Are you ready to start your new website? Whether you’re starting from scratch with a brand-new website, or you need to overhaul your current site – I’m sure you’re probably rarin’ to go and chomping at the bit.
But before you can get your new vision out into the world, there is an important question to ask. It’s one of the first questions we always ask in a website project kick-off meeting.
“Is your content ready?”
This question seems to always stump most clients and can be a huge bottleneck in the process. But it doesn’t have to be.
Content is undoubtedly the most neglected part of most websites; even though content is the most important part. Sadly, most businesses are guilty of this, probably yours as well, but it’s not your fault, and you just need to know how to get started.
Heroes are Always Prepared
The time you’ll spend preparing for the handoff will save time and money (the hero part).
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ― Abraham Lincoln
A Hero’s Guide to Preparing Your Content For an Awesome Website
By following this Guide and using the handy Content Hero’s Checklist, you will be much more prepared to hand over your content assets and plan to your web team to edit, rewrite and fill those holes that need filling.
Plus, as a bonus, you will also make your web team happier and more efficient!
What are the business goals and objectives of your website?
Whatever your business model, your website should drive your business forward, so plan your content accordingly. Do you need ten leads per month? Would you like to increase traffic by 50%? Want your new e-book downloaded 500 times this year? Whatever drives your business goals, every piece of content you produce needs to support your goals.
Who is your content for? Who is your target audience?
- User/Visitor Personas: Pain points, challenges, goals, passions
- Demographics: Age, job position, income, education
- Psychographics: Introspective, intellectual, entrepreneurial
What are the goals and objectives of your target audience?
Your content needs to guide your users so they can easily reach their goals. From their perspective, what are the goals to accomplish? What questions are they trying to get answered? Some common examples are:
- Make a purchase, download a brochure, or just gather pricing
- Compare your products/services to your competitors
What actions do you want users to take?
This brings together your business goals with your audience’s desires and sets them into action. This is often overlooked by clients, but key when capturing leads and making sales. Some common examples are:
- Purchase your starter package or sign up for a free trial
- Schedule a free consultation or request a free sample
- Sign up for your webinar or email list
Earn Superhero Bonus Points
This is not really about content preparation, but will help tremendously when planning your website.
Also, determine what functionality your users need to help them reach their goals. This could be as simple as a contact form that sends an email, or as complex as a robust shopping cart, extensive database features, inventory control and a plethora of “user experience” features. Your web UI/UX designer (that’s us!) will work with you to determine those attributes. Often, we get involved with a business’s operations to map out how the site will effect all aspects a company’s business, including account, inventory control, shipping and returns.
What is the tone and voice of the content?
Based on your target audience and your company’s culture, is the content formal in tone or humorous? Is it highly scientific and technical, or hard-hitting marketing and sales-driven, or does it walk the user through a storytelling style? Is the voice in first person or third person? Keeping the tone and voice of the content consistent builds a quality brand experience for the user.
Do you have a content inventory?
Meet with your team to address the following questions to get a handle on your content inventory.
- What content is ready to go? Is it web friendly?
- What content is OK but needs more rewriting or editing?
- What content are you missing?
- What content will require design, e.g. Infographics, graphics, interactivity, tabs, rollover effects. Make sure your developers know what your expectations are.
- What content needs supporting imagery? Such as photography, illustrations, graphics, videos, downloadable/printable documents.
- Do you need bios, project and/or product descriptions?
- Do you have content that needs tabulations, charts and how-tos?
What pages do you need?
Prepare a list of all the pages you need based on your own knowledge of your content inventory, including what items that might be missing. This outline will help the designer with basic information to begin creating the sitemap. Your web design firm will love you for taking the initiative to start a basic list of pages, as they begin to define the scope of the project.
A robust sitemap, the kind your design firm will create, is an arrangement of your website pages organized and structured according to your goals, as well as your audience’s needs and expectations. It should be created by someone experienced in information architecture, user-experience design and search-engine optimization. That is usually one of the very first deliverables that must be approved before the project moves forward.
What pages are absolutely crucial for the initial website launch?
Sometimes, when time is short and you want your website launched as soon as possible, you can take a minimalist approach to your content plan. That way, you can launch the site more quickly. Determine the minimum content pieces you need to achieve your top objectives. This approach will ensure your new website has everything it needs to start driving leads as soon as it launches.
Do you have a Content Production Plan for final content?
If you are providing final content that only needs professional editing, who does what and by when? Match up your content plan with the people responsible and create a workflow that includes first drafts, revision cycles and final sign-offs by responsible parties. Make sure milestones and deadlines are clearly defined and based on having everything ready before the start of the design phase.
Who is responsible for your website content? Who is the Content Manager?
Designate one person who is responsible for gathering and managing all website content for your business. One person at your company needs to be accountable to ensure all content is ready before its handed off to the developer. This individual will coordinate and work with other supporting team members, like subject-matter experts, writers, editors, designers, proofreaders and others who will help with producing your website content.
Your web design firm will have an individual who takes on this role too. You’ll work closely with the developer to discuss how the content translates into a visual language for users to quickly grasp your message.
Get Ready for Stardom
Now that you’ve planned and prepped, poked and prodded, asked and answered, you can take a deep breath and relax a little. After you enjoy a refreshing beverage, be sure to gather all your content, photos, lists, plans, schedules and of course your completed checklist, and package it up nicely for your web design team, and be ready to get showered with compliments. You’ll be the content hero!
Get the Handy Content Hero’s Checklist
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