Whenever you’re planning a project or sitting down to write, think about what you’re making, who it’s for, and why it matters. These questions will help you with that process. As you practice and become more familiar with your subject matter, you can narrow down the list.
- Who is the message for?
- Which groups of people or regions will see it?
- Who will most likely read this? Why?
- What are the reader’s priorities (ease of use, a sense of security, speed, clear information)?
- If there are different audiences, do they have different priorities? How can we reflect those priorities?
- Who is speaking here?
- Do we have survey or analytics data to inform the writing?
- How do people use this content or feature now?
Message and Goals
- What is the message? What do we need to say?
- What does the reader need to understand?
- How does this content serve our goals? What’s its purpose?
- What type of content is this?
- When does a reader see this message? How do they get here?
- What do we want people to do next? This could be a single action or range of choices.
- Does this piece of content relate to a larger flow? Are there other articles, links, or policies that relate to it?
- Are we working toward a particular metric (conversion rate, dollars per order)?
- Are there legal or privacy concerns for this message?
- What are we making or designing?
- What problems are we trying to solve?
- What are the features of the website? How does it behave?
- If this is a new feature or section, do we have anything like this already? Will there be more features like this in the future?
- What does success look like for this project in 3–6 months?
- Who needs to sign off on this?
- Does everyone understand their role in the project?
- Who knows more about this topic?
- Do we have any verified sources?
- How will the content get published? Who is responsible for that?
- When is it due? Does it relate to an upcoming launch?
- Are there budget or timing concerns?
- How long will it take to write, review, approve, and publish the content?
- How hard is it to change?
- Does it need to be translated into other languages? How long will that take?
- Should this roll out over time for different regions?
- What’s the final format (plain text, HTML, Markdown, etc.)?
- Are there any technical constraints or character limits?