Ten reasons your new website needs a content strategyJulius Honnor, January 2019
New websites are often seen as a development task, to be undertaken by people who can code. On a good day they’re sometimes also seen as design projects.
But when website projects fail, they often do so because of hiccups with the content.
Building a website without a content strategy is like building a house without an architect. Builders are great at putting bricks together, but without an overarching vision and a detailed plan to follow, they may not devise the most appropriate, effective, beautiful solution.
Our rule of thumb is that you should spend at least as much of your website budget on content as on development. Here’s why.
A good content strategy takes into account what you have and what you need, and will almost certainly recommend publishing less and doing it better. It will also make strategic recommendations about where to focus your efforts. These will probably not involve complex technical functionality. As a result, you’ll get a more effective, more user-friendly website for less money.
Many organisations spend large amounts of money on new websites, then use them for two or three years before throwing the baby out with the bathwater and starting the process all over again.
Often this happens because there’s a mismatch between content and system, and the website struggles to cope. Thinking in the longer term about the strategic needs of your content and your content systems means you’ll end up with a website that will last.
A content strategy will give your new website scope to flex over time, adapting to the changing environment and to users’ changing needs. Good content tools, a positive content culture and solid content processes are vital. Content strategy helps build a content ecosystem that has quality control baked in but isn’t cumbersomely bogged down in bureaucracy.
Content and user experience (UX) are perfect bedfellows. Content is central to what people do on websites, whether that’s articles they read, images they look at, words on buttons they click or instructions for forms they fill in.
The experience of content creators and editors is really important too.
Taking a content strategy approach to your new website will result in a better experience for everyone.
Content strategy will help uncover the strategic sweet spot of overlap where what users want meets what your organisation is trying to do.
Whatever you do – whether it’s selling shoes, changing the world, or both – if you don’t work out where this sweet spot is, your shiny new website will inevitably fail to be as effective as it could be.
Content strategists map and they model and they make plans. These things are engine oil for web projects. And some of them make excellent cakes, which also help.
Information architecture – the way that content is organised and structured – is vital to making sure that people can find your website, and that they can find their way around it once they do. Creating an information architecture without a content strategy can result in clutter, internal labels and confusion.
Building and designing the website around strategic content results in much better outcomes than building pretty containers to be filled later. Involving content strategy from the start means that you’ll end up with a beautifully coordinated outfit instead of uncomfortable clothes that clash.
Designers and developers will be thankful too, because they’ll have great raw materials to work with and they’ll know that the content won’t break their work, but instead show it in its best light.
Stumbling down blind alleys and building the wrong thing is a frequent waste of time in website projects. Getting the content strategy sorted means that the website project can run in the right direction and get there faster.
Lack of pain
Website projects often break down because the content isn’t considered early enough in the process. Getting content strategists on board from the start means that the end result is a better, more integrated combination of design, development and content. And everyone is happier.
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