Is your organization contemplating a website redesign or perhaps launching a new website entirely? Normally, the first thing that organizations want to do is to rewrite all their content - which the idea of overhauling every page of content may already seem daunting. Good news is, it doesn’t have to be a negative experience at all. Instead of doing everything all at once and risk overwhelming the members of your team, what organizations need to do is come up with a content strategy, whether it is a light revision of existing content or a total overhaul complete with new written and multimedia content. Once that has been established, it would provide a clearer picture of the website’s direction and allocation of resources.
Kicking Off Content Strategy - Where to Begin?
The information gathering or discovery phase is the best time to decide whether your organization prefers new content or revised content, or perhaps a combination of both. The bottom line is, a content strategy must be in place. And it’s better if content is a topic of discussion at every phase of the project. Find out if your organization is equipped to comply with a content strategy by asking the following questions:
- Do you have enough in-house writers and editors? If not, do you have a budget to hire freelancers? To focus on the needs of a web redesign, you need to evaluate your other efforts and make decisions about where to place resources. Maybe you skip an issue of the latest newsletter, or you forego a select print project or two, and commit those resources to the content associated with a redesign.
- How effective is your publishing process? Who gets to approve all the content before they get published? The best way to answer these questions is to ask the players involved directly.
- Who else needs to be involved? Legal? Leadership? Other stakeholders? Defining the voices that need to be heard throughout the process as early as possible can help avoid roadblocks down the line.
- And, who takes ownership once all content has been published? Content governance provides direction and guidance around publishing, training, content criteria, roles and responsibilities and other considerations.
Content Audit - The Key to Re-Writing Content
Don’t let your countless amount of content intimidate you. Your team doesn’t have to sift through the hundreds to thousands of pages one by one. Here’s a few ways to tackle this challenge:
- Audit a representative selection of pages or by content types (notice that the common theme throughout is to narrow down)
- Audit a subset of pages/sections of the site based on specific criteria (e.g. analytics, institutional priorities)
- Distribute labor between an external partner or internal resources
- Train site owners (e.g. schools, offices, etc.) to sift through their own content.
The output of your content audit directly informs sitemap development, and identifies what new content is needed to fill gaps, how content needs to be revised, what content can be consolidated, and what content can be archived or removed.
Your Website is a Continuously Evolving Organism
The fact is, it never ends. If you’re an organization that already has a running website, chances are you’ve realized that a successful website requires some ongoing maintenance. And, to properly put this in place, an appropriate budget is needed for added features, functions, and content production. Thankfully, it gets easier and more manageable as your organization continues to dedicate some effort into maintaining your website. It’s always easier to tackle this challenge with a partner whose responsibility is to improve productivity and solve business problems.