Working with many non-profits who are looking to redesign their websites, I’ve learned how frightening (read: overwhelming, daunting, discouraging) content planning can be. Even when you have a solid new architecture prepared for your site, there’s still the process of identifying:
- What archived content do we need to keep on the new site?
- Who’s going to write all of this new content we have planned?
- How much of this content can I create, realistically, before my site launches?
I posted a few months ago about creating a content strategy, which can help to guide and focus this process but I think most people are confused about where to even begin.
Here’s a good tip – start early. “Early” as in before you even start the redesign process. The good news is that you probably already have a website, so you’re not starting from scratch. Sure, you may want your new site to look COMPLETELY different, but you still likely have language you can use describing your mission, press releases you can use and other content areas you can leverage. That’s why you should start with a content inventory. By reviewing everything you have on your site, you can get a sense of where you’re starting from and also how much you need to do.
If you don’t have a content inventory that you diligently keep up to date (what? you don’t?), there are some tools out there you can use to “crawl” your site to give you a solid list to use. GSiteCrawler is one that we use frequently.
Once you have your inventory, add in a column and start prioritizing content. Anything you know you don’t want on the new site, go ahead and remove. Then, categorize this way:
- content that MUST be on the new site
- content that should probably be there, but isn’t extremely high-priority
- content that would be nice to have
Then, move the “2” and “3” items into a separate spreadsheet and only focus on your “1” items to see what needs to be finessed, rewritten or overhauled. Starting this process early and with a focused method such as this one will make your content creation much less painful.
Do you have any techniques for content planning that have worked well or other resources to share? What about other questions about content planning? Share with us in the comments!