Like packing up belongings in one house to move to a new one, gathering and organizing content for a new website can often feel overwhelming. For the easiest transitions in moving, it’s best to have a plan: to decide which furniture is headed to the new house, to label packed boxes for each room, and to know what type of new pieces you need to buy to make it feel like home. In much the same way, it is best to have a content plan for your new website. Planning takes time but doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Follow these five steps for ease in organizing your content.
Gather all existing content
The first step in planning is to gain an understanding of all the content you have. It may all be housed on your current website, making this step quick and easy. But chances are you have some content online, some printed in brochures, images and infographics on presentation slides, and other content housed in a separate blog. Start by knowing where all of your content is and what resources you have to pull from. This will create less stress in future steps.
Organize it for the new navigation
When moving to a new house, rarely is the layout or blueprint of the home exactly like your old one. The same is true of website redesigns. A new navigation or sitemap will often come along with the new design. Your company may have changed or added services since the last redesign, or perhaps you’re trying to reach a new audience. An updated navigation will reflect recent company changes.
Take this opportunity to plan your new navigation. Segment your content into no more than seven main ideas, such as About, Services, Work. These will be your top-level navigation. From there, organize your sub-level content. Pages like Team, Mission and History can all go under the About page.
Decide what stays and goes
Once you have planned your new navigation, it’s time to decide if the page is really necessary. Ask yourself and others, does this page have a clear, main point? If you are having a hard time discovering the purpose of the page, get rid of it. Also, consider consolidating several pages into one, like a FAQ page.
Sometimes old content just doesn’t fit with the new site. Decide if you are going to keep it, edit it or discard it. It might be helpful to organize your content using Excel. Create a Content Inventory sheet with notes about each web page like the one below for a clear understanding of your content status.
Create or update content that you need
Now that you know what pages need to be written or updated, spend some time creating valuable content. This step takes the longest and is often what holds up website launches, so plan accordingly. Carve out time in your schedule each week for content development. If you know you need a lot of new content written, it might be best to call upon a copywriter.
Pack it all up for an easy transition
Once all of the content for the new site is written and updated, it’s best to compile it in an easy-to-process format for your web designer. Gather all of your content in a folder labeled with your company name. The folder should contain word documents corresponding to each web page with the appropriate content. If the page is being copied from your old site, simply mark it on your Excel sheet with the correct URL from which it will be pulled. See an example of the Content Inventory sheet with New Content Instructions. Passing along this Content Inventory sheet to your web designer will help to limit confusion and ensure you and your designer are on the same page.
Organizing content for your new websites doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but it does take time and planning. If you’re looking to renovate your website and create new content, COGNITION can help!