Getting good quality content planned, produced and published is hard and whilst every project is different, the same basic challenges crop up again and again.
To overcome these challenges you need a content delivery plan. This helps you to establish a fluid workflow around the creation and management of your website’s content.
In this article we’ll cover why you need to collaborate with your clients to ensure content is delivered on time. (Psst: It’s better for them, their customers and your business.) Let’s delve a little deeper and make the case for investing in content from the get-go.
There’s no need for content to be painful
If you’ve worked on a website project before then chances are you’ve experienced one or more of these less-than-ideal scenarios:
- Projects are delayed
- Budgets swell
- Stress levels increase
- Motivation plummets
- Client relationships become strained
Nobody wants to experience those nightmares and the knock-on effects they have on other projects and morale. Unfortunately those pains can be expected if you don’t put content first and work with clients to:
- Assemble a content delivery team
- Define a content delivery workflow
- Plan and prioritise content
The real problem is that content can be seen as an unnecessary expense and it is the first item to be scratched from the scope when budgets are being discussed, challenged and agreed. The irony of this is that investing in content up-front can actually mean saving money in the long-term.
Let’s look at each of these in more detail and explore why they are important and the transformation agencies and businesses can experience from putting the above into place.
Assemble a content delivery team
Assembling a content team can be met with resistance as it is usually associated with additional resource, i.e. money. Whilst this can be true, the benefits to the projects, and therefore the business, can mean saving time and money in the long run.
There is no one size fits all team when it comes to delivery content but typical roles can include:
- Content Strategist
- Subject Matter Experts
- Content Design
- UX Specialist
The semantics of job titles is less important here as this is trumped by the importance of having dedicated resource for each task that needs to be completed to get content done. Whilst this does usually require more investment upfront to assemble the content delivery team, the business will experience benefits because there will be clear roles and responsibilities, with added accountability.
One person may take on several roles or you may need to crew-up for certain projects but the key here is not to shoe-horn content tasks into other people’s responsibilities because content won’t be seen as a priority. It deserves more attention if you’re to ensure the team understands and is capable of delivering what is needed and by when.
A content delivery team working around shared goals and understandings means that the content produced is better in terms of quality, purpose and usefulness. There is dedicated resource so the investment upfront saves hassle and time once the project is underway and it becomes clear that nobody is responsible for different content related tasks and that results in difficult conversations as delays are explained, more money is requested and project launch dates fade into oblivion!
Ok that’s a bit dramatic but the point is that whilst bringing people on can seem like an unnecessary cost at the time, there are savings to be had and better content as a result of getting the right people in place.
Define a content delivery workflow
Hand-in-hand with people, is process. Enter the content delivery workflow. Without a clear process for getting content done, it will hit bottlenecks and will be stuck in limbo which impacts on the entire project schedule (and team morale!).
As with teams, there’s no one size fits all process but some typical stages of a workflow for website projects are:
- Upload to CMS
Whatever the stages that you decide upon, it’s key to make the content delivery team aware of what stage they are responsible for and when. Effective dissemination of the workflow is a must for managing client expectations. Defining a process for delivering content allows agencies to work with their clients to produce content.
By having a clear process that everyone understands, you are able to identify the bottlenecks within the workflow. This isn’t a blame game (geez, John, why haven’t you reviewed the content yet!) but it allows teams to resolve the bottlenecks and keep content moving. That is beneficial to the business because projects stay on schedule and clients are aware of how things will get done.
It’s that organised and structured approach to projects (and content), layered with effective communication, that can help agencies stand out from the crowd and earn a reputation as experts who understand the importance of content in relation to customer needs and business goals.
Plan and prioritise content
The effort required to deliver content is often underestimated both in terms of time and resource (which also means money).
If you plan content upfront by creating an inventory and conducting an audit, you will get a sense of what content exists and what needs to be created, repurposed or archived. A list of content to be created can look pretty easy as there’s no sense of the effort needed attached to the list.
As an example of how long content can take, in our Content Strategy Masterclass we ask attendees to estimate the time it takes to perform each stage in a typical content delivery workflow for a guidance webpage about student visas. Over the years we have run the class, the mean average for delivering one page of content is 15 hours.
Scale that up to an entire website and you can start to see how much time is needed. Lots. Possibly more than has been allocated for on the project timeline and for the agreed budget.
Rather than find yourselves in the position where you have to ask clients for more money, or you end up doing lots of work for free (neither scenario is ideal for an agency to be faced with), planning content upfront will save these awkwards conversations and possible project delays.
If you do realise that what you need to do doesn’t align with the agreed scope/budget/timescales/resource, prioritising content will allow you to publish content in phases and stages based on agreed priorities. As we’ve already covered, the more planning and preparation you do upfront, the smoother the process and outcome that follows.
Take action with these next steps
If you don’t already have a process and team in place for delivering content, this is an opportunity to offer a new service to clients and it’s a chance to work better with clients on content that could have a positive impact on relationships, reputation and the bottom-line. Make content-first thinking the way you work, and don’t add content deliverables as optional line-items that will be rejected by your clients so they can get to the visuals quickly.
As you approach your next website project, ask yourselves (and your clients) if you have the following in place to successfully deliver content:
- 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 the new website is going to meet
- A list of sitemap of the content items you expect to deliver on the 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
Keen to learn more?
If there are any items in the above list not ticked off, check out our free book, Content Delivery: Deliver high quality website content, on time and in budget, for practical advice, techniques and know-how to deliver content on time.