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GatherContent vs. word processing tools

Adam Hawes • 3 minutes

Lots of people use word processing tools, like Word and Google Docs, to write content for their websites.

‘It’s familiar’ and ‘we’ve always used it’ are two common reasons for this. But familiarity and habit aren’t enough, because these tools aren’t designed to produce high quality operational content, like website content, at scale.

There’s a much better way to get content done. GatherContent.

Content delivery using word processing tools:

❌ No clarity on what version of the content is being worked on
❌ Hard to know who needs to do what, and by when
❌ Content is lost in email discussions and shared folders
❌ Poorly written content that doesn’t meet the required style and format
❌ Unstructured content that isn’t ready for the CMS
❌ Lack of granular roles and permissions for large content team
❌ Lots of nasty HTML inserted (not ideal for the web!)
❌ Hard to track content progress (especially with lots of stakeholders and a complex workflow)
❌ Also need other tools, like project management software, for effective management

Content delivery using GatherContent:

✅ Collaborate on content in real-time
✅ Define a clear workflow, roles and deadlines
✅ Automated reminders
✅ Have all content in one place
✅ Create templates for structured content
✅ Provide inline instructions and define word and character limits
✅ Easily migrate content (as clean and beautifully formatted HTML) to the CMS

Still not convinced?

The trouble with word processing tools

When it comes to website content, word processing tools present several challenges:

The blank canvas. There is no relationship or context between this empty white space and the platform being used to publish content to your website.

A lack of structure and guidelines. When presented with a Word document, it doesn’t help authors to consider how content needs to be formatted ready for a CMS, or what the published content will look like when live on a website.

A big space to fill. Authors are being asked to write content and have a huge space to fill, even though, they may only need to write a few sentences. Word documents breed unnecessary copy and huge chunks of unstructured text.

The sooner you can get authors thinking about the structure of the content, the easier it will be to collaborate with design and development teams around a shared understanding of how content needs to be written, formatted, and delivered.

Even if content is written in Word or a Google Doc, it doesn’t mean the above challenges have been overcome and all is well. Now you’ll be faced with problems such as:

  • Overwriting other people’s changes
  • No way to track who changed what and when
  • No way to know what final_final_V11-accepted.doc actually means
  • Difficulty suggesting changes on content
  • Difficulty collaborating on a shared folder of Word documents
  • Uncertain who to talk to about the content
  • No workflow around the content
  • No easy way to display guidelines/expectations for a piece of content

The result of all this means you have content all over the place, aren’t sure what version is final, are unclear what’s left to do and who is involved and it may all need to change anyway when you start to think about structuring the content for the CMS. Even if it is formatted as needed, it may not be in the right style, tone, voice or personality because no guidelines were provided at the point of creation.

Sigh 😫

Using Word or Google Docs to produce website content also has a negative impact on the process around content delivery.

There won’t be a clearly defined workflow with specific tasks allocated to the relevant people. Contributors will email web content in formats of all shapes and sizes. That means lots of time is spent decoding the content which is completely mismatched from what the CMS is expecting. Then there are issues related to junk code that is copied across from the various sources.

When you use tools that haven’t been created for the task at hand, you can expect to experience a number of symptoms. It’s time for another list of content pains:

  • Content emailed in different formats (PDF, Word)
  • Impossible to edit, comment, format
  • Don’t have the software to open this document
  • Can’t comment on this document
  • Documents in the wrong format for publishing
  • Content doesn’t follow the rules outlined in the style guide
  • Content doesn’t follow the rules of the CMS
  • Content doesn’t follow the structure of the CMS
  • Big messy blobs of content
  • No meta data
  • No formatting guidelines- content doesn’t follow the SEO guidelines
  • Incorrect content being submitted (asked for a PNG, you submitted a JPG)
  • Pasting between tools

“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, BigSpring

A Content Operations Platform created for website content

GatherContent is a Content Operations Platform that helps teams produce content that meets audience needs and achieves business goals — at scale and with confidence

The key features ensure there is a clear workflow around content delivery, guidelines are communicated when authors need them to ensure content is written as needed, and content is structured to be easily migrated to the CMS.

Real-time content collaboration: Collaborate on content, live, using a content editor that’s designed to guide authors to produce high quality content.

Clear workflow, in one place: Gather and organise content in one place and manage people and tasks to deliver content on time.

Templates for structured content: Structure content and provide guidelines to ensure content is consistent and formatted as you need.

Easy migration: Easily migrate approved content into the CMS (or wherever it needs to be), ready to go live.

“GatherContent is a game changer. Our content processes used to involve an ineffective mix of spreadsheets, documents, and a slew of file storage solution. Version control was a nightmare and proofing was always an afterthought. With GatherContent we’ve solved all of those problems and more.”

Mark McClendon Partner and Executive Director, VML

Wave goodbye to confusion of versions, unstructured and ineffective content and chaotic migrations. Use GatherContent to deliver the right content on time, in the right structure and format and keep projects on track and in budget.

Word processing tools weren’t designed for writing website content. GatherContent was and here’s why you should use it instead of Word and Google Docs

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Mark McClendon
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

Adam Hawes

Commercial Director, GatherContent

Adam looks after the commercial performance of GatherContent. Ensuring they are building a fast-growing business that’s delivering lots of value to their customers.

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