7 Ways To Prevent Content Gathering From Holding Up Your Website Project
Gather content for your web project. Should be easy, right? A few years ago when running web projects, I constantly found myself pushing clients much too hard to get their website content out of them.
I was finding that about half our projects were stalling at some point because we didn’t have enough content ready to go. We could stall right at the start even before design if we had zero content collected, or we would stall before go-live if we didn’t have finalised sub-page content.
As the project manager on content-stalled projects, I would start out with a few friendly reminders. These would be closely followed by the nagging wife approach. Pretty soon I would get to the stage where I wanted to chase after clients with a big stick.. but that didn’t fit so well with company policy (or human rights laws), so all I could do was schedule regular catchups to talk about progress and try to keep things moving.
A wise employer once taught me that when a web project has an issue, like stalling due to lack of progress on content, it’s not the time to blame the client. As a website making company, taking the client through the process of website creation, it was our responsibility to improve our processes to prevent these issues from happening again in future projects. Clever huh.
Most of the time the issues that clients have around creating content are not knowing how a web project works, not knowing what they should be writing on their website, and not having enough time to write the content. Here’s a few things which combat these issues and have helped me to gather content on time which keeps web projects humming along smoothly.
“Let’s get the website up and running, then I’ll fill it with content..”
Educate your clients
If you make websites all the time, then it’s your job to guide your clients along the way. Steer them around the potholes. Assume they don’t know what you haven’t yet told them about making websites. Add a chat about website content into your website planning process. Within your first few meetings making sure that all the stakeholders have discussed how the website content will be created, who will be doing it, and the importance of having to gather content sooner rather than later.
So what can you say to explain to project stakeholders about why you need content created early?
- It saves the client time and money by keeping the project on budget. Lack of content is well-known for holding up web projects, so plan early to stay on top of it.
- It means the Design stage can give messaging the right context. A designer working with large amounts of filler text is going to have a tough time giving the right priority and placement to the content that will be created one-day-in-the-future.
- It keeps the focus on the website users, all the way through the web project. If you’ve got good content, then making a website look good and feel good is all to support that. People visit websites primarily for their content, not for their pretty colours.
“..what should my website say?”
What is the point?
Revisit the business purpose of the website. Is it to generate contact form leads, have customers checkout, get email subscribers, engage readers? All of the content should support the main business purpose.
View best practice examples
If you can point your client in the direction of best-of-breed websites, this can help to get the ball rolling. Remember to look outside their industry. Help your clients trounce their competitors by pulling in best practice from other industries too.
Website users expect certain answers when they go to common web pages. Whether it’s an About Us page, a Plans & Pricing table, or a set of Terms & Conditions, you can help your client to brainstorm the questions a user will have when visiting that page, and they can get to work on writing the answers. Voila!
“I don’t have enough time to finish the content..”
Delegate content to their team
If content isn’t flowing, be quick to suggest that perhaps it could be better that someone else writes it. They could either ask if anyone in their team has talents in creating content, or they could delegate out a few pages each to various team members to meet a short deadline.
Engage a copywriter to gather content faster
Sometimes calling in the professionals is the way to go. Better quality, in less time than the client who could write it themselves. If budget isn’t an issue, working with a recommended copywriter will likely help the client to better meet their online business goals by having more effective copy.
“I don’t have a clue where to start..”
Baby steps to gather content
Writing content for a whole website can be daunting for a first timer. Break this down into easy to achieve goals, like just sorting out the Home page content on the first week, and then moving onto two subpages in the second.
Remember, draft content is far better than no content. It’s much easier for the client to refine existing content, even if it is a draft, than to come up with everything in a jiffy.
WriteMaps exists to keep all this crazy content organised. If you haven’t already had a go, take WriteMaps for a spin with a free trial