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How AcademyHealth used GatherContent for their content-first website redesign

by , Content Strategist, GatherContent

AcademyHealth is an objective broker of healthcare information that provides leading health policy publications, course syllabi, research funding, networking opportunities and training programs.

They identified a need to modernise their website through a responsive design and a streamlined topic-based information architecture. They also sought to improve the experience for their editors and the people who manage the content. AcademyHealth’s marketing and communication team wanted a content management framework that would provide the communication team with exclusive live editing privileges and inform other content editors as to when content is being worked on and when it has been approved. Enter GatherContent!

Assembling the right team and selecting the best tools

Palantir were brought on board as AcademyHealth’s strategy, design and development partner and Drupal 8 was selected as the best option for a robust, extensible content management system because of its ability to integrate with multiple external services, strong taxonomy handling, and superior editorial workflows.

GatherContent was then chosen to organise, manage and produce the content for the website. This allowed the team to focus on content production before any development work was undertaken.

Content before code

Creating a new website is a key opportunity for editorial teams to restructure their site’s legacy content. If old content is migrated to the new site without restructuring, a huge opportunity is missed to make sure all content is accurate and going to the right place, with no outdated links to old locations. It also allows an organisation to be creative and innovative in their thinking on how they can improve their messaging and create better content than they had before.

Being able to define a workflow around this process, and keep all production and collaboration on content in one place, is essential to keep a project on track. Content is all-too-often the reason why website projects become delayed or get derailed.

Providing structure for content

AcademyHealth had a lot of legacy content that needed to be restructured, this was a daunting prospect. They needed a way to wrangle their many editors’ revisions as they reworked each individual piece of content in advance of the new site launch.

GatherContent helped mitigate the issues that could come from having multiple editors by providing guardrails for AcademyHealth’s content. The Palantir development team set up fields in GatherContent early on to create a structure and process for feedback between AcademyHealth’s product owner and the many editors who were working on revising content. By standardising fields early on, the product owner was able to maintain a certain level of control over multiple departments’ efforts.

Using real content in the design

When the development team does not know where content is coming from, it makes it difficult to plan functionality, let alone begin development. A lack of definition around the data being migrated can make things so much more complicated and can slow down the whole redesign process to incorporate rounds of revision. Using GatherContent locked that potential issue down and gave Palantir’s development team a well-known data set.

“Code doesn’t become a website until there is navigation and content. Very few of the sites we build have zero editorial content.”

Bec White Development Operations Manager, Palantir

AcademyHealth began preparing their content early in the redesign process, which meant their entire baseline content was ready before development even began. At the end of the first sprint, they were able to see real content in the current menu structure, and it gave them an opportunity to have an authentic reaction to how content would live in the new site.

AcademyHealth validated the information architecture and design through collaborative in-person and virtual testing. The Palantir team was then able to pull those user testing findings into GatherContent, so that the editorial team could tweak and add additional pages as necessary. Some of the design decisions were tied to the fact that AcademyHealth had so much content, and their information architecture was very verbose in that they had a lot of ways of talking about their research and making healthcare better. Using GatherContent created a way for Palantir to design and develop a site that matched exactly what AcademyHealth needed because they had control over the content being used as source data.

Automated migration

The turnaround time between AcademyHealth gaining access to their new site and site launch was quick, largely in part because all of the content had been prepared in advance. The Palantir team made this process even more efficient by writing a Drupal 8 migration source plugin for the GatherContent API. The AcademyHealth team then just had to do a quick, final review of content, following the same review process they had been using throughout the whole project, without having to create any last minute pages.

The results

The AcademyHealth editorial team touched every piece of content, and it gave them real ownership of change. Because they were so engaged in improving their content, it made the whole process quite seamless. The added bonus created by GatherContent was the ability for both teams to see their work merge together quickly.

About the Author

Content Strategist, GatherContent

Rob is Content Strategist at GatherContent. He is a journalism graduate and has previously worked as Studio Manager and Head of Content for a design agency and as an Audience Research Executive for the BBC. He’s a published author and regular contributor to industry publications including Net Magazine, Smashing Magazine, 24 Ways, WebTuts+, UX Matters , UX Booth and Content Marketing Institute. On occasion Rob speaks about content strategy at leading industry events.

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