Here at Paramount: we’ve built a lot of websites for almost every kind of company. Without fail, organizing web content is the most challenging part of the process for even our most organized and dedicated clients. With often varying pages of content and more and more elements that are easily forgotten – almost inevitably – there is either too much content or not nearly enough! We’ve created this guide to give you some tips on organizing your website content into a meaningful and productive process. But sorry, you still have to write the content yourself.
Locate Your Assets
The first step in organizing your content is to make sure you take an inventory of everything that is both existing contributions to the new site & those needing to be sourced.
- Your Current Website: It can be your best friend. Sometimes all you need to develop NEW content is to refresh what’s already there.
- Your Search Engine Metrics: At Paramount, before we redesign a client’s website, we have our software “crawl” your site like a search engine would and return a list of all pages, what they stand out for (good or bad) as well as specific on-page SEO Elements. Your current digital footprint shows you where your new content can, or should be the most impactful.
- Marketing Assets: Look through any and every piece of marketing you’ve ever put out. What messages were most successful and how were they presented? What messaging is your personal or marketing team’s favorite? What presents itself as tired or non-experiential? Combine elements that align with your online and company goals, and ensure those that don’t aren’t anywhere near your content.
- Images: To show up well on today’s MANY different devices, digital images need to large, high resolution files. Look through old marketing, ask employees, and if you just know finding images is going to be a struggle, there are many places online – paid and free – to find high quality imaging for almost any industry.
- Inspiration: When starting a new project of any kind, inspiration is truly an asset. In content creation – inspiration is crucial. Look at your competition, go back and read other websites or Facebook pages you’ve connected with or web offers that made you want to buy.
If you’re a new company, with little in terms of marketing materials, or branding statements – don’t be ashamed in looking to your competition, or even other companies you respect for inspiration. You’ll often find you have more at your disposal than you think.
Lay It Out
In whatever way makes the most sense to you, outline your pages into a list. Don’t worry about categorizing yet, just list every Page. If you can only think of subjects right now, that’s fine. Actual titles will come to you. Once you get this list – get that many blank pieces of paper and write your page titles or subject on the top. Use these individual pages for brief descriptions. Organize each page consistently. Think: Title? Check. Image(s)? Check. Copy? Check.
If you’re writing All New Content….
The Power of a Pad & Pencil (yes, pencil):
Even though we’re a digital agency, you’ll find many of us prefer toting around our pads and pens over a laptop or tablet. Though this may seem counter intuitive to an efficient content writing process – there is something about handwriting that slows our minds down enough to actually think. We don’t get as ahead of ourselves and have more time to stay with our current thought. When you make a mistake (which is reason to use a pencil), use the time it takes you to erase it, to think about what you’re going to write in its place. Slowing your writing process down to a handwriting speed will craft you richer, more relevant content – as well as speed up the creative process in the long run.
If you’re NOT writing all new content….
The Power of your Customers and Colleagues:
Make a notecard for every page you listed. With all of your (even handwritten) cards, go to your colleagues and ask them to organize each card into groups and make notes about what pages are typically grouped together. You’ll quickly start to see that 1) most people group things in similar piles and 2) a few cards always switch between groups, depending on who is grouping them. Once a person has made their groups, have them name each group something they think fits. Maybe after you doctor up the pages a bit, try this with your customers too.
What you’re doing here is trying to understand how different people think of your content. Obviously colleagues may be more biased with how things should be organized based on department, etc. But why did they group “about us” with “history”? If there are cards that people struggle to group together, you may want to consider removing those pages from the site completely. Alternatively, you might want to take the content on those pages and combine it with another page.
If you don’t have the type of customers or colleagues to do this with you, take a look at your current website’s visitor flow. It will show you amazing things about how people get to your site, and where they travel within it once they’re there. You’ll quickly see eliminable pages in addition to content you may not want to change a bit.
Sort it out
After you have your groups named and you know the pages inside each group, you just have to put together the content doc. We just use a spreadsheet to document it all, which allows us to add some on-page elements to each page. It’s a nice way to keep everyone on the same page. When you get to this stage, let us know.
Planning your site architecture can be a challenging task – especially when you’re converting legacy content! But, if you begin by taking an inventory and then enlisting the help of your colleagues and customers, you can pretty quickly decide what content should stay and where it should live inside the site.