In the second of our three-part ‘Content First’ series, we’ll take a look at the practical considerations of taking a content-first approach to your web project. Throughout, we will cover everything from building your site map, deciding who will manage your content, setting call to actions that benefit your business, considering visuals, setting deadlines and optimising your content.

Determine Ownership

Determining content ownership is the starting point for any web development project. This person/team/agency will oversee every aspect of content gathering for the project including creating the sitemap, content creation, and approvals as well as outlining the project timeframe and setting deadlines.

If you’ve read our previous blogs, you’ll already know that content is the number one cause of delays to web projects. With this in mind, identifying who is taking ownership of your content should be agreed right at the start of the project. This allows for plenty of time to gather information from the wider group, write the content, and gain internal approval to ensure deadlines are achieved.

Content gathering can be collaborative, and we encourage our clients to collate content from all areas of the business. No one understands your offering and processes better than your people on the frontline. Tools such as Gather Content, Kentico Cloud and Google Docs are useful and encourage collaboration from the wider organisation.

Create a Sitemap

Creating a sitemap helps you plan your content, determining how many pages you want and how many page templates will need designing.

UX is an important consideration here to ensure that information is clearly and easily available within the site navigation. Whilst you don’t want 100s of pages, you need to make sure that you have the right information visible. There are a number of free programmes that can help you to lay out your site map such as Gloomaps or XMind.

Planning internal cross-links between pages will help to keep users on your site and direct them to interesting and relevant information.

Set deadlines…and plan for extended deadlines

Your sitemap will dictate how much content you need to write. This is a daunting task initially, especially when taking a content-first approach to inform the design. Mapping out the entire project including design, development and testing time, you can work backwards from your desired go-live date to see how much time you have to write the content needed to launch your website.

We recommend setting a deadline that allows for a bit of wiggle-room should you be waiting on approvals or experience unexpected project delays.

Breaking down your content into blocks or phases makes it more manageable. What is the minimal amount of content required for go-live? Depending on your business, the top navigation bar can be a starting point for planning go-live content. Additional resources such as blog posts and case studies can be helpful to support lead optimisation and engagement if you have the time.

Go-live isn’t final. There is still time to go back and revise existing content and build upon your initial sitemap after you launch the website.

Select a Content Friendly CMS

There are many content management systems out there, but not all of them work well when you’re working to a content-first approach.

You want to choose a CMS that provides ease of use, flexibility and functionality such as a custom page builder, intuitive editing, media library and widgets, empowering your content editors to take back control for your website. This enables them to create and share new content quickly and efficiently through a centralised solution, without the dependency of developers to code and publish pages.

Here at NetConstruct, we work with only two platforms, Kentico and Umbraco. Both run on a .NET framework and both are extremely content friendly!

Kentico Cloud allows you to input your content into defined ‘page types’ which can be linked and duplicated based on your content and site map. This acts as a Headless CMS allowing you to collate content and work on development separately.

Umbraco works in a similar way and provides a range of features that deliver easy editing experiences such as:

Umbraco Headless – collate text, images and video in a central resource and quickly and easily share this across desktop, mobile and tablet. Similar to Kentico Cloud, Umbraco Headless empowers content editors to update and share great content, without the reliance on development.

ContentFlow - developers and editors working in parallel, without the risk of version control. Enabling deployments from your local site to the Umbraco Cloud site, rollback to a previous version or sync content from Live. Meanwhile, content editors can transfer updates without leaving the Umbraco back-office.

Infinite Editing – edit content from a single editing flow with customised intuitive flows to enable adaptive and modern content creation.

Practical planning is an important part of any web development project, whether you choose to take a content first approach or decide to stick to a traditional development model. The biggest takeaway you can take from this article is the importance of identifying who is managing your content and setting strict deadlines. Without considering these elements then you are likely to come up against delays in your project down the line.

Working with us, we ensure that every aspect of your website has been considered, and where possible, try to save you time, resources and money, by repurposing the best parts of your existing website to build a strong content foundation.

In the third and final part of our ‘Content First’ series, we are looking at content considerations such as tone of voice, CTA’s, visuals and SEO.

For more information about a new website project and taking a content-first approach, then please contact us.