Getting Over the Content Development Grind

written by: Mike Granetz

May 28, 2014

An interesting phenomenon of site builds is that there’s a general enjoyment of the design phase. Considering layouts, selecting colors, experimenting with functionality — for the visually oriented majority of us, this tends to be the most fun. We all love images and interaction, and this aspect is a combination of working with an architect, landscaper and interior decorator. You’re laying out the place and making it pretty. The next step — content development — isn’t so well received. It usually tests people’s patience.

But the truth is inescapable, the best looking websites also need to be the most convincing and the most informative. That means good content.

Here’s where we see people going into a more casual mode, and that can be dangerous. We hear things like: “Just take our brochure and drop that content into the site,” or “I’ll knock that out this weekend . . . or next weekend . . . or the weekend after that.” That can seem like sensible shortcuts to site content, but they more often end up as a road to nowhere.

We agree that website content development is not easy. It can be laborious, with drafts and revisions bouncing back and forth, often in text files entirely removed from the context of site design and navigation. That makes it slow the site launch precisely because versioning and revisions can drag on well past even accommodating deadlines.

Well, perhaps there’s a better way…

We’ve been testing platforms that allow the controlled, collaboration of draft website content. These not only let you review the content in the order it would appear on screen, they allow for easy edits that don’t require disruption of layout or re-upload of fresh drafts every time.

Our favorite right now is GatherContent, which is allowing us to test a new content development process that is cutting virtual reams of Word and Google doc versions from our inboxes. Our copywriters drop drafts right in to a living site architecture that our clients can, in turn, see and refine in an easy visual context. It is giving content development the same kind of review cycle design has; clients can read and edit copy, and also see how it presents on screen. (How do the clients like it? We’ll let you know in a future post!)

Our content team has always hated to hear it, but they can’t dispute the reality: nobody wants to deal with content. Now that we’re testing a development model that allows for it to be revised and refined within the emerging site design, dealing with content is like picking out a site color scheme or prioritizing navigation.

Is content creation still work? Absolutely. Does it take everyone’s participation? Of course. Is it that drudgery that keeps getting pushed down everyone’s to-do list? Now, not so much . . .

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