Machines have engines and engines consume fuel, and we like to think of content as the fuel that keeps your engine running smoothly. Content strategy is an enormous, sprawling portion of the website redevelopment project.
The content developer(s) and the website developer work together during this stage, as the design of the site will help inform some of the elements of content — such as word counts and calls to action. Likewise, the content also helps inform the site design to a degree (more on that a bit later).
Templates Part 1
Once the website design has been developed and approved by the client, then the skeleton of the site is built, which includes templates for each set of common pages. Those templates are then used to build out the full set of website pages. Building out the number of pages on a site is a tactical effort. Part of it is repetition, but repetition with complexities.
We’re not just adding pages because good websites should have a lot of pages. Every single page needs to have a strategic purpose — which we have outlined during Discovery. Each page will have various elements included on the templates, dependent on that page’s purpose. Is this a lead generating page? If so, it will include some method of data collection. Is this a path-to-purchase page? If so, it will include explicit and implicit direction toward purchasing.
Each page also needs to have thought-out, well-written content. Whether people realize it or not, one of the top reasons for a website redesign is that the content is no longer performing as it should — resulting in the site not attracting and/or converting new prospects.
If your website wasn’t performing well before, why would it do better just because you now have a prettier page with updated graphics and fonts? We love to use the expression, “That’s like putting lipstick on a pig.” (In fact, we say it so much we’re thinking of having a painting of a lipsticked pig commissioned to hang in our office.)
Templates Part II
During the first content meeting with HydroComp, we informed them that we would be building custom content templates for this project. These templates would guide the development of new content, not only by page, but by specific section on the page. They’re very detailed.
There was a great deal of content on the existing site, which meant there was a lot to go through to see what could be utilized for new content.
The first step was looking at all of the existing content assets and “sweeping them into piles.” The first set of piles were labeled green, yellow and red. Green pieces of content likely had some value that could lifted and used for the new site. Yellow was a maybe pile, as these were articles HyrdoComp was mentioned in as well as press releases that may or may not have outdated information. The red pile we were fairly certain would not contain information moving to the new site.
We approach it like this: if you’re going to really clean a closet, the best thing to do is to take everything out and start sorting it out before putting it back in. And, if Marie Kondo has her way, you’re going to have piles for “garbage” and to “donate.” It’s not all going back into the closet. Same with the content from your old website.
For example, there were several blog posts about coaching lacrosse. It most likely made sense for the company at the time those were written and posted, but in the direction we were moving, they were no longer relevant, so into the red pile they went. They were not going to help us move toward our goals.
For this exercise, there may be phrases or sentences, or possibly even entire paragraphs from the existing content that can be integrated into the new content. Once we went through all the assets, we presented our opinions to HydroComp and had them double-check to be sure we hadn’t tossed anything important. One reason we developed custom content templates for this project is because we need the HydroComp team to do some of the heavy lifting of developing the initial content.
The content templates provided specific sections and word counts as well as direction on the type of information we thought would work best for each site page. HydroComp is currently writing a draft of each page of the site. They are the experts in their field, so it makes sense for them to write the first draft, as it’s going to contain accurate, pertinent information.
We anticipate the existing culled content from an existing website will make up about 20% of the new site’s content, unless that site has recently been rewritten or optimized (the key word is recently). Once HydroComp submits their drafts, we will massage, edit and rewrite as necessary to conform to web best practices and to suit the new site’s pages. The site will launch with some solid, optimized content.
Having a well-developed, thought-out website is table stakes for a marketing program that is going to have an impact on your bottom line. HydroComp’s goal is to increase revenue, and having a content-rich site to build on is going to be a solid start in that direction.