Plan ahead for managing changes in content
Unlike its functionality and design, the content of a website can be changed quickly and easily. Anyone with a CMS login and an idea has the keys to the castle. When web content is developed and maintained effectively, it’s a huge asset to the user experience, but poor content maintenance is the quickest way to wreck the whole thing.
Fast-forward six months after you launch your website, things have changed. A bunch of new content has been added in awkward places.
Other things are exactly how you left them, but they were supposed to be updated regularly. You ask yourself, “Why did they add an entirely new category of information just six months after launch? Why is the ‘help’ text different? What’s the deal with the awkward picture on the home page?”
Establishing content maintenance processes and practices can help you ensure the visitor experience is great at launch and remains happy ever after. Even if you don’t consider content to be part of your job, there are few content-related things that can help your projects succeed long term.
Think about content early and strategically
Content needs to be considered during the strategy phase of the project. Someone needs to think about:
Substance (what content topics and messages will be covered)
Structure (how content will be formatted, organized, and accessed)
Workflow (who will create and maintain content, what processes will be followed)
Governance (how content will be managed over time)
This work can be done by a content strategist, another member of the team, or collectively as a group. It just needs to get done.
Short on time? In many cases, it’s better to launch with less quantity and more quality. Prioritize the content that is most important, and see how it goes. That will help everyone understand the complexity of the content process and develop realistic timelines for the rest of the content.
Prepare for Change
Things move quickly online, and content needs to change frequently to stay relevant. If there is no plan in place for maintenance, content updates become a free-for-all or they don’t happen at all. Pre-defined change management processes protect the integrity of the content and the sanity of the content writer.