Before we get started, what do we mean by "content standards"?
What we're talking about is setting guidelines for how your content should look, how policies and processes should be formatted, how roles and responsibilities are to be used, those kinds of things. You want to make sure these standards have been decided and obviously, documented.
In this strategy guide, we'll go over the different types of standards you should establish and why.
💪 Coach's Tip: Search for and add the Content Creation Standards Template to your account! This will give you a solid start in documenting your standards.
Step 1: Set and Lock your Account's Branding Styles
In the hustle and bustle of just getting things documented (which is totally important), don't forget to also customize your account's brand styles. This is also important because it gives your account an identity: Yours!
💪 Coach's Tip: Lock your brand styles! This establishes your custom settings as THE standard and ensures that only the heading styles you've selected can be used when others create content. You'll find this setting in your Account's Advanced Settings.
Step 2: Define your Subject Standards
Aside from consistency, another big important reason to establish standards is clarity. When it comes to your content, the first thing people see is what you've called it. If it's not clear what it is, then it's not helpful, and that defeats the entire purpose of your documentation effort.
We recommend establishing clear naming conventions for Subjects, Topics, Steps, and Collections. Spell them out very specifically. Here's an example of our format for Subjects appearing on the Policies page:
Putting this simple standard in place will have a great impact on your team members' ability to quickly find what they are looking for in Trainual.
Another standard to define is how Subject Owners are used. We recommend requiring a designated owner for every Subject in your account. That makes it perfectly clear to everyone who oversees a particular subject and who they should go to if they have questions or concerns.
Step 3: Establish your Content Standards
Next, determine the guidelines for how your actual content should be created, what it should (and shouldn't) include, and what it should look like.
For example, you should decide on guidelines for things like:
How long should Subjects be? How many Topics or Steps is too much?
How much multimedia should we include?
When should tests be used? What's the maximum number of questions to have in a test? Who will receive the test results?
When should we use videos? What's the maximum length for videos?
The answers to these questions will vary depending on your business. If you need help determining what your content guidelines should be, contact support and ask to be connected with a Success Coach.
Once you have your guidelines identified, document them (yeah, there's definitely a trend here 😉).
Here's an example from our own standards documentation:
Obviously, not everything you build in your Trainual account will be the same. How you format a "policy" may differ from how you format a "process". This is something else you should decide on and document. To make it super easy for your content creators, build out your own templates for policies, processes, and any other types of content you will regularly be building in your account. That way, when a content creator needs to build a new process, they just need to duplicate your established "process" template, and they'll be on their way to consistency-land!
💪 Coach's Tip: Search the Templates library for our subject starter templates:
Step 4: Define your Roles & Responsibilities Standards
Roles can be used for all kinds of things...which is great! The challenge is making sure they are being used for the right reasons. Establishing clear standards for what your company will use Roles for will help you keep a clean, concise, and intentional list.
For example, we have established 2 primary types of Roles:
department (for team-specific content)
position (for job-specific content)
We do have other Roles that we use for very specific and strategic purposes, but most will fall under the two types above, and we've made that standard clear to anyone who has permission to create Roles.
Each Role should have a description so it's clear to anyone what that Role is.
Add to the clarity by requiring that each Role includes the line item Responsibilities that correlate to it:
💪 Coach's Tip: When appropriate, adding links to relevant content in Trainual (or other sources) is a great way to add clarity to Roles!
Step 5: Document ALL of your Content Standards
Once you've identified all of your content standards, make sure you document them in Trainual. As I mentioned at the beginning, you can start from the Content Creation Standards template, make adjustments as needed, and get it out to your team so everyone will be on the same page, and your Playbook will be the clear source of truth you've always wanted it to be.
Need help? Book a free coaching session!