Consulting – John Clifford

I'm an independent consultant with fifteen years' all-round agency experience in web content and digital communications.

I cover three main areas:

In addition, I have experience in the following areas, which I can help you with:

Consulting services

Accessibility

Web accessibility refers to the practice of making websites available to all potential users, with particular attention to people with special needs. It's a legal requirement and it makes good business sense, to make your content available to all the people who might want it.

Special needs include the needs of people who are blind or partially sighted, people with hearing difficulties, people who can't use a standard keyboard and mouse, and people with cognitive difficulties.

Much of what you do to make your content accessible is common sense. There are, however, a number of areas where it's easy to accidentally deny certain users access.

I have experience of running accessibility tests using a combination of human user testing and automation. I can help you check whether your website is legal and compliant or explain what might need to be done differently.

SEO (search engine optimisation)

While I can't promise to get your site ranked #1 by Google for the keywords of your choice, I can run checks to see whether you're already doing everything you can to enhance your visibility in Google and other search engines. I can explain if anything could be done differently or better. And I can help you implement any changes and measure the results of those changes.

Quality testing

Website quality testing is a natural extension of the editing process.

A quality test looks at page load speed, broken links, mobile compatibility, cleanness of code, forms, error messages, metadata, and other things that go on behind the scenes and can make all the difference to how usable your site is for your customers or site visitors, and how search engine spiders see it.

Applying tried-and-tested methods combining human and automated testing I can give you a comprehensive list of required fixes – or a clean bill of health for your website if all is well with it.

Translation and localisation

If you've got, or are planning, a website in two or more languages, there's generally more to it than simply translating the text. There are lots of things to think about: for a start, does the source text contain culture-specific elements or parts that have different levels of relevance for different target readers?

Also you need to think about all the non-obvious text that doesn't feature in the main content areas of your website. For example: captions, metadata, image alt texts, button labels, error messages, currency conversions, weights and measures.

As a qualified translator with contacts in the trade, I can help you to define your localisation requirements and make sure they're met.

Content planning

Who is your website for? What do you want these people to be able to do as a result of reading your web content? How will you know if it's working? These questions need to be asked, and answered – before you start creating content.

If you don’t already know the answers to these questions, then probably the first thing you need to do is to come up with a clear statement of purpose. I can help you with this. I'll ask you some questions and then work with you to write up a set of proposed audience and purpose and messaging guidelines along with any editorial style rules and a statement of "what success looks like", i.e. some metrics that will tell you whether it's working. Everything else follows from a clear statement of purpose.

Pair writing

Writing content always takes longer than you thought it would. It can be a painfully slow process.

One increasingly popular way to speed up the process, is to get people writing in pairs. Actually sitting down together with pen and paper, or with a laptop, and working in tandem. This speeds up the review process enormously, and it helps people to overcome writer's block. It's often much quicker than the "sum of the parts" and your output is ready-checked content that will probably be more ready for sign-off.

The pair could be two colleagues, say a subject matter expert and a content owner working together. Or it could indeed be one person from within the company and one from outside.