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Strategic insights
Publication Schedule vs. When You Feel Like It?

Written by on August 13, 2006

Should you publish at regular intervals, or does it really matter? In my opinion it doesn't. But, you shouldn't make your publication plan too irregular either.

Of course I got some hefty opposition. Jakob Nielsen ranks not having a publication plan as the 7th worst mistake you can make. Gerry McGovern thinks you should have one too. It is good thing then that they are both wrong.

Why is Jakob Nielsen wrong?

Jakob Nielsen thinks you should have a publication plan because you should meet users expectations.

For a weblog, users must be able to anticipate when and how often updates will occur.

- Jakob Nielsen, Weblog Usability

While this does make sense, there is an important thing to keep in mind

A publication plan may vary without any problems.

As long as you publish at a somewhat regular intervals, small variations will go unnoticed.

On this site I do have a publication plan. I aim to publish at least one article each month, and no more than 2 articles per week. This means that in any given month I will publish between 1-8 articles.

For me this works very well, I can publish something when in the mood - and that in terms helps improve the overall quality. If I had a strict publication plan, like every Monday morning. The plan itself will dictate the quality of my work.

What you do not want to do is to publish at very irregular intervals. If you usually publish every day, taking a week off isn't really a problem, but go for 2 or 3 weeks without publishing something might be.


  • If you visitors mainly view the sub pages of your site, it is because they come for a specific reason, not to check if you have made anything new.
  • RSS is allowing people to keep up-to-date, removing some of the need for a publication plan.

Keep in mind that it is mostly web-centric sites that enjoys the power of RSS. RSS is in general unknown.

Why is Gerry McGovern wrong?

Gerry McGovern thinks you should have a publishing plan because without it you will be less professional.

One of the best and worst developments that the Web introduced was a 24-hour publishing capability. It's great that you can update your website at any time of the day. However, this can often create a laziness and lack of professionalism in how content is published.

- Gerry McGovern, New Thinking

This also makes sense, but I do not think making a publication plan is the best way to solve this.

Instead what you should do is to setup an editorial process. This involves two things:

  1. Decide on a path you content must take before it can be published
  2. Decide what kind of quality requirement it must meet

I use a specific editorial process on this site. Before any article is published it has to be reviewed, and edited before it can go live. And, there has be a 24-48 hour waiting time between the reviewing and editing.

The reason for this is to make sure that every article has a certain quality. Reviewing involves:

  • Checking that it that each sentence is easily understood
  • Deciding what links to include
  • Rechecking the facts.
  • Deciding what articles to include in "see also" and/or "related to"
  • Making sure that it has the right quality

Editing is primarily done to fix spelling and grammatical errors. This one is hard, because English is not my native language.

Create a relaxed plan and include editorial time

My suggestion to you is to only publish when you feel like it - and when the content you publish is high on quality.

Secondary, it wouldn't hurt to "feel like it" at regular intervals. I think Jakob Nielsen and Gerry McGovern is wrong to put so much focus on a publication plan. A publication plan is good thing to have, but it shouldn't control your content.

See Also

This article was inspired by's "Irregular Publishing Frequency"

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.


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