Content development process

Original content is produced following a standardized process for research, writing, editing, proofing, annotation, visual design and Web conversion. Content managers schedule development of new content and maintenance of existing content in collaboration with Mayo Clinic colleagues. Original content development typically includes these five phases:

  1. Editorial research. After the team agrees on the topic of a content piece, our writers, assisted by editorial researchers, gather best-available source materials for the topic. Best-available source materials vary by topic and may include published medical literature, evidence-based guidelines, or a Mayo Clinic physician or scientist who has distinct interest, training and expertise in the topic. Often these individuals are leading authorities in their fields. The team follows a standardized procedure for selecting, documenting and verifying best-available medical literature, and storing references. Specific content verified includes statistics — incidence, volumes and outcomes — and other verifiable statements of fact.
  2. Editorial style. The editorial team adheres to these standardized best practices.
    • Editorial voice. Our writers use an inviting tone to present information in the most usable way.
    • Reading levels. Expectations for reading level vary by information type, ranging from eighth-grade or lower for all lay audiences to college or post-college reading level for professional audiences.
    • Formatting. Web users tend to first scan content online, looking for items or topics of interest before committing to reading full pages. Our best practices are designed to facilitate Web-based information gathering.
    • Style guide. The Associated Press Stylebook guidelines and standards serve as the core editorial style reference.
  3. Expert review. Mayo Clinic experts in research, education and the clinical practice contribute to and review for accuracy all original, clinical and scientific information published by the Web content team. At least three physicians or other subject matter experts review all new content for medical accuracy. When content reaches final-draft stage, it reflects contributions and insights of Mayo Clinic writers, editors, and medical editors or other subject matter experts. Medical editors make final judgments on issues of medical accuracy. Third party and social media content is closely monitored for adherence to editorial standards.
  4. Metadata annotation. Content is reviewed by an ontology specialist (metadata librarian) and descriptive metadata, such as subject and audience, is added to the content. The descriptive metadata supports the management, organization, delivery and findability of the content. Annotation strategies are tailored to the different kinds of content and the role or job that it's intended to serve in the Web environment. The metadata used for annotations is aligned with standards when appropriate to support interoperability and exchange of content between systems.
  5. Web production. After content undergoes final editing and proofing, it moves to the production environment, where a Web production specialist enters the content into the applicable content management system, which involves:
    • Ensuring all required metadata fields are populated
    • Thoroughly checking content conversion in a preview environment
    • Ensuring content publishes in its entirety with full functionality

    External links and social media guidelines

    As a service to site visitors, the Web team provides links to a limited number of external websites and social media outlets. External links are identified and reviewed for relevancy and credibility as part of the content development process. Sites generally meet all of these criteria:

    • The site provides information that expands upon our content on the topic and isn't provided on another Mayo Clinic Internet property.
    • Each site's credibility, stability and content quality serve to reinforce the credibility of Mayo Clinic content, such as government sites, medical associations and medically related independent nonprofit sites.
    Mar. 12, 2014