Insights // Talking Shop

What content do you need to manage?

Last updated November 14, 2016

This simple question can jump start a million different answers.

Our strategy in 4 steps:

  1. Create a strategy: what we need to say, how to say it
  2. Design a system around how to manage that content: who updates, how often, why?
  3. Build (or redesign) the actual website around that content.
  4. Teach you how to manage that content.

It’s really this simple. And complex.

Everything we do revolves around content. You’ve heard the old cliche: content is king. (And queen. We’ve got your back, ladies.)

Yet many web designers are treating content as if it’s your problem: are you feeling like the court jester yet?

Doing it out of order

Oftentimes, you’ll see an agency’s Secret Proprietary Process™ look something like this:

  1. Design (or redesign) your website (#3 on our list)
  2. Wait for you come up with content to fill into their design (#1 on our list)—hopefully it all fits into their templates!
  3. Show you how to manage it at the launch meeting (#4 on our list)—unless they charge you extra for training

So what’s missing? We’ll give you a hint…

#2: Strategy

Oftentimes the strategy is non-existent and left up to the agency—or worse yet, implied by the client with no actual intention on being fulfilled by the designer. This is where things go haywire.

A very common example: Why add a blog if nobody will ever write in it? It sounded great at the time of the proposal but an empty blog is worse than not having one at all.

We all know content marketing is appropriate. So, maybe the name “blog” isn’t really appropriate. Maybe we should we be writing articles or white papers instead? How often are we going to be doing it?

This all comes back to marketing strategy. Yet, oftentimes the “can we?” of technology trumps the “should we?” of strategy. Certain sections of a website get lumped into with “yes, we need this”.

Design means purpose

If the purpose of your website is to do X, then why are we spending so much time on Z? In other words, everything we do has a purpose. And when things are executed properly, we say it was “by design.” Let’s help you figure out what that is.

Oftentimes the strategy decisions are done in a vacuum by upper management. Then, it’s up to the junior marketing person’s job to find the right agency to execute said design. This isn’t design, it’s execution.

20 pounds of apples in a 5 pound bag

You won’t save money by thinking you can do the strategy yourself because invariably one of those pieces isn’t going to fit into the puzzle. UI Expert and writer Jared Spool wrote an excellent article entitled “Design is the Rendering of Intent.” It’s exactly what its contents suggest.

The next time you see a design that’s cluttered and unfriendly, it’s because there wasn’t any strategy. And this is why designers of all kinds (graphic designer, art director, etc.) need to be in those strategy meetings.


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