Content is Queen: Strategies for Creating Compelling Website Content
As the senior project manager here at Executionists, I’ve held many clients’ proverbial hands through the web development process. We, the web designers and developers, are thoroughly linear in our thinking: here’s our process, here’s what we need, when we need it, thank you very much. However, I’ve found over the years that clients can feel emotionally overwhelmed with the process and they are not always as ready as they thought they’d be with the written content they need to populate their new website.
There are several client-side issues that can threaten to slow our website execution train:
-Dysfunctional or slow client decision-making
-Lack of tech savvy
-Slow production of website content
This article will address this third point – content creation. If you don’t know what to write, perhaps it’s because your branding and new direction is unclear. Or perhaps your organization has legal compliance issues and/or many layers of management required to approve every word and punctuation. Perhaps you are having bad flashbacks of that college 5,000-word research paper after avoiding it for the last month you knew it was due.
Here are your options:
Hire Someone To Write It For You
If you can’t write it yourself or in-house, hire a professional writer! There are plenty of them out there who will do a great job. We know several that we can refer and there are services such as Writer Access, Elance, TaskRabbit, and more. But, don’t think you can just hire a writer and enjoy cocktails. You will still need to collaborate with the writer, provide the basic facts, branding direction, tone, review, edit, and approve their work.
Write It Yourself
Chances are, you only need to edit and add to copy that already exists somewhere. Find the best writer in your organization or in-house team and let them be the lead writer. Work backwards from the date we give you for content population. Figure out what you need to do and work on it every day or every week until complete. If you need time for an internal review process with management, then bake that into your timeline. Get ahead of the game. We don’t want to have launch delayed because of missing content, nor do you want to launch a site with “Coming Soon” posted all over the place.
Don’t Be A Perfectionist
99.9% of our projects these days involve websites built using a CMS (Content Management System) framework such as WordPress. You will be able to edit, revise, and refine this text as often as you like post-launch. Not only can you, but you should! You can take advantage of the digital medium to iterate and enhance with more details as you learn more about what your clients and customers are into. Chances are we’ve provided you with a blog or news section. Use it! Write new content several times a week. Comment on industry-specific news. Your articles don’t have to be long, just relevant (and hopefully, well written and interesting).
Content = SEO
Keep in mind that the more relevant content on your site, the better for SEO too. We provide SEO plugins to empower you to add metadata to each page, article, and post. Use them.
How to Use Executionists Efficiently To Save $ Money
- Be willing to learn how to use the CMS provided in your website so that you can edit your content yourself.
- If you send us “final content” but then later ask us to make a bunch of edits, this will use up billable time. (see previous point)
- Make sure your images are saved at 72 dpi resolution and give them logical filenames before you share them with us.
- Save your text files with logical names (ex.: “Joe_Smith_bio_final.txt”) so it’s easier to figure out what’s what.
- Use our online file sharing system. We use Box.com for file sharing and it’s blissfully easy and user-friendly. Sending a bunch of emails back and forth is a recipe for missing a revision or a file.
- Plan ahead. If you are writing content that will need extensive design and formatting, allow time and budget for that. Tables and graphics add cost and time. Don’t deliver final content with tables and charts the week we planned to launch!
Content is queen, so don’t leave it till the last minute. If you don’t know where to start, let us know so we can help strategize the best content solution for your website needs.
Author: Rachel Panush