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How a digital agency use GatherContent to deliver their content-first strategy

Becky Taylor • 3 minutes

Founded in 2008, BigSpring is a web development studio based in Nottingham, UK.

They have a 100% content-first approach to all projects and clients include Jagermeister, BBC, European Commission, Nottingham Trent University and Tigercat. We spoke to their UX Director and Managing Director, Julio Taylor, to discover the main areas of success they’ve had with GatherContent:

  • Use GatherContent to deliver their content-first strategy
  • GatherContent is used at every project stage including wireframing, design and integration
  • Clients write directly into structured pages in GatherContent ready for CMS integration

Delivering a content-first strategy using GatherContent

In 2014 BigSpring made the decision to make all of their projects content-first. That is, they won’t even begin a wireframe unless all content has been received. They take content so seriously that this requirement is clearly outlined in their terms of business.

As early adopters and long term users of GatherContent, they see GatherContent as being central to delivering this strategy. The motivation behind this shift in focus is that people think writing content is easy. It isn’t and so content was being delivered late, was too long and not presentable.

Company founder and UX Director, Julio Taylor, had enough of projects being delayed due to content so a content first approach was introduced and they haven’t looked back since.

A central content tool to replace messy Word Docs

Before GatherContent it was an all too common scenario of many Word documents being sent via email.

Now with GatherContent as the central content tool, it complements the other applications in their process including Basecamp and InVision. For Julio, the investment in GatherContent was the clear winner in comparison to the time needed to decipher long emails. He told us it was also easier to spend 20 mins to train their clients how to use GatherContent than have a developer spend an hour digging for content.

Once they have established the structure of each content type during the research phase, the project manager creates the structure in GatherContent using custom types and fields, using an approved sitemap for reference.

“GatherContent is an absolutely crucial part of the way we work. We would be screwed without it.”

Julio Taylor UX Director and MD

Helping clients with clear guidelines and workflow

Clients add all their content directly into GatherContent, prompted and helped by the tips added by BigSpring such as character and word lengths. They also use the workflow to progress the content through the content production process.

GatherContent keeps the clients focused and gives BigSpring the chance to clean up content before it goes into WordPress. That means the client is focused on what they want to say and not how it should look.

There’s no fear of GatherContent being seen as ‘another thing to learn’ by their clients because they white-label it but also as it is the only thing they need to think about at that time. This keeps them focused on delivering meaningful content on time. No content is accepted unless it has been written and approved in GatherContent. This is also true if any third party writers are brought into projects.

For BigSpring, one of the many advantages is that they can check GatherContent at any time and very quickly get an overview of what clients have logged in, what they added, when they added it and what status everything is at.

Designing with real content thanks to GatherContent

Content is optimised for their client sites via GatherContent. They use inline comments for SEO information and add an additional workflow status in to include this stage in the overall content production process.

GatherContent is also used as a reference tool for wireframing so that BigSpring can wireframe with real content. They identify key pages to wireframe and copy content from GatherContent into the wireframing tool. The designers can also access GatherContent when the project reaches their stage and that means they can design with real content.

“Version control was a big problem with Word documents. What is ‘FinalContentVersion2Proof 3.doc?’ Now we have a definitive single location for all content, GatherContent.”

Julio Taylor UX Director and MD

Mapping GatherContent to WordPress

The relationship between GatherContent and WordPress was extremely important to Julio. They need their tools to work together and they can use GatherContent in a way that makes the technical and integration phases of their projects stress free.

They write a technical specification and build a GatherContent profile based on the content types they need. Then their client fills in the fields as needed so BigSpring can import the content from GatherContent into WordPress with all the custom fields mapped through the plugin. This makes the content transition, in their own words, ‘super quick and seamless.’

Previously BigSpring allowed clients direct access to WordPress but that was a disaster. GatherContent keeps users away from the CMS platform until content is ready to go. If clients get distracted by the CMS prematurely, it distracts the focus from writing content.

This ensures that GatherContent is used at every project stage, from discovery through to putting the site live. It is a key tool to deliver their content first strategy across all of their clients and projects.

How a digital agency use GatherContent to deliver their content-first strategy

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About the Author

Becky Taylor

Marketing Manager, GatherContent

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