Content, Content, Everywhere, and Not a Moment to Think


Content, Content, Everywhere, and Not a Moment to Think

Aug 07, 2014By mStoner Staff

Nothing stops the momentum of a web relaunch project like the realization you need to write hundreds of pages of content.

Content production terrifies us. We will do anything to avoid it — pretend we didn’t hear correctly, go on an unexpected leave of absence, delegate to the nearest report, deny there’s anything wrong with the current content, or simply never show up to the meeting in the first place. 

If your shiny new website was a club, content production and migration would be the bouncers poking you in the chest and stating, “Nope,” every time you asked “Can we launch yet?”

Content is king. It is the reason you have a website. Without content, you wouldn’t need a design in the first place. Any successful relaunch requires you to tackle content head on.

But where to begin? What needs to be done? How long will it take? Before you pull up an empty document and start writing away, it helps to know what work lies ahead. 

Here’s a quick review of the major steps involved in getting your content relaunch ready:

Content Audit

You can’t know where you’re headed until you know where you are right now. At a minimum, you need to review the content already on your top‐level pages.

Ideally, this step is a chance to go through all those old pages, paragraphs and PDFs — and get rid of anything that’s outdated, poor quality, or inaccurate. Content has been building up around your site for years. You can afford to take a few weeks to clean house. The goal is to come out of this step with a clear idea of what you have that’s reusable and what gaps you need to fill with new content.

Duration: 2 — 4 weeks.

Content Strategy

A good content strategy provides a foundation for planning what content gets produced — both evergreen content that will live on permanent pages, and dynamic content such as social media, news, and events. It also outlines who will produce that content, and when. A content strategy can include a number of different components, but these are some of the most common:

    1. Planning and editorial calendars.
    2. Content templates to help standardize the content creation process. These templates answer the following:
      1. What is the primary message of this page?
      2. What are the primary actions I want visitors to take?
      3. What are the primary emotions I want to evoke in visitors?
    3. Guidelines for content producers: How to write solid web copy, photo and video usage, editorial style, tone, and voice.
    4. Process for production, revision, and publication: How will content be produced and revised?
    5. Governance and staffing: Who will do the work and ultimately be in charge of decisions?

For more on content strategy, I recommend this two‐parter from mStoner senior strategist Susan Evans: Concretely, Content! Part 1 | Part 2

Duration: 4–12 weeks to produce, refined annually.

Content Production

Production breaks down into two major areas of work: creating new content and keeping track of all that new content as it goes through multiple revisions. There’s a lot of logistics and a lot of time spent chasing down content experts, editing, and revising. The secret? This is a process, not a single task. It’s an ongoing, ever‐necessary part of your job as a digital communicator.

If you’ve done things correctly, you’ll have a sustainable content production ecosystem that provides quality content to the website beast ad infinitum.

Duration: Forever.

Content Migration

If you’re moving to a new content management system as part of your relaunch, you’ll need to move content from the old system to the new at some point. Don’t let the CMS’ promises of “automated migration” fool you. This process is a manual, tedious one even in the best of circumstances. Make sure to build in ample time and pull in additional resources to tackle this stage.

Duration: 6 -10 weeks, though time will vary based on volume, resources, and institutional willingness to cooperate.

Want more help taming the content beast?