So, your organization decided to redesign its website to ensure your digital presence more accurately represents the impactful work you do. Great! You’ve officially made it through the discovery phase, where new ideas were brought to the table and a cohesive strategy was developed to guide the website redesign. During the information architecture phase, you narrowed in on your site’s overall structure and gained a firm grasp on how users will navigate through your new site.
Everyone is excited to finally enter the design phase of the project, but to keep things on track, you can’t forget the importance of your new website’s content! It’s really easy (and very common) for our clients to overlook this step in the redesign process and assume that the content on their old site will fit seamlessly into the new one. In reality, developing the content and sourcing images for your new site can be quite the undertaking.
Don’t worry—there are some key steps you can take to make this process run more smoothly. We’ve developed a brief guide based on our experience that’ll help you manage a successful content development and image selection process:
Step #1: Establish a Plan
Developing an organized and thoughtful plan for tackling your site’s content needs is critical to ensuring a smooth experience overall. So start this step early! It’s best to begin organizing and writing website content as soon as your site’s information architecture (a website’s content blueprint) is finalized. That way, you can start drafting content for the different pages of your site in advance, using the wireframes as a guide, and finalizing content once the design has been fully fleshed out.
Organize your content:
- Decide what content, if any, you will be carrying over from your old site. This might be less content than you initially expected一when the design of a site changes drastically, so too do the content needs. Once you’ve identified what will be carried over, determine what new content you’ll need to fill in the gaps. We recommend using a content matrix to identify and keep track of all the content you’ll need to enter into your content management system (CMS)一from headers to introduction text, body copy and even button text. A content matrix is basically just a fancy word for a spreadsheet that tracks and organizes the new content your site needs. And don’t worry, we put together a content matrix template that you can download here!
Organize your images:
- Don’t forget about images一they’re content too! The image selection process can take time, and some images might need to be cropped and treated. You can use the wireframes to identify where on the site you’ll need images, and come up with a plan to source them. Does your organization have a big library of photos? Will you need to source new images? There are many resources for free photos online (for example, Unsplash) and purchasing stock images is also an option. Again, we recommend using an image matrix to stay organized. You can download our image matrix template here.
Pick your people.
- You’ll need to determine who will be writing your content, who will be editing and reviewing your content, and who will be responsible for entering it into the CMS. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to develop engaging content and enter it into the CMS. Make sure you have plenty of people on the job!
Step #2: Start Executing
Once you have a solid plan laid out, it’s time to start actuallydeveloping, editing, and reviewing your content. Which, we know, can be a lot easier said than done. We recommend determining when your project is scheduled to begin Quality Assurance (QA)一the phase of the project when you’ll begin testing the site to get it ready for a successful launch一and then working backwards to create a content development schedule that hits this deadline.
- One of the most common reasons for delayed launches for our clients is that final content is not ready. Consider scheduling a weekly or bi-weekly meeting to assess how your content is developing and to stay on track.
Get Your Content Reviewed
- Don’t let stakeholder review creep up on you! Make sure whoever at your organization needs to approve your website content has ample time to review and make changes. This is why we suggest picking your people in Step #1一if everyone’s up to speed on who’s doing what and why, the review process can run a lot smoother.
Step #3: Enter Your Content & Images
Congratulations! You finally have your content drafted, approved, and ready to be entered into your new site’s CMS. At Constructive, we provide our clients with a full CMS training to help orient their team to the backend of their new site, and instruct them on how to add their new copy and images. If you don’t have access to training, or still need some support, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Use a text editor to strip content of formatting if you are copy/pasting from another source, such as your content matrix or a word document.
- While most content management systems like WordPress allow you to crop images within them, we generally find it’s more effective to crop images using tools like Sketch or Photoshop first, and then uploading the images into the CMS.
The website redesign process can be an exciting, yet somewhat intimidating time for organizations一especially if they’ve forgotten to prioritize their new site’s content! But by starting early and coming up with an organized plan to tackle your site’s content needs, the big task of developing content and entering it into the CMS can be much less daunting!