Content is everything you publish on your website. Put simply it is images, video, copy and other data that combine to create meaning. The meaning you create is important, because it defines the message you give to your audience – it defines your brand.
Content strategy is the practice of organising the production and delivery of content. It gives you editorial oversight and repeatable processes with the aim of creating the unambiguous message your audience desires.
Good content strategy should mitigate delays to your project launch date, enable smart, content-focussed design decisions and help you sustain your site in the long term.
So how can we help?
We always put content first
Content is the thread that runs through your project from the very beginning and keeps running after launch. It’s vital, therefore, to consider content from the outset, and it’s one of our key discussion points at any kickoff meeting. We’ll ask the right questions of you the help define a content strategy that works for your organisation.
Here are some typical questions that can get the ball rolling:
- How much content is on your current site and is a content audit planned?
- How much out of date or substandard content is there and who is responsible for (re)writing any new content?
- Who has ultimate responsibility for the quality of all content now and after launch?
- Who are your subject matter experts?
- Are there any key search terms we need to focus on to drive traffic?
Answering or committing to answer these questions early on helps avoid bottlenecks further down the line.
The audit process
Even if your current site is way, way out of date, it’s always helpful to carry out an audit – the purpose being to gain insights that help us rebuild your content in a meaningful and useful way.
- Can we index the different types of content and determine their relevance for the new site?
- Is the content good (up to date, detailed, portable) or does it need a lot of work?
- Will a significantly different navigation need to be implemented?
- Have you maintained your content efficiently in the past?
- What can analytics tell us about your content’s engagement value?
Audits can also take in competitor analysis:
- What are your competitors doing well? What are they doing badly?
- Do you (and should you) share any content-patterns with your competition?
- What mediums do they use (video, maps, long-form or short-form copy)?
- How does their content differentiate them or define their brand?
- Should you follow a general industry curve, or define your own path?
When making a big change to your website it is important to engage the people who use your website regularly. This research allows us to validate our initial assumptions and uncover new requirements from your users. We conduct interviews with users of your website to determine what is important for them. These can be conducted over video-calls or in-person depending on your requirements.
A card sort is also a great way to gain insights from users about how to organise content in an intuitive way. Users are asked to organise information into categories and label each group. We analyse the similarities between each sort to help us inform a new content structure.
Proto-content and the design phase
Unless we have real(ish) content to design with, our prototypes won’t be effectively tested until we’re approaching launch, which is too late. So we design with proto-content.
Proto-content doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be representative of final content. For each design we ask: what is the typical case for content in this scenario and what is the edge case (the 15 word headline; the image that loses meaning when cropped; the 500 word article with no picture).
A good analogy might be a tailor asking how tall, short, big or small the wearer of a new range of suits might be, and developing their patterns accordingly – the content drives the design.
Creating a content production plan and platform
The process below is a typical content production plan, and details a number of roles that need filling to create efficiency, quality, consistency and accuracy.
- Research (writer/planner)
- Produce (writer, photographer, videographer, illustrator)
- Review (editor and subject-expert)
- Revise (as step 2)
- Approve (as step 3)
- Upload to content management system (CMS editor)
- Review in-situ and sign off (ultimate content owner)
- Publish (ultimate content owner/CMS editor)
We’ll help you develop a plan like this for every aspect of your content and should be able to estimate the amount of effort required from you, as well as the overall expected timescale.
For stages 2-5 (production to pre-CMS approval) we regularly recommend GatherContent – a platform designed specifically for planning, organising and producing web content. We can easily configure it to your precise requirements and it has review and approval workflow built in.
The case for investing in content strategy
Once you’ve decided to commission a new website it may be tempting to push through to the design phase as quickly as possible (everyone loves the design phase) but the case for giving content strategy its due attention is persuasive.
- Keep to deadlines and meet your desired launch date
- Deliver a great user experience through useful, meaningful content
- Build a website that you can maintain in the long term
- Make smart decisions early on for better end results
We’ll support you every step of the way (your success is our success, too) and we’re sure your audience will appreciate the effort.