Pair writing with Student Experience Services

We recently held a pair writing workshop with staff from Student Experience Services (SES), collaborating with them to create better, user-focused content.

What is pair writing?

Pair writing is a speedy way to craft content — it teams up content and subject experts to write together in a 1-2 hour session.

Read more about pair writing in my blog post

We held this workshop for SES as a means to introduce them to a new way of creating content. They have web editors that are both Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and content professionals.

In situations like these, people usually craft content alone when they could benefit from working together – the content professional gets the background information they need on the topic they are writing about, and the SME gets directions on how to best present their content to target audiences.

Workshop process & outcomes

We teamed up SES’s subject experts with content experts from both our teams. Pairs worked together to revise and edit pages on their site.

We first asked pairs to choose a page to focus on and discuss who the target audience of that page was. Based on the page’s title and summary, the content expert had to come up with a list of questions the target audience would want answered on that page.

The content expert then read through the page, assessing whether, where and how well those questions were answered.

This assessment formed the basis of edits pairs made to the page, which included:

  • Cutting unnecessary content
  • Rewording uncommon abbreviations
  • Turning long chunks of information into lists
  • Amending summary sentences to give audiences a better idea of what’s on the page

One SME came away from the experience saying they felt they were able to ‘leech off’ some of the content professional’s expertise. This is exactly what pair writing is about – the exchange of subject information and editorial best practice to make crafting content easier for everybody.

It also speeds up the process for everybody. Had these edits been passed back and forth over email, it might have taken weeks for them to be finalised. In a one hour session, pairs were able to work through 1-3 pages and agree on changes on the spot.

Interested in a workshop?

If you think your department could benefit from a similar workshop, get in touch with us.

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