By Cathy Hodson
What on earth is a web editor? A web editor is many different things, but primarily, we are editors of website content. Some of us are also designers, some of us are also webmasters, but at our most basic definition – just as an editor of a publication is responsible for the content of that publication, so too is a web editor responsible for the content of a website or websites.
What on earth does that mean? What is an editor? Is an editor one of those crusty, deadline-oriented creatures peering at you over the top of their reading glasses perched precariously at the end of their nose demanding why your article is 3 days late? In some cases, perhaps; although I like to think that might be more apt to a newspaper or magazine editor. Because the Internet is more fluid, more immediate than most print publications, the editor of a website must be someone who can react quickly, provide content quickly, and be able to handle a lot of projects and put out multiple fires all at once. An octopus is a good analogy; so is a one-man band, or a juggler.
A web editor does wear many hats. The editor of a website is responsible for making sure there is fresh content on the website – perhaps soliciting articles, news, events, etc., from various departments within their company’s organization, or from experts outside their company – clients, members, affiliates, etc. Many of us come to web editorship from journalism (as opposed to a computer or designer background) and take great pride in being able to research and write content ourselves, as well as coordinate content from others.
A web editor is responsible for maintaining consistency across the website. This is done primarily through a style. Each publication follows a particular set of guidelines that governs what is capitalized, italicized, abbreviated, etc. See more about Style here. A governance policy is also recommended so that all contributors know what is expected of them. More about that in an upcoming post.
A web editor can be responsible for training others within their company on how to use a content management system, which is basically a publishing workflow system – used when the staffers might require some technical assistance in adding content to the site, or when someone needs to approve what a staffer is adding. A content management system also allows content to go up automatically (through the use of a start date – particularly useful when content has to go up on a weekend or when the authoring staff member might be out of the office at a tradeshow or on vacation) and come down automatically (through the use of an end date) and archive.
These days we are also strategizers – watching over our content and the traffic it generates to determine what our website’s various audiences are interested in, and creating or soliciting content to fill that need.
Web editors plan and coordinate social media activities – getting the word out through the many social media avenues on just what our company is up to, or what the latest news or website update is. We also react to customer service requests and feedback through social media, and in some cases, put out fires.
We are search engine optimizers – tweaking and monkeying with keywords and various other facets of our content to ensure we have optimal positioning under key terms in the main search engine results – both in our website’s search engine and the external search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo! and others.
Most of all, we are people who care about the message. How can we best communicate what we have to say in a way that will grab your attention and make you want to read more?
Stay tuned. You are about to find out!