The Interactive World of Mobile: Where do editors fit?

May 20, 2013
Topics covered in this article:

Do You Need a Mobile Editor?

Does your mobile project need an editor? And will any professional editor do?

The Interactive World of Mobile: Where Do Editors Fit? by Shelly Bowen

Can a traditional editor be a mobile editor? The editing skills are the same, but the overall experience is very different from traditional or even web editing, specifically:

  • Mobile development process is faster and more collaborative
  • Change happens more quickly
  • The output is so much smaller

These things seem obvious, but they really affect an editor’s work. Editors of mobile must become agile editors.

What Makes an Agile Editor?

Agile editor for mobile editing

An agile editor should be proactive and forward-thinking, and make herself or himself available throughout the project, not just during the we-need-content phase. Editors can be very helpful during the planning and development process, listening and looking at context -- the elements that come before and after and may not be words at all, but influence meaning and understanding. They can save developers space and time and make a project build happen more smoothly. Editors, traditionally, are wordsmiths. Editors of mobile -- or any interactive experience for that matter -- must go beyond words. If you are working with lean startup principles, on responsive design (where a website responds to and changes for a mobile display), or in an agile development cycle, an agile editor (plus a content strategist!) would be a powerful addition to the team.

Can You Recognize an Agile Editor?

  • Agile editors are fast, flexible, and unfazed by change.
  • They ask “What happens before this? After this? And when?” They want to see your content strategy.
  • They cut everything unnecessary, but still maintain clarity and consistency.
  • Mobile editors edit for mobile first, then embellish for web.
  • Agile editors are proactive and helpful at all phases of the mobile project.
  • They will fight to ensure the content strategy is not lost along the way.
  • Agile editors are keepers of story, and advocates of audience. They frequently step back and think about the audience and how they feel.
  • Agile editors protect you from embarrassment.

Not all editors are comfortable editing content for mobile. I recently gave a talk (see slides) to a group of traditional professional editors. The response was wildly diverse; some editors were excited about the possibility of expanding on their areas of expertise and some didn't want to have anything to do with an experience you couldn't edit on a Word doc. Asking a professional editor a few questions about his/her experience with mobile will definitely help you find the right person. What's your experience with mobile editors or mobile editing? I'd love to hear about it.

About the Author: Shelly Bowen

Shelly Bowen, content strategist

Shelly Bowen, MFA, is a content writer, content strategist, and founder of Pybop.

For decades, Shelly has written for businesses on complex topics from disease prevention and medical devices to alternative energy and leveraging data. Today, she's hyper-focused on supporting B-B technology businesses. In her spare time, she hikes, kayaks, draws, and works on her T-Bird.

A wide variety of brands rely on Shelly as an essential freelance writer and content strategy resource.

Follow Shelly on Instagram @pybop or connect on LinkedIn. More about Shelly and Pybop.

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