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How to Project Manage your Content

Gareth Cartman

If you're not project-managing your content through a web build, then you could end up disenfranchising everyone from designers to developers and SEO. We like to go content-first, manage the content workflow in the cloud, and we like to keep everyone happy. Here's how...

how to project manage your content

Here’s a worst-case scenario, and I’ll see you afterwards for a summary and some harsh questions…

Me, again. Now, do you see where the problems are going to come? There are so many questions emanating from this scenario, let’s try and nail down a few…

  1. Who’s writing that copy, then?
  2. Is it all going to fit?
  3. If it doesn’t fit, will you go back to the designers & developers?
  4. How are you managing version control of the content? After all, it’s going to change with multiple stakeholders
  5. When does SEO get a stab at this?

Actually, none of these are the questions you should have been asking… the first question is…

“Why wasn’t the copy written before designs were done?”

Let’s go back to the start, shall we? 

We use a tool called Gather Content, and as part of our project management of a web build, we make sure that the content is written at the start of the project, alongside the designers.

It’s hardly revolutionary, but it guarantees the following:

  • designers can help you make the copy more readable
  • you can help designers get their work seen by ensuring there’s enough copy on the page
  • you can position your key messaging within the design
  • together with the designer, you can understand how content is broken up in the template
  • then, you know what content is needed, in what sections, and in what quantities

Within Gather Content, you can build content templates, which are basically a set of fields into which you can write content. You can have a home page template, a product template, a service template, a team member template… the limit is your imagination.

Build out your Gather Content as you have built out your site structure, and you can develop the content in a format that designers and developers can understand and interpret – because they’ve helped you.

Everyone has an opinion

Let’s consider your stakeholders. You may have the marketing team, and a product team. You might have individual Heads of Department who all have a stake in the content on their individual pages. 

You may have regulatory considerations – so there could be legal and compliance teams, each of whom would be requesting changes to your content. There could be medical teams if you work in healthcare. We’ve been through this with Animas and Animas Academy - multiple review teams need to access the content at different times. It has to be easy for them.

You’ll also have an SEO team who will, of course, need to interject before any kind of compliance or legal review takes place.

This means that you need a Workflow. We create our workflows bespoke to every client in Gather Content, based around the stakeholders involved and the legal requirements for each piece of content that is to go on the site. What’s more, you can put deadlines against each part of the Workflow.

This way, content starts in draft, with the structure that you want for each page, with recommendations to the writer for section length (as opposed to page length), and once written, it goes into proofing and review. Once approved internally, it can go to SEO, and then it can go to any compliance reviews you need. At all stages, you can refer back to previous versions, and you can comment on different parts of the copy.

The Benefits of Project-Managed Copy

Pretty simple:

  1. Designers are happy because the content is written to look good
  2. Developers are happy because you’re not overflowing content
  3. Multiple stakeholders get a chance to provide input
  4. SEO teams are able to influence copy at the right stage
  5. Compliance teams love the process – because it’s a process
  6. Word files don’t go missing – it’s cloud-based

And don’t let project-managed copy stop at the web design process. You can transport this process into anything that involves content and the web. 

For instance, you could be writing a White Paper called The State of Safety in the Hydraulics Industry (I know, I’ve been waiting for this one for years, please will someone write it?).

You will have a different Workflow, but you can populate these elements in the same kind of structure. You start with a researcher who gathers together all of the intelligence, quotes and research data. This can be collated in Gather Content, behind a tab, ready for the copywriter who will be able to build a structure alongside a designer.

You could be holding a whole editorial calendar, with multiple departments flowing content in on a regular basis. Build the structure and recommendations for each section, and set a date for each piece of content.

This isn’t about the tool, although the right tools help – it’s about the process of project-managing multiple pieces of content at the right time. If you’re waiting for web copy after you’ve designed a website, you know exactly what’s going to happen – there will be too much of it, or too little. It won’t fit. It won’t look good.

The designers & developers won’t be happy, and the SEO team will have to either lose their valuable copy or dilute it.

Go content-first, work with your design team, and let the Workflow do the work for you.