Editorial Guidelines for Optimal Workshop

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These guidelines are in place to ensure consistency, and to ensure our blog contains web-friendly content. Follow these guidelines when drafting your blog. We will suggest or make editing changes to your draft based on these guidelines as well.

The content is original and in-depth

We want our blogs to have a clear raison d'être (reason for existence). The web is overflowing with content, and people (including ourselves) are over half thought-out theories and click-baity lists. So we want our blogs to cut through the noise and offer something authentic and weighty.

Therefore, our blogs need to:

  • be between 1000–1600 words (if your blog needs to be shorter or longer than this, have a chat to us)
  • include a truly original insight and/or approach to UX research, design, and development
  • contain in-depth, well-considered, and well-developed ideas and case studies that give our readers something special and life-affecting
  • share personal and authentic experiences, examples, conversations, projects, photographs, and drawings.

The structure is designed for web readers

Don’t write for suspense. We enjoy page-turners as much as the next person, but our readers want  be able to pick up our main ideas quickly and easily. Or, if you do want your readers to wait for the end to get your main points, then make sure the beginnings and middles of your blogs are compelling enough to take them there.

Chunk your information into easy-to-understand sections, and keep your paragraphs short and to the point. Bullet points are OK, but only if your lists are short, punchy, interesting. Well-structured paragraphs, introduced with an informative headings and topic sentences, are better than bullets, any day.

The title and headings are informative and compelling

Tell the reader as much as they need, but not more, in your title. We want  readers to know the general topic or takeaway point in the heading, but we also want to inspire them to read deeper, find out more, read to the end.

A general guideline for length would be 4–10 words long, but it's really up to you. As long as they give the reader some information, and also be slightly mysterious, that's all we need. If you can write us a 2-word heading that is both informative and compelling, I'd love to read it.

We're fans of frequent headings and subheadings to prevent readers being faced with intimidating walls of text. Include headings that enable the reader to skim read your blog and pick up interesting and useful hints about what they'll find when they read deeper. Be quirky. Be original. Be useful.

The sentences are well-constructed, grammatically correct, and easy-to-read

Stick with shorter sentences, unless you are especially talented at using commas and dashes to punctuate long, ambling, rhythmic sentences. Variety is good as well. Following a 20-word sentence with a 3-word sentence can add power.

Write as much as you can in the active voice, simply because it's clearer and more direct. Check out this great article on the difference between the active and passive voices.

Get your grammar right before you submit your draft. If grammar isn't your strong point, run your draft past someone who loves it, or let us know and we'll pay special attention to getting the grammar right when we edit.

The tone is conversational

We want you to sound like YOU. One of the reasons we invite guest bloggers is to share a range of voices and views. So the closer you can remain true to your writing voice, the better.

We're fans of personal pronouns, particularly 'I' and 'You', because these enable you to connect more with readers. Using 'I' also suits the blogging form. If you're writing in the third person — for example, if you're reporting on research findings — then using the active voice and keeping your sentences short and free of too much jargon will help you to keep your tone conversational.

Read your work out loud when you're checking it. If it sounds stiff and formal, you'll need to change things to make it sound more relaxed and human.

The links and quotes are accurate, useful, and timely

If you want to link to outside resources, go ahead. Make sure each link is accurate, and that they don't take readers to pages or websites that contain 'objectionable material' (we'll leave it up to you to figure out what that means!).

Link to high-quality content that will add depth and interest to the content you've written.

If you're quoting text, make sure to accurately link to the source, or make it clear where you got the text from (ie Name of author, name of book, page number).

The images are high-quality, original, and clearly referenced

All our blogs are illustrated with an original sketch as the featured image by someone here at Optimal Workshop, or by our writers. If you've got an idea for an image, send your idea or a sketch along with your draft.

We encourage you to illustrate your blog content with images. Ideally you've created your own original drawings, screenshots, or wireframes. If not, send us the source of the image, and proof that you own a licence to publish it.

On your draft, add a note telling us exactly where each image belongs in your blog, and email your images separately and correctly labelled.

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If you have any questions or comments about these guidelines, email kathryn@optimalworkshop.com.

And if you can break all our rules in a single article and we still want to read it, we’ll probably publish it.

Published on Aug 12, 2014
Kathryn Reeves

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