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Managing the Content Development Process During a Website Redesign

During a website redesign, there are many moving parts in each phase of the project. At Constructive, we take our clients through an investigative discovery process while our UX researchers conduct user testing and comparative analysis. We’ll iterate on rounds and rounds of UX wireframes and design comps. Once the information architecture and design are approved, it’s off to the races with implementing the CMS—then suddenly it’s time for content entry. At this moment, if this is the first mention of content needs, clients often start having panic attacks.

Without careful planning for content, you could easily find yourself two weeks from launch realizing that some of your content needs to be reorganized to fit the new site, some pieces of content need to be revised, and some copy needs to be newly drafted. Your content needs to be created, migrated, and entered, and by putting it off, many clients risk pushing their timelines out and blowing up their budget.

At Constructive, we get our clients thinking about content from the beginning. It’s the only way to avoid pre-launch anxiety attacks. We’ll get started with a content analysis during the initial discovery phase. During UX, we help set up a process for gathering content, taking into account factors such as multiple content editors with a tedious review process from a board, legal review, or other situations. Setting up a project plan to get all content written, reviewed, and approved in time for when content entry is set to begin is the critical piece for a successful project that runs on time and on budget.

Useful Tools

If your site is content heavy, or if you plan to write a large amount of new content for the redesigned site, one tool that may be helpful is GatherContent. GatherContent allows you to manage content production for the whole team, with customizable approval workflows that let you to assign tasks and reviews to teammates. GatherContent lets you create structured templates so your authors can easily understand what sections they need to populate. You can even export your content directly to your CMS via their API.

Some of our clients don’t need something quite as robust as GatherContent. We exclusively work with nonprofits and higher education institutions, so the client may not have the budget for such a service. As an alternative, we’ll often develop a content matrix to help serve our clients’ needs. In an Excel document or Google Sheet, fields are created for every possible place on the new website that will need to be filled with content. Titles, subheads, teaser texts, body paragraphs—nothing is forgotten. Each section is clearly marked so that the team is all on the same page with who is responsible for which section.

Our content matrix can also be used as an effective workflow tool, keeping a status of what will be migrated from the old site, what needs to be developed, who will write each piece of new copy, and what the deadline is for each stage of the content development process. You’ll be able to keep track of what piece of content needs review, when it has been approved, and when it’s ready for entry. Once the CMS is built and it’s time for content migration and entry, the matrix can also be used as a way to check off what has been entered into the new site.

As a bonus, we include a second tab in the matrix for image selection. Like content, images are critical to the success of a website. (If you’re looking for help on how to select meaningful website images, check out our insight here.) Using the image inventory tab in our content matrix, our clients can keep track of which images will be moved to the new site, what images are needed, various options for images, and any pricing or terms for selected images. Similarly to the content side of this matrix, we can help our clients index all images that will be used for homepage carousels, header images, headshots of staff members, and more.

If your site is content-heavy, or if you plan to write a large amount of new content for the redesigned site, the task of content migration and entry can be extremely daunting for you and your team members. Don’t let content be the forgotten component of the website redesign process! By having a schedule and process for content development in place, it can be manageable and doable even in the tightest of timelines. Download our sample content matrix to get an idea of how this all works. Feel free to download this matrix and format it for your site and see how it helps your team stay organized!

If you have questions about how to manage the content process for a content-heavy website, get in touch!

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