Start content work ASAP to launch a better site.

You can't actually use a typewriter to update web content.

Don’t wait. Confront the scary stuff now.

Many times web projects progress in a linear way from discovery to launch with the team waiting for each step to be completed before the next begins. This can feel comforting when you view it as a neat and tidy timeline. But the ugly reality is that at some point in the content review and revision process you are going to find weird stuff. Stuff you forgot existed and didn’t plan for. Stuff that needs custom design work and fancy data integrations. Or something like that. If you find it while design is still going on, it won’t be a big deal. But if you find it when design and development have been checked off the list it will feel like trying to put a freight train in reverse with your bare hands.

Rethink your process.

Content review and revision typically end up following design in a website redesign project. But, what if it immediately followed discovery? What I’m advocating is an ongoing content process that runs alongside all the other phases of the project, for nearly the entire duration. Sound crazy? Let me paint a clearer picture.

Imagine you spent three or four weeks of your timeline in discovery. This means you figured out the scope of the project, identified all the main players and informed them of what is going on. You have a pretty good idea of what your goals are, what integrations you need and maybe even new creative projects that need to get going. At this point, it’s tempting to launch right into design. But, we’re going to pause for a second and do these steps instead.

How to build a rockstar content team - and process.

  1. Get all your content owners together. Everyone who will need to edit, migrate, or otherwise own words, images or video on the new site.
  2. Make an inventory of all your content - start with what you have and use analytics and discovery goals to pare down as much as you can.
  3. Appoint a content owner who is going to reorganize the content into the new site navigation. If this can be an external partner, it might be easier to settle disagreements. You know, that whole bad cop thing…)
  4. Assign your new content inventory to content owners and begin work reviewing and revising. This is the part of the process that could result in surprises, so try to kick it off concurrently with the design process.
  5. Build your project timeline to include check-ins between content and design teams so there is solid communication that can reduce surprises and omissions later.

Don’t forget to prioritize.

The last bit is to make sure you have a single person in charge of gathering new requests and prioritizing them so you end up with the right website features. Otherwise, you might end up with a set of amazing (but unnecessary) features or a big mess because every content owner asked for their own priorities and the dev team didn’t know what to do first.

If you move content up in the project timeline, you’ll see some amazing benefits. You’ll tackle hard problems sooner, truly prioritize the right features and end up with more time to migrate and proof your content prior to site launch. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes!