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How to Build a Copy Review and Handoff Workflow

Jessica Ouyang
July 6, 2023

When building product, text takes shape in many different forms. It’s passed between a multitude of tools and stakeholders, often making it tricky to build a robust review workflow.

With an inefficient copy review and handoff process, team members are spending more time chasing down the latest text and moving it between tools than actually iterating on the product. Often times, it can be a game of message ping-pong between different stakeholders: “Is this final?” “Has this been approved by compliance?” “Is the latest text in QA?” “What’s the latest on this?”

Just a few of the stages (and corresponding tools) a copy review workflow often has to incorporate include:

  • ✍️ Initial drafting and editing of text (Google Docs, Word, Sheets)
  • 🎨 Iteration in context of designs (Figma, Sketch)
  • ✅ PM review (Figma, Docs, Sheets)
  • ⚖️ Legal/compliance review (PDFs, Sheets, Word)
  • 💻 Developer implementation (GitHub, staging, local development, etc.)
  • 🔏 Edits to text in production (Jira, Linear, GitHub)
  • 🌏 Sending text for translation (Crowdin, Lokalise, Phrase, contractors, Sheets)
  • 🧪 Validating text with A/B tests (Optimizely, LaunchDarkly, Mutiny)

There are lots of stages that copy goes through — and review is needed at every single one. Today, we’ll be exploring how your team can build a scalable workflow that helps get the right text to the right place, faster.

What are important considerations when building a workflow?

When building an efficient copy review workflow, we want to prioritize both speed and accuracy. After all, accuracy is a core factor in long-term speed. When considering speed and accuracy, there are several questions we ask:

How can we provide the right context at the right time?

  • Not all of the context is needed at every single stage — especially when considering the roles of different stakeholders and the stages in which they’re involved. We want to surface all of the context necessary for teammates to take informed action, but reduce unnecessary information and context-switching between tools.

How can we reduce unnecessary back-and-forths and copy/paste?

  • A lot of times, copy review and handoff is encumbered with work that doesn’t directly contribute to the product development process. This might include managerial tasks like asking “Is this the latest copy?” and “Has [Person X] seen this yet?” or simply operational overhead like copying and pasting between different sources.

Features in your tool belt

With Ditto’s design and developer integrations serving as a single source of truth for product text in all of its stages, several features help teams build a review and handoff workflow.

🚥 Indicating Status

“Is the text for this ready?” “Has this been reviewed yet?” These are questions teams hear constantly when they’ve frankensteined together a copy workflow.

Instead of chasing down individual teammates to ask for copy readiness, you can indicate the status of text in Ditto to be 🔴 Work in Progress, 🟡 In Review, or 🟢 Final. Using these statuses, team members can quickly gain glanceable context, build workflows based on status, and filter text based on readiness.

Oftentimes, we’ve seen teams correlate these statuses to individual parts in their workflows. Some examples include:

  • 🟢 Final to indicate text that’s currently in production
  • 🟢 Final to indicate compliance approval
  • 🟡 In Review to indicate PM approval
  • 🔴 Work in Progress to indicate text written by non-writers
  • And many others!

Any change to text status will show up in a text item’s change history, in addition to the teammate that made the change.

📇 Assigning Owners

When building product, ownership of the text often passes (explicitly or implicitly) from person to person. In Ditto, you can assign text to teammates. This can help build review and handoff workflows in several ways:

  • Teammates get notified (both in-app and directly in their inboxes) when text gets assigned to them
  • You can filter text by assignee — this can be helpful to see any text assigned to yourself, or to see if approval is blocked by an individual
  • Teammates get context at the right time, no earlier or later
  • You can always see who added the assignee directly in the change history

🙋🏻‍♀️ Suggesting Edits

In traditional workflows, suggestions to text often gets buried within comments.

From a comment asking “Can we change this to sentence case?” to “Maybe the second sentence sounds better like …”, using comment features to suggest an edit means both duplicated work and leaving things open to misinterpretation. The person writing the suggestion has to paste portions of text into their comment, and the person implementing the suggestion has to interpret the edit correctly and then integrate the changes.

Instead, you can suggest edits directly to text in Ditto. By switching the mode from “Editing” to “Suggesting,” you can make edits to the text that will save as a suggestion that another teammate can accept, reject, or comment on.

In addition to reducing duplicate work and potential error, suggesting edits is also helpful for teammates that want an additional level of visibility/approval when making edits.

💬 Discussion and @-mentions

Last but not least, discussion is a core aspect of any collaborative workflow. Discussion is how teammates can provide context around choices, dig deeper into decision-making, and sort things out when designing in a complex, nuanced situation (which is often!).

Comments also serve as an audit log — which is often crucial in approval workflows or working with compliance.

Comments and @-mentions in Ditto:

  • Appear in context of edit history. You can always see the changes (edits, status changes, etc.) that took place before and after the comment was left.
  • Are tied to individual text items (rather than a point in the UI). You don’t have to hunt for the comment among dozens of other comments on the visual UI, or worry about losing it if the text gets repositioned in the design file.
  • Can be responded to in our web-app or in Figma through our Figma plugin
  • Can be filtered and iterated through based on the ones that mention you

Creating a Workflow

Using these features, your team can establish a workflow in Ditto that brings the text in front of the right stakeholders at the right time. Whether it’s a first pass writing the text or a final compliance check, Ditto manages the text with a single source of truth so that review and handoff workflows can focus on iterating and improving the end outcome as opposed to hunting down the latest text.

These features build on top of Ditto’s ability to function as your team’s infrastructure for product text — from draft to design to development and any other sources (translation, A/B testing, and more).

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