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How a digital agency consolidated 60 micro-sites into one website using GatherContent

by , Content Strategist, GatherContent

Gravitate is a digital marketing and design agency that provides result-driven strategies to expand your business and enhance your bottom line. Founded in 1999, they’ve worked with the likes of Visit Seattle, Skyhigh, Elite Care and Gigya. More recently they worked on a project for Campus Living Villages, using GatherContent to consolidate 60 micro-sites into one!

We spoke to Don Elliot, Director of Production who shared the main areas of success Gravitate have experienced by using GatherContent:

For over 15 years, Don has been trying to solve the problem of messy, disorganised, not-prioritised content.

Early in his career Don admits that people weren’t talking about content strategy. Don and his peers could build websites that functioned well and drive conversions, but they ran into bad content all the time. He confessed that people didn’t want to pay for copy so they wrote it themselves, having no idea how people read on the web which meant it was an afterthought

In an attempt to combat these content woes, Don and his team started creating Requirement Documents. These were Excel spreadsheets that broke down the content elements and their requirements, with a tab for every page.

‘We need a content collaboration platform’

This approach was very content-first. The struggle was that it worked well internally, but it was too abstract for clients. They couldn’t wrap their heads around it. They needed to see something. So they moved that into an internal process. Wireframes became the content discussion point.

This was a step forward but the team still wanted to improve the process, getting content requirements in front of clients before the wireframing began.

They tried to make a customised WordPress theme that would essentially do what GatherContent does. But it wasn’t working well. Then, one of the designers said ‘It would be great if there was a tool out there already that could do this.’ And Don said ‘There isn’t. Believe me, I’ve looked.’ The next day that designer came back and asked Don if he’d seen GatherContent. It was exactly what they were trying to build themselves.

“Because of GatherContent, we rarely have trouble getting content from clients on time now. To me, this is amazing. In 15+ years, that’s always been a problem (in fact, the main problem). All of a sudden, only 10% of our projects get delayed because of content. Before, it was 90%.”

Don Elliott Director of Production

Making content production easy for clients

Even though the team at Gravitate felt GatherContent answered their needs, it had to suit their clients too. Thankfully they found that GatherContent is something that non-technical clients can interact with. Content can be hard for clients to wrap their heads around and they’re intimidated by it, issues that Don was all too aware of when introducing something new to learn. Whatever they added to the process needed to make things more efficient, not slow projects down and cause additional stress. But Don told us that clients love the user interface of GatherContent because they don’t have to think so much. GatherContent makes content production easy.

Word and Google Docs don’t show the complete picture

Gravitate want their clients to hire them to write. They’re keen to sell them the value of having help with copy. With GatherContent, they have ‘shock value’. They found that Word and Google docs don’t give a concept of how much is being written, but with GatherContent, having a page list on the left and all the sub-pages visible, they found that clients suddenly go, ‘Whoa, this is a lot of work. Maybe we should have Gravitate help us.’”

“GatherContent provides a shock value. It makes clients realise how much content is needed and how much effort is required.”

They now have two full-time copywriters as a result of working with GatherContent…and they are confident that the quality of the content is better, even when the client writes it.

“Dynamic content, four-step approval process, 20 people, 600 pages…if it wasn’t for GatherContent, that project would have been a nightmare.”

Don Elliott Director of Production

Successful collaboration and happy clients

Don was able to share a success story with us that really puts their success with GatherContent into perspective. Gravitate worked with Campus Living Villages, consolidating 60 smaller sites, some with hundreds of pages, into one main website.

“GatherContent was used to consolidate 60 micro-sites, with hundreds of pages, into one website.”

The Content Strategists used GatherContent to build out templates and pages for the project. The templates are based on approved content strategy documents like Content Blueprint, Information Architecture, and Wireframes. They also put in notes with instructions for clients as well as additional tabs for Meta data. Once the pages were built, the client was granted access to GatherContent to start adding all of the content.

For the Campus Living Villages project, they had many sites so the team at Gravitate used the Template function and the Copy Project function more. The 60 individual sites were similar but because they are global brand with locations in Australia, UK, New Zealand and the USA, there were some differences in the structure.

Because they used GatherContent, the project was ‘a breeze’. They avoided having to organise all the content in Word docs and could collaborate easily, resulting in happy clients and happy team at Gravitate.

About the Author

Content Strategist, GatherContent

Rob is Content Strategist at GatherContent. He is a journalism graduate and has previously worked as Studio Manager and Head of Content for a design agency and as an Audience Research Executive for the BBC. He’s a published author and regular contributor to industry publications including Net Magazine, Smashing Magazine, 24 Ways, WebTuts+, UX Matters , UX Booth and Content Marketing Institute. On occasion Rob speaks about content strategy at leading industry events.

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