Why Your Team Needs an Editor

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It’s a hawk, with hawk eyes — see what I did there? Or maybe it’s an eagle. Either way. (Image by Luca Huter for Unsplash)

Editors get a bad rap. They’re the nerds of the content and publishing world, limp-muscling their way into your life to hassle you about hyphens and word choice. They just looooove to pounce on your grammatical mishaps and make your life difficult with their stickler demands to fix misplaced commas. Why would you add that kind of abuse to the payroll?

Let’s walk through a scenario: You’re a designer, writer, or dev working hard on a product for weeks or months. Suddenly, you back away from the thing you’re about to launch into the world and realize you have three ways of spelling Brand Name X (is it BrandNameX? brandNameX? Brandname X®?). On top of that, the FAQs suggest two conflicting ways of doing something, the microcopy on the main CTA button varies across pages, and you just spotted a non-brand shade of blue. Was that stuff always there? Are these the only mistakes, or are there others? Has the client spotted them?

Every project gradually accretes its own tumbleweed-of-rat-skeletons made of loose ends, human error, and conflicting content.

Don’t beat yourself up. The details naturally become invisible when you’re the one creating them. But don’t fret: There’s a special kind of person out there who can help you, someone who knows how to sort through that mess and put the chaos in order, come up with a style guide (oh, the beauty of rules and standards!), and act as a gatekeeper of quality.

This magical beast is called a CONTENT EDITOR.

Yeah, he or she could point out the grammatical failings in your last email to your boss, but that person is probably more interested in using their giant owl eyes to find all the inconsistencies, weak word choices, sloppy phrasing, and conflicts with existing content in your project so it can be its shiniest and most unassailably rock-solid.

Why? Because clarity and consistency are beautiful, and they make real people’s lives easier and better. You’ve doubtless experienced this yourself, even if only subconsciously: Using or reading something pockmarked with tiny, subtle mistakes can make you not quite sure of your path forward, slightly less trusting of the people who made this thing, a little less willing to give them your money/time/attention. It’s not about being a grammar nazi (no one likes a know-it-all); it’s about building a strong reputation for yourself so users trust you and creating the smoothest experience with the least cognitive load.

Don’t make them think. Get your stuff edited.

But wait! There’s more! There’s someone else who sees everything you throw over the wall and is judging you way more harshly than the users who glance at your banner ad or download your app to read a single listicle before deleting it: The client.

Even if you have the purest intentions to put users first, you also care what the big bosses think, the ones who sign your checks and give you more work. So why wouldn’t you get someone who has slowly replaced their eyes with error-seeking lasers to look at your stuff before you let the big guys see it?

Let’s sum all this up in a concise equation:

Consistency = Quality = Trust (in both users and clients)

Find yourself a nice editor and settle down. The longer that person is part of your team, the more brand and project knowledge will build up in their brain and the taller the (proverbial) stack of flawless work you deliver will grow.

BONUS: Meanwhile, your own brain, and those of your team, will be free to focus on the things you’re really good at, knowing there’s a safety net at the end of the line keeping you looking your smartest and best.

That’s worth the occasional heated debate about serial commas, right?

Written by

Digital editor, design QA person, UX writer based in Austin, TX.

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