By: Kimberly McCormick- Bayshore Solutions Corporate Marketing Team
Earlier this month Bayshore Solutions launched our new Website. This was a big accomplishment because our internal teams have been working on this project for a long time, investing extra effort into developing the purpose, goals and strategy behind the website. The team also evaluated various drafts and iterations of structure, designs, functionalities, and numerous user-experience elements of the site – all before a single word was rendered on screen.
This initiative also gave me the unique opportunity to truly walk in the moccasins of our customers and experience exactly what a typical Marketing Director does when their website is being built or redesigned. I learned enough to write a book, but I’ll keep to the highlights for this blog.
After the designers and developers have worked their magic, you have a shiny, functional new website existing in a development or “Dev” location that is not yet live to the Internet public, but is ready for you to input all the content (words, pictures, logos, videos, SEO meta-data, links, etc.) via the Web Content Management System (CMS) interface to prepare your business website for its worldwide debut.
I often wondered why some clients experience delays in this space between “Built” and “Live” with their websites. I completely get it now. Although the mechanics of uploading content to a web page through a CMS are simple and quick, this assumes that every single content duck is aligned in their respective row, and all ready to fly on board. This is rarely a realistic assumption.
The phase of website content development, creation, revision and population can be a huge task, requiring intense organization, time and focus. You may need to source a team of specialists to assist in this, but if your position is the place in your company where the Web buck stops (including all corporate marketing, messaging, exposure and performance-results aspects of your website), you want to be hands-on in charge of this effort – and you need a strategic plan of attack to successfully manage your website content population.
Ideally you want to be doing your content development work in tandem with the design and development of your website, using your agreed-upon site navigation sections as a guide. but there will always be a phase of content input and refinement in that space between “Built” and “Live”. The key is to minimize this time in order to get your website live and producing results for your business.
I’ve heard the comment, and I can somewhat agree, that starting a brand new website from scratch is an easier content population task than transferring over and sifting through the page by page evaluation and refinement needed with redesigns of legacy websites. But the strategic principles are the same. The biggest tip I would offer to make a website sub-project of content population easier is this:
(If you would like to read my entire “book” on lessons learned and tips for a smooth content population project, see the full article here.)
Start by Organizing a “Website Content Map and Task Sheet”
I found Microsoft Excel to be my best friend for this part of the project. I started with a download of the site map of every page on my “old site”, each website page on its own row with the plain-English name and URL address listed in the first 2 columns. Then using the new website’s navigation structure as my guide, I identified what all the new website pages would be, mapped old site pages to their corresponding new site pages and inserted extra rows as needed in between to create a spreadsheet representation of each page on the new site.
This served as a handy and exhaustive list for all the URL redirects that would be needed to transition the old site to the new one. There were 445 rows in my website content map and every page needed for the new live site was accounted for. (I was not kidding that content population done right can be a huge undertaking.)
Next, add columns for each element or data-point you will need relating to each page. I included things like:
- New site URL for this page
- Targeted SEO keywords
- Meta Tags & Data
- Type of Web page design format (Subpage, Newsletter page, Thank You page)
- Visibility in navigation & navigation level (Primary thru 4th level) in the new site
- If there is a form on the page and if it is a goal page for analytics
- Checklist of content tasks for the page including:
- Who is assigned
- Main content input
- Content Styling checked
- Links checked
- Forms input and Checked
- Sidebars input and Checked
- Analytics goals set up and any needed code inserted
What you end up with is a complete map and task check-off list that will serve as “Mission Control” for you and your team throughout your content development and population project.
For the rest of my “book” on this experience, see the article, Tips for Smooth Website Content Development & Content Population here, on Bayshore Solutions’ newly re-engineered and redesigned website.