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How GatherContent helped us redesign our agency’s website

by , Senior Content Strategist, WillowTree, Inc.

At WillowTree, the mobile product agency where I work, we create websites for our clients every day. We’ve got this website thing figured out. Our own website would never become outdated—right?

Wrong.

WillowTree had grown and evolved, while our website hadn’t, so it no longer showcased the world-class agency we’d become. A couple of examples:

You get the idea. The website needed revamping, in terms of design, technology, and of course, content. That’s where I came in.

Shoes for the cobbler’s kids

Fortunately, when I joined the agency last year, WillowTree already had a savvy Marketing team with a solid understanding of our site’s content needs.

The team knew we had several internal stakeholders whose approvals we’d need to collect, so we decided to use GatherContent to help us with that.

In the end, we were so glad we did.

Here’s how GatherContent benefitted our project.

Customisable page templates

GatherContent allowed us to set up our own page templates, which was incredibly helpful to our writers. For example, I could create a template for the Software Engineering page with sub-services and “Expertise” fields, and let the writer follow the template when creating content.

A customisable Template created in GatherContent for a case study.

This took some pressure off writers, since they didn’t have to try to create a structure for each page from scratch. It also prevented them from straying too far outside of the content types we’d already planned for each page (in this example, 1-2 paragraphs describing each subservice, and bullets for specific tactics or expertise).


Writing case study content in GatherContent.


A case study live on the WillowTree website following content production in GatherContent.

Setting up fields for easily forgotten content like metadata and required images also prevented us from happily sailing along the approval process while key content elements were missing, resulting in a last-minute fire drill.

No fire drills = a happy team.

Wrangling content approvals

On past projects, I was accustomed to setting up a spreadsheet to serve as a content matrix for tracking the copywriting production and approval processes. It worked, to a point. But it was tough to get people to participate in tracking the status of their copy—both writers and approvers—when the content’s status was separate from the content itself.

GatherContent helped with this in two main ways:


Inline commenting in GatherContent, a key part of WillowTree’s editing and approval process.

Configurable milestones

Did I mention that we really loved seeing the status for each page alongside the copy itself? Well, we did. We also loved that we could custom-configure each milestone in our workflow.

Since we were using Contentful as our production content management system (CMS), our last milestone was “Moved to Contentful.”

Our custom milestones in GatherContent kept everyone informed about content status.

Flexible output

At one point, I toyed with the idea of outputting all of our content from GatherContent as HTML or using GatherContent’s API, so we could import it into Contentful at once. Although this was an option, our site wasn’t that big, so we simply moved content over manually.

But it’s nice to know that, for larger projects, the export capability is there.

Life after launch

GatherContent helped us solve a number of thorny problems I’ve had with other website redesign projects:

Hero image for the redesigned WillowTree website.

Today, the website’s live, and both our team and our customers are very happy with it. The project surpassed our expectations—and GatherContent was a big part of making it happen.

About the Author

Senior Content Strategist, WillowTree, Inc.

Melanie Seibert works on websites, mobile apps, and digital products at WillowTree in Charlottesville, Virginia. She has taught content strategy at General Assembly, and helped create websites at Razorfish, Rackspace, cPanel, and other interesting companies. You can find her on her own content strategy blog, Prose Kiln, and on Twitter at @melanie_seibert.

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