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10 ways to avoid content mishaps with your client

Jeff Doubek • 4 minutes

Content is the lifeblood of an effective and engaging website.

But do you know how to successfully, and reliably, deliver content for a new website?

If yes, then cheers to you… it’s a particularly crucial and daunting phase.

To coin a phrase from usability guru Jakob Nielsen: “removing, moving, and editing content can be one of the most frightening responsibilities.”

I could call this post “10 things I did wrong…” but for the sake of keeping the glass half-full, here are my 10 ways to avoid content mishaps with your client using GatherContent:

1. Set your expectations early

I can’t stress enough how important it is to establish clear expectations with your content creator — whether it’s your client, an internal copywriter, or a freelancer. When content is overlooked, or left as an afterthought, you’ll get an error-prone website build.

Make your content production plan a key step in the web design process.

Having a clearly defined plan is the only way to keep your content workflow on track, and to reduce time wasted on fixing issues with off-track, off-tone, and all-out missing content.

2. Specify template instructions

Be as descriptive as possible when setting up your text field labels, default text, and make use of the guidelines. Your writer has a lot of text to supply, so it’s easy to see how duplications and other content errors occur.

Take full advantage of all the template tools GatherContent offers when setting up your templates. These are important controls over the content. Be sure to let your client or copywriter know why. It’s a good idea to communicate these expectations during your GatherContent orientation (we’ll get into that later).

3. Be vigilant with character and word counts

At first I didn’t think this was all that important. Then I had a team of angry developers trying to stuff ten pounds of paragraphs into a five pound sack. Avoid breaking your design elements by enforcing the character and word counts in your text fields.

Make sure your client or copywriter knows you expect them to keep within the parameters you set. As a fallback, I use a final “Content Validation” stage where I verify content length and a few other variables.

4. Specify image size

Dedicate someone to provide the website images and set them up for success. Do this by being as descriptive as possible in the GatherContent image upload areas about image size, resolution, portrait/landscape orientations, and even subject matter. It’ll save you the headache of searching for new images at the eleventh hour.

5. Create a style sheet

This step is incredibly valuable when your content is coming from multiple sources and you want continuity. When you’re initially creating your pages in GatherContent, build an additional page labeled “Style Sheet.” This is a not-for-publication page that gives the content writer key information like tone, language, jargon, and specific formatting rules like capitalisation rules. It’ll keep your website in a single voice that best reflects your brand.

6. Use your tabs

Go beyond the default content tab. I like to create two additional tabs. First is a tab for Meta Content, which can include important SEO entry for meta descriptions, page titles, and recommended H1 titles. The second tab I create is a Copy Brief tab that provides the copywriter with topical information like purpose, calls-to-action, keywords, and other strategic direction.

7. Get documented final approval

Short and sweet here: have your client email you that all content is approved and final. Once sent, there’s no going back for revisions. Believe me, this agreement comes in handy should there be any conflicts down the line. It’s part of our standard workflow here at Liquid.

8. Finalise your sitemap before content work begins

It’s absolutely disruptive to the content process when your client starts adding and subtracting pages. Your sitemap creates the structure for your GatherContent pages, and sets the foundation for user flow. It’s a big deal.

Once you’ve gotten final approval on your sitemap, only then should you build out your GatherContent pages. Don’t forget to include utility pages like a 404 error page and your contact forms which will need minimal, but important content.

9. Host a GatherContent orientation

Nothing is more important than scheduling your client/writer GatherContent orientation session. Early in your engagement, block out an hour for introducing stakeholders to the platform and walk them through all the features and workflow stages. You can do it remotely or in person. It will avoid any confusion and make the process much easier from your end.

Most important is to show them the messaging feature where they can send you questions, comments, and approval stages automatically. It helps you keep tabs on the content process when your attention is elsewhere.

Here’s the agenda I use:

  1. Login instructions
  2. Overview of different tabs
  3. How to enter content
  4. How to change workflow status
  5. Establishing content due dates
  6. How to use notes and comments

10. Make GatherContent the final say! (and make sure everyone knows it)

GatherContent was the answer to my prayers after one particularly challenging website build where my team mixed up a batch of Word doc revisions.

Version control is the MOST important part of a successful content development process and that’s what GatherContent does best. If there are any questions or discrepancies during the process or after the site launch you can cite your main resource. What GatherContent says is the final word.

Bonus Tip: Include GatherContent in your QA process

Quality Assurance process is an ugly, time consuming, and detailed-oriented process, but it’s also essential to a successful website build. Have your QA team compare your published content against the content in GatherContent for any discrepancies.

Let’s recap

You’ve undoubtedly been told how important content is to your business today.

And why not? Your customers come to expect it enjoy it as the connective tissue they’ll have with your business in 2018, and going forward.

Using GatherContent has certainly played a major role in the website design process we use here at Liquid Interactive. It’s been trial and error, and quite often error has taught me the most lessons. I hope you’ve been able to glean some tips here that’ll make your clients’ content experience smooth and successful.

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Our content processes used to involve an ineffective mix of spreadsheets, documents, and a slew of file storage solutions. With GatherContent we've solved all of those problems and more. Mark McClendon — Partner & Executive Director, VML

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About the Author

Jeff Doubek

Senior Content and UX Strategist at Liquid Interactive

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