Two Project Managers Chat About Your Website’s Content

29 Mar 2017

Lisa Sandeford (PM): Hey, Carly! Let me know when you have a few minutes. I want to talk through something with you.

Carly Hohl (PM Director): Hey! What's up?

Lisa: It's come up again!

Carly: Dun dun dunnnn…!!!

Lisa: I have a project in which the client (understandably) underestimated the amount of time it would take to get us content for their new website—and it's going to delay their launch date.

Carly: The last time this came up in one of my projects, the client panicked when their content deadline was quickly approaching, and they ended up just re-using content from their old site on their new site. It ended up working out OK, but they missed a prime opportunity to put some real strategy behind the content on their fancy new website.

Lisa: I’ve seen that happen before, too.

Carly: We need to find an even better way to give our clients the tools they need to be successful with content delivery.

Lisa: Right. Because a website is really just a content-delivery tool.

Carly: At the beginning of each project, we talk with them about how time-intensive content creation is. But I think we need to do more.

Lisa: I see their perspective. They currently have a website that is populated with all sorts of content. But we're re-architecting the foundation of their site—of how they talk about themselves online—and that usually means new content is “must have,” not just a “nice to have.”

Carly: Exactly! So how do we set them up for success?

Lisa: Time … to … BRAINSTORM!

Carly: We already talk about content needs during the information architecture and design phases. What if we ask our clients to give us little snippets of real content to put into the wireframes and designs? That will get them thinking about it early and often.

Lisa: I like it!

Carly: That way, they also get a visual of how their real content will look on the new site.

Lisa: We've gotten rave reviews from clients on the “Writing for the Web Workshop” we deliver. Maybe during that training we should emphasize the size and scope of content creation.

Carly: I think that's a great idea. They'll be inspired during the workshop and motivated to go ahead and get started.

Lisa: Lately, we’ve been conducting comprehensive content audits for our clients. Doing that early in the project can be a real eye-opener. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fundamental to an organization’s understanding of how the world perceives them. Totally worth it.

Carly: Yes! I've seen awesome results with those as well. Perhaps for clients who don’t want to spend money on the audit now, we could offer an “audit template”—basically a spreadsheet with important considerations for each page.

Lisa: Right, sort of a “light” audit roadmap.

Carly: That way, when they go to create content for their new website, they have a crystal clear picture of what they have, what they don’t, and where the gaps are. Often, clients discover pages that they didn't even know they had!

Lisa: I actually have a basic working template: Content Matrix Template.

Carly: We need to continue to have honest and open conversations with our clients about the time commitment it takes to produce quality content. We need to explain that it will be so worth it when they see their amazing new site filled with compelling, concrete, and conversion-creating content.

Lisa: Nice alliteration! There are some great copywriting resources out there. GatherContent has a helpful bank of webinars available to the public for free, and I often share those with clients.

Carly: Look at that. A ten minute chat—and voila! We’ve helped defeat the ever-troubling Content Monster.

Lisa: Now, let’s talk about wireframes...