Recently, at IA Summit 2009, I had the opportunity to share several of these content quality checklists with some conference attendees who participated in the Content Strategy Consortium that Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic and Karen McGrane of Bond Art+Science  coordinated. The people who participated in that discussion provided excellent feedback that has helped me refine the checklists.
Content Quality Checklists
In my experience, a common misperception of the evaluation of content quality is that its scope is limited to the correction of typos and grammatical errors. Correcting spelling and grammar only scratches the surface. To truly consider content quality, we need to examine its quality along several dimensions. Consequently, the content quality checklists that follow cover everything from usefulness to voice to accuracy.
- Usefulness & Relevance:
- Does the content meet user needs, goals, and interests?
- Does the content meet business goals?
- For how long will the content be useful? When should it expire? Has its usefulness already expired?
- Is the content timely and relevant?
- Clarity & Accuracy:
- Is the content understandable to customers?
- Is the content organized logically & coherently?
- Is the content correct?
- Does the content contain factual errors, typos, or grammatical errors?
- Do images, video, and audio meet technical standards, so they are clear?
- Influence & Engagement:
- Does the content use the most appropriate techniques to influence or engage customers?
- Does the content execute those techniques effectively?
- Does the content use too many or too few techniques for the context?
- Does the content include all of the information customers need or might want about a topic?
- Does the content include too much or too little information about a topic for the context?
- Voice & Style:
- Does the content consistently reflect the editorial or brand voice?
- Does its tone adjust appropriately to the context—for example, sales versus customer service?
- Does the content convey the appropriate editorial and brand qualities?
- Does the content seem to have a style? If so, does the content adhere to it consistently?
- Does the content read, look, or sound as though it’s professionally crafted?
- Usability & Findability:
- Is the content easy to scan or read?
- Is the content in a usable format, including headings, bulleted lists, tables, white space, or similar techniques, as appropriate to the content?
- Does the content have the appropriate metadata?
- Does the content follow search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines—such as using keywords—without sacrificing quality in other areas?
- Can customers find the content when searching using relevant keywords?
A Few Caveats
While I think these content quality checklists are a good place to start, it’s important to note several caveats relating to their scope and appropriate use.
- As for any heuristic evaluation or competitive analysis, the expertise of the person evaluating the content is as important as the heuristics he or she uses.
- An expert opinion is still an opinion. It is also important to consider other indicators of content quality such as Web metrics, usability testing, and customer feedback.
- These checklists do not entirely fit user-generated content or user assistance content. However, I think variations of these basic checklists might be useful for those contexts.
- These checklists certainly do not replace other important content strategy tools such as detailed content inventory and analysis.