Colleen Jones (@leenjones), one of my colleagues from the Content Strategy Consortium (#csconsortium) recently published, “Toward Content Quality” on UXMatters.com. In it, she presents her cool checklists to use as heuristics when evaluating content quality. She’s invited feedback on the checklists, and so I am writing partly for that purpose, but also to put forth a complementary technique.
Colleen’s checklists cover the most important aspects of evaluation, but they imply (to me, at least) that a whole lot of background is already understood, such as the users’ needs, the overall strategy of the site, and most importantly, the measures against which one might gauge the success of the content under review. I don’t mean any criticism at all; I think she’s just more generous than I am, presuming someone has given these issues at least a little thought.
I’d like to propose a parallel activity to a heuristic evaluation of content, which I’m going to call a heuristic description of the content. Instead of saying whether the content meets specific success factors (e.g., does the content do this effectively?), infer from the content itself what its goal is and describe it as fully as possible.