Thoughts on the scale, financial cost and ramifications for content strategy.

…the average time it takes to review a page of web copy (at least 750 words) is 1 to 2 hours.

A metric based on on timings reported to Gather Content by “hundreds of participants” in their content strategy masterclasses.

Scale ramifications

The thorough review of even a medium size content audit, say 400 items, is clearly extremely time consuming and expensive; both in terms of the opportunity and potential financial costs for the project. This makes it essential to have strategies in place to make a content review process efficient, accountable and effective.

Cost estimation for content reviews

There are three principle costs when reviewing content: time, money and opportunity. What might these look like based on Rob’s estimated average of 90 minutes for each 750 word webpage? Here’s a simple example for a small-medium site, or an indicative assessment of a larger body of content.

Assumptions

  1. 400 content items reviewed, about the maximum for a full audit of a site.
  2. 90 minutes uniform assessment time per item.
  3. £20 per 30 minutes (£60 per content item).
  4. 1 team member accountable for the review effort.
  5. 0 task switching costs and other inefficiencies.
  6. 0 pattern efficiencies from similar content types, like news, events, profiles.

Time: 600 hours

Reviewing 400 content items at 90 minutes each equals 600 hours of effort; or:

  • 5 content items per day, or 25 per week,
  • 16 weeks work at 38 hours per week.

Cost: £24,000

Reviewing 400 content items at £60 each equals £24,000, or a salary (excluding employer costs) for a full-time Web Content Editor / Producer in some parts of the UK.

Implications for content strategy

Clearly this is a simplistic analysis. It ignores the nuance of projects and content. In particular the efficiencies that can be gained by sampling content with similar quality, patterns and type and making reasoned assumptions about the whole. It also wholly omits the cost of improving or creating content later in a project.

Sally Bagshaw estimates that a reasonably detailed info page on a university or council site could easily take 10+ hours of total effort to produce and publish.

Yet it makes two important points:

  1. content reviewing is a real cost (time, money, opportunity)
  2. that cost is relatively easy to define and build into business cases and project plans.

It’s important to be able to understand the investment required to understand content so that you can:

  • give better estimations to projects
  • place a real value on your skills and time
  • sell reviewing content as real work
  • spread the cost over time, by having a process to review regularly

Summary

I’m interested in what you think. Have you ever had access to the kind of resource where you could consistently spend 90 minutes reviewing a content asset of ±750 words? Let me know in the comments.

Further Reading

About The Author

I blog about how to collaborate to design simple, usable and inclusive information experiences that make the lives of customers easier. Read more in the blog Categories and Tags.

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