Mind the content when redesigning your website
By Lorraine S. Green
Project types that we encounter a lot at Comprend are when rebuilding a current website, redesigning or rebranding it or doing major upgrading to the current CMS. A lot of time, money and effort is spent on design, UX and development in these projects – but many times the content falls behind.
"Let's just migrate the current content and we'll work on that later" is not an unusual comment in our line of work and believe us when we say that it will make us cry. Why? Firstly it will not make your new website perform as well as it could, and secondly it will most probably require more time and money in the long run when having to restart a project for the content work later on. Content work takes time, and even if a migration is the plan, it is not a task that "just happens". It is a manual job which demands planning and resources for publishing routines that are the same regardless of whether the content is old or new.
No rules without exceptions
Of course, there are situations where speed is of the essence, and since content work demands project budget and resources, a 1:1 content migration might be the only solution. This mostly happens when the whole project is a 1:1 migration (i.e. a change of technical platform) and not when major design work is happening along with UX updates.
How to incorporate the content work
We often note that 1:1 migrations take more time than initially imagined. Trying to fit old content into a new form is like buying a brand new car but deciding to reuse the radio from the old one, because – hey – it's not broken. It will most probably not really fit, not connect to your new tech system, look a little ugly, and consume a lot more of your time trying to make it work.
Even if what you design and develop might not massively differ from the CMS page types, blocks or functionality that you have today, just migrating the current content will not make the website as seamless as it should be. Having a newly-designed and modern website with all the accompaniments presents a golden opportunity to review and upgrade your content. This is undoubtedly a better use of time that would have been used on the content migration part of the project anyway.
First of all, it is preferable to involve the project's content strategist as part of design, UX and development processes. In this way, the website will be adapted for the content – including the messages that you as a company want to communicate – from the very outset, and not the other way around.
In reality, we know that this is not always how a project works. However, regardless of whether there is already a CMS/design/UX concept in place, or whether content work can be incorporated during the creation of that, a great way to start is by working with the method of Impact Mapping. The process allows you to review, reflect on and conclude:
- the purpose and goals of your website
- who your prioritised users are
- what needs they might have
- how to find the solutions for those needs
The next step is to review the current content based on the outcomes of the Impact Mapping. The objective is to understand the content that fits and the content that does not, by reflecting on the purpose, goals, users and needs of the project. Once this has been decided you can continue to examine which content:
- can stay as it is
- fits but needs to be reworked
- should be removed
- is missing and thus needs to be created
Again, it's a great benefit if the project's content strategist is part of the design and development process, as this will save a lot of time when reviewing what current content does or does not work.
Don't forget to consult the Impact Mapping BFF here – data. And then, let the hands-on content production work begin!