move to the new website. The content curation template contains separate fields for the reviewer to complete, including:

  • Page title: Simple, SEO-focused headline.
  • SEO title tag: Up to six words or 60 characters that further distill the headline for the tab header.
  • Meta description: The blurb Google serves up beside the page title in search, up to 160 characters.
  • Keywords: These include the topic description and original author name.

Of these, it’s the page title that can require the biggest shift in editorial thinking. As writers for print, we all love a clever headline.

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t share our passion for a witty turn of phrase. Instead, Google rewards simplicity and utility because they’re what its users respond to most favorably. And so, we must respond in kind, rewriting our magazine headlines to ones that favor SEO.

Looking ahead, next month we expect to be able to share details about:

  • Final homepage copy and layout, with some exciting member photos occupying pride of place in the banner. (It’s not too late: if you’ve got some stellar action shots of the writer’s life, email Arielle Emmett at aemmettphd@gmail.com.)
  • Web copywriting process and update.
  • Early-stage implementation of the new association management software, including beta member profiles.

In the meantime, thanks for reading!