Thursday, April 14, 2011
Content Strategy: Creating a Website in 8 Steps
Recently someone asked me what the steps were to create a website from a content strategy perspective. Always a fan of “boiling it down”, the below list are my thoughts in brief. Obviously, I’ve skipped many many sub-steps. Obviously, I’ve over simplified. But this is a repeatable cycle that MUST happen for every site. And, preferably in this order.
1. Business strategy alignment: You must align your business strategy with the content you are creating or preserving for this new site, or site redesign. DELIVERABLE: Creative Brief
2. Content Audit: if you have an existing site, this step is critical. You must capture the content that is viable, as well as what is out of date. If your site is thousands and thousands of pages, you may need to figure out a technical solution to this problem, but there's nothing like actually "touching" each and every page. DELIVERABLE: Content Audit
3. User Task Analysis: Gerry McGovern talks about this just brilliantly in this podcast with Randall Snare. We need to stop thinking about pages as units of content, but rather tasks as units of content. Therefore, users come to websites (or applications) to accomplish tasks, and the content should support them in completing those tasks. DELIVERABLE: A List of Tasks
4. Page Specs: Different than wireframes, page specs exist to list for IA’s what types of content should be available from each template. DELIVERABLE: Page Spec
5. Information Architecture: IA is really web design, or so says Dan Brown. But it’s not visual design—it’s the guts of the website, the spine. Information flow, as well as how users will interact with the website are where those very important, handy IA’s come in. DELIVERABLES: Wireframes and Page Templates
6. Visual Design: Visual designers decorate and cue the user with visuals. They should be using the Creative Brief, as well as any other valuable research about the company, goals, etc. that they need to match the tone and messaging to a visual feel. DELIVERABLE: Visual Design Comps
7. Content Creation: This comes in many forms—text, video, audio, slideshows, PDFs, etc. DELIVERABLES: Copy Decks, Scripts, Whitepapers, etc.
8. Production: This is where templates are built, content is slid into place and quality assurance is performed. DELIVERABLE: The Finished Product
So, what did I miss? Go ahead, boil it down for me.
Kristina pointed out below that content governance is a critical part of this process. Since I say in my introduction that it needs to be a repeatable process, then I do think we need to add that 9th ongoing step. So whether you think of it as a step, or a process that completes itself AS a cycle, you must make sure that there are steps in place to ensure that someone is taking care and feeding your content.