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How a city council use GatherContent for cross-organisation content collaboration

by , Marketing Manager, GatherContent

Founded in 1974, Leicester City Council is the unitary authority serving the people, communities and businesses of Leicester, the biggest city in the East Midlands, UK. They employ more than 15,000 people representing 22 wards in the city of Leicester. We spoke to their content manager, Matt Alexander, to discover the main areas of success they’ve had with GatherContent:

Streamlining content production using GatherContent

When Leicester City Council decided to redesign their website and rebuild it using an open source platform, they realised they needed someone to help with the switch from the old site to the new site and with the rationalisation of all the old content. Matthew Alexander joined the team as their Content Manager to help with just that.

Matt admits that managing a publishing community is a challenge. There needs to be somewhere to streamline the process and put structure in place in terms of how content is created on the page and managing the people responsible for that content. He used GatherContent at a previous company so brought it with him to Leicester City Council.

Centralising a devolved publishing model

Over the years the council had developed a devolved publishing model where permissions within the CMS were very liberally sprinkled across the organisation. There were around 600 editors and all were churning out content. It was decided early on in the project to ditch the devolved publishing model and move to a strictly managed and centralised publishing model. This eventually resulted in 600 editors being reduced to just 2.

“GatherContent was used to capture the people who would be working on new content and putting them into specific groups with a designated workflow and relevant permission levels.”

Matt had to manage this process yet he had no idea who all those editors were, what and how much content they were associated with and even if they still worked there. For him the best bit of GatherContent when embarking on the migration was to initially capture the people who would be working on new content and putting them into specific groups with a designated workflow and relevant permission levels.

“We had a two way dialogue in GatherContent throughout the whole editorial process. Collaborating in a shared space meant we could avoid Word docs with track changes and emails flying back and forth.”

Matt Alexander Content Manager

Collaboratively defining the website structure in GatherContent

It wasn’t just a case of taking existing content and migrating it to the new site. The information architecture, the structure of the site, wasn’t quite right either. GatherContent was used to help the team refine and agree the structure by allowing them to easily drag and tweak until they felt comfortable with the final hierarchy.

“GatherContent was used to help the team refine and agree the website structure by allowing them to easily drag and tweak until they felt comfortable with the final hierarchy.”

The information architecture decisions were also informed by key content owners. Matt carried out a requirements gathering exercise via workshops and spreadsheets to capture information from each department concerning their users, user needs and core customer requirements. This also helped to prioritise what content was worked on in the first phase. As a result of this process, the website was reduced from 10,000 pages to just 1000.

Saying goodbye to too many Word Docs, emails and headaches

Prior to GatherContent, if someone wanted to publish to the site they would send a massive Word document that was difficult to decipher and certainly not web friendly. This resulted in a lot of emails and a lot of headaches.

“Prior to GatherContent, if someone wanted to publish to the site they would send a massive Word document that was difficult to decipher.”

The audit process revealed that 90% of the content they decided they no longer needed was legacy content. It had been published some time in the past and was just left there, living on the site but no longer serving a purpose to either the Council or the users.

Governance of content takes time and effort so it became unmanageable and people were shelf stacking content. Now they manage a shared mailbox where all new content requests are sent and they are also rewriting all of their web guidance including how to get something published, using GatherContent.

“We decided to ditch the devolved publishing model and move to a strictly managed and centralised publishing model. GatherContent was imperative to us achieving that.”

Matt Alexander Content Manager

Using GatherContent to ensure content is consistent

The public Beta was launched in October 2014 and the final site went live in March 2015. 1400 pages now exist on the site and they continue to use GatherContent to plan, collaborate and produce this content.

“Post launch, the team continue to use GatherContent to plan, collaborate and produce their web content.”

There are several page templates setup for writers including a landing page and a standard content page which writers are assigned to. This helps retain consistency across the content being produced and published when the content creators come from various teams across the organisation.

By having a template for something like a venue address for example, they can ensure the correct layout and format for this information and opening times is captured. This is also complemented by a meta tab in GatherContent purely for technical considerations, bridging the gap between content, design and development.

About the Author

Marketing Manager, GatherContent

Becky is a Marketing Manager at GatherContent. She is a business studies graduate and has previously worked in digital marketing roles in both London and Aberdeen based agencies.

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