Producing website content that meets user needs is time consuming.
Fact. Underestimate this and your wider website project is at risk. But it needn’t be all doom and gloom. There are a few things you can put in place to increase the chances of successful content delivery:
- An inventory of the content on the current site
- An assembled content delivery team
- A list of researched, validated and prioritised user needs or stories that your new website is going to meet
- A list or sitemap of the content items you expect to deliver on your new site
- A web content style guide
- A content delivery workflow
- A tool or method to track the ownership and progression of content items through the production process
These items will evolve during the course of your website project and content delivery as you learn and iterate. In this article we’ll look at each item and determine why they are important for content teams to implement.
An inventory of the content on the current site
Without knowing what content currently exists, it’s impossible to gain an understanding of the scope for getting content delivered on the website project. It’s essential to know the current state of play and creating an inventory will determine the starting position.
From the inventory a content audit can take place which will surface:
- What content is fine as is and can be migrated to the new site
- What content is no longer effective and needs to be archived
- Where there are gaps for new content to be created
- What existing content is relevant but needs to be rewritten/refined
This process will also help determine who the content owners are, when content was published and if there is any governance in place for the content too.
Create an inventory to use as a basis for an audit and understand the scope of the work that’s needed to get the content needed. This can help with planning for resources, timescales and budgets so there are no (or fewer) nasty surprised and obstacles once the project is underway.
An assembled content delivery team
Having dedicated resource, in terms of people, is going to ensure content is given the attention it deserves. Content will be a priority rather than tacked onto people’s to do lists, shoehorned into job descriptions and generally forgotten about in the hope it’ll just get done.
Assembling a content delivery team means that:
- There are clear roles and responsibilities to get content done
- Content won’t get stuck in bottlenecks
- Content will be considered throughout the project
- Better and more effective content will be published
Whilst crewing up and bringing in experts may be met with resistance from the powers-that-be as they see it as an unnecessary cost, having the right people in place to ensure content is delivered can actually save time and money (and stress!) because it isn’t treated as an afterthought that can delay projects or result in content that doesn’t meet a business goal or user need.
Researched, validated and prioritised user needs
It’s important to understand your audience, but content success is more likely if you understand them. Listing user needs or stories will ensure that when content is produced it is relevant and useful.
The user stories will help the content delivery team understand what their audience needs and want to achieve and then content can be produced to help them do so.
Creating user stories is a good opportunity to collaborate with subject matter experts and stakeholders too. Embed this into the discovery phase or early stages of the website project.
Keeping content focused around user needs means that the team can have confidence that the content being delivered is purposeful and that will have a direct impact on successfully meeting both user needs and business goals.
A list or sitemap of the content items you expect to deliver on your new site
Following the aforementioned content inventory and audit, an outcome should be a list or sitemap of the content items that are needed.
Having this to hand is useful in many ways:
- A clear understanding of how much (and what) content needs to be produced
- A basis to prioritise content (important if budgets mean publishing in phases)
- The design team will be able to get to grips early on with the scope of the site
- The developers can begin to plan for the latter stages of the project
The sitemap or list can literally be used to check off content items as they are approved. It’s also important for everyone involved to be aware of the scope of the project so stakeholder and client expectations can be managed effectively.
A web content style guide
The style guide is one of the most useful tools in any content delivery team’s toolbox. It will help writers create content that’s:
- Written in the house/correct style
- On brand
- In the appropriate voice and tone
- Uses the right language
- Consistent and authentic
Style guides are especially important when there are lots of people creating content or new people are brought in. It’s a sure-fire way to help writers deliver content in the way that’s needed and achieve consistency across all content.
A content delivery workflow
Hand-in-hand with people, when it comes to content delivery, is process. Defining a content delivery workflow allows teams to identify all of the stages content must pass through in order to be published. Some typical stages include:
Stages will vary from organisation, team and project but having a process in place means that content won’t be stuck in bottlenecks and there is accountability and transparency for how content will be delivered.
Without a clear workflow, teams run the risk of content delaying projects as it isn’t clear who needs to do what and by when. The knock-on effect of this is that websites don’t launch and so invoices can’t be issued. Meanwhile, morale plummets and relationships become strained.
Workflow is key to project success and content delivery.
A tool or method to track the ownership and progression of content items through the production process
You’ve got a workflow and team in place. That’s half the battle. But effort is still required to keep content moving and stay on top of the status of all content as the project progresses.
Options for managing and tracking this process include:
- A spreadsheet
- Communication platforms like Slack
- Project management platforms like Basecamp
Whatever the chosen method, someone needs to be responsible for this and gathering the updates, communicating these effectively and keeping the process moving.
Even with people and processed established, bottlenecks can still be reached and delays still happen if someone doesn’t take ownership of the overall process. The value here is that at any point during the project a correct status of progress and what’s left to be done can be quickly determined and shared with stakeholders and the wider project team as needed.
Getting ready for content delivery
There is a lot of work involved in getting all of the above in place. That said, the investment up front can save time and money in the long-term as content will be planned, produced and published on time, whilst serving the user needs and business goals.
If you want to find out more about successfully delivering content, including assembling a content delivery team, defining a content delivery workflow, and prioritising content, check out our free book: Content Delivery: Deliver high quality website content, on time and in budget.