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How the University of York use GatherContent to produce content for an in-house redesign

by , Content Strategist, GatherContent

The University of York is a research-intensive university located in the city of York and founded in 1963. They have 16,000 students, 3500 staff and an impressive 800 users of their Content Management System.

GatherContent was introduced to the university to help tame this process, by Dan Wiggle, the digital communications manager. Dan highlighted these areas of success with GatherContent:

As you’d expect from a university, they have a complex dissemination of people, and that results in a complex process for content planning, production and management.

Dan sits within the strategic marketing and digital communications team. There are also 5 others in this team who are responsible for the front end design and development of the website, image management, social media and content production. Just as importantly, they also provide platform and best practice guidelines across the University.

Managing all content production using GatherContent

In late 2014 the University began a significant redevelopment of its web pages, in particular those about research and studying at York. This included building their first responsive designs and producing new or rewritten content for hundreds of pages. The project allowed them to have their first big engagement with GatherContent.

“A redevelopment of their website allowed the University to have their first big engagement with GatherContent.”

As part of the project they managed all content production in GatherContent. They had experienced issues with content production in their CMS so decided to decouple the two. The CMS didn’t meet their needs in terms of workflow and editing and many people who had to be involved in the content production for the new site weren’t editors within the CMS.

“GatherContent is really helpful because it has a very low learning curve. We can confidently share access with departments and get them onboard and working on their content quickly and easily.”

Dan Wiggle Digital Communications Manager

GatherContent helps authors deliver content in the right format and on time

On the research area of the site they identified all of the existing pages that they knew needed to be rewritten. Then Dan put the structure for the pages into GatherContent and copy and pasted all old content into the related pages.

In addition to this there was also a lot of new content to be written. This was assigned to a research content writer that wasn’t a digital editor and that didn’t have much digital experience. So they weren’t familiar with how it would be structured in the CMS or what it would look like design wise, when published.

“Tips were added to GatherContent to help authors deliver what was needed, in the format it was needed and by an agreed deadline.”

To help them, Dan added a lot of help text to guide the authors on what was needed. Tips included word counts and image sizes. With many people adding content to GatherContent at any given time, Dan was responsible for overseeing all activity. He was able to check all pages and see where they were in the colour coded workflow.

The workflow in GatherContent then allows all people to comment directly in GatherContent, thus managing the process during any back and forth stages. Once the agency and university department collaboration is complete, Dan’s team checks all content, signs it off and migrates it into the CMS.

“GatherContent helped us capture content in structured chunks that were web ready, thus speeding up the overall production process.”

Dan Wiggle Digital Communications Manager

Successful collaboration thanks to GatherContent

Whilst Dan and his team admit there is a long way to go getting all of their content planned, produced and published with such efficiency, using GatherContent allowed them to collaborate easily in the face of a very tight deadline for their internal redesign. Organisation and communication of all content from across the University was key to the success of the project and GatherContent was an integral part of that too.

Since the redesign the University of York have continued to GatherContent for all their centrally-managed content production. It’s now a standard part of their process for any content work coming through the digital communications team.

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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