Considering Content for a New Website: 5 Questions
Do you know how many individual pieces of content you have? What about which of those meet your editorial standards? If you are designing a new website, it’s time to find out. Have you ever heard the expression “it’s like putting lipstick on a pig”? Not to berate pigs, they’re great, but that’s the best analogy for redesigning a site without considering your content. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re about to build or redesign your website, there are a few key questions you should ask yourself to ensure that your content is just as great as your new design, architecture, and technical solution.
1. How much content do I have?Content inventories—exhaustive lists of pages and files—are the best way to get a good picture of a website’s content. These inventories are most often spreadsheets and don’t have to be difficult to execute. You will want to know some basics like the length of titles, how many people have visited the page in the past year, and how long they have spent there.
2. Is my content helping me achieve my site goals?It doesn’t matter how much content you have if it isn’t in service of your organization’s site goals. You will want to find out if what you have is any good. Using your content audit spreadsheet, determine if your content is in line with your current editorial standards for voice and tone, if it is using digital content best practices, and if it is performing well on the site. Determine if the page needs to be rewritten, left as is, or thrown out altogether.
3. Am I missing anything?After taking a quantitative and qualitative look at your content, patterns have likely emerged. Gaps have likely emerged, too. At this step in the process, the content team should be combing through the audit to see what kinds of content needs to be rewritten, reworked, or created anew with an eye on whether or not your content helps achieve site goals and meets your branding standards You also might find that there is an opportunity to improve your SEO by using keywords strategically across the site. At this point, you should also be able to get a sense of how much research or fact-finding will need to go into each piece of content.
4. Who is going to help me fix my content?By now you’ll likely have a list of pages that either need to be rewritten or created from scratch. Now, you’ll want to find out who is best positioned to write this content. You will want to assign both writers and editors to ensure that the facts are right and that it fits within your editorial style. Having someone edit all your content ensures that you avoid the pig with lipstick scenario.
5. How will I ensure that I keep my content up to date and fresh?You’ve fixed all your content and you are ready to migrate it to your new site. But wait—who is going to make sure that content is updated regularly and maintains your unique brand voice? You will want to determine a governance process for how and when you will update content and who will be in charge of the various parts of the process. Though time-consuming, defining your content needs and taking the time to ensure that it as top-notch as your new site will help you get the most of your site investment. Investing the time up-front to get it out of the way (or getting someone else to do it) will ensure smooth sailing on the approach to launch.
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