Newfangled works with independent agencies to create lead development web platforms for their clients.

Newfangled works with independent agencies to create lead development web platforms for their clients.

A Website is a Work in Progress



The web--the entire web, including every individual website in it, even yours--is a work in progress. Once the initial planning, design, development and testing of a website is complete, there's actually plenty more to be done. So before you schedule that vacation, make sure you've taken into account the content entry and go-live process, as well as the schedule you plan to follow moving forward with your website content strategy. Content entry? Go live? Content Strategy? If you're hearing this for the first time, then stick around. This article is for you.

Last month, I began our short series on How a Website is Built by covering those initial planning and production phases, describing in detail how we prototype, design, build and test a website. This month, I'll finish up the series by covering the last steps that occur before a site is launched and then some thoughts on the ongoing life of your website. There's a lot to cover, so let's get right to it...







Comments

Jillian | March 2, 2010 10:31 AM
Great newsletter, Chris. It covers all the "hidden" bases that many of our clients don't even realize exist when they initially plan a new website project.
Katie | March 2, 2010 2:39 PM
Chris,

There are so many dead-on analogies in this newsletter. I especially like the comparison of content entry to moving day. The part of moving that always takes 10x the time I expect is dealing with clean out WHILE I move. Similarly, most people have legacy content from an old site that they need to sift through to determine if it stays or goes. That adds a ton of time.

Also, I couldn't help but think of 301 Redirects being equivalent to mail forwarding -- both incredibly important and often forgotten :)

Katie
Russ | March 2, 2010 7:08 PM
You're nailing something about so-called strategy that's been bugging me for a long time. We've brought in plenty of "social media strategists" or "content strategists" and they all pretty much amount to guys telling us how to blog or use Twitter. I always want to say where's the beef but have lacked a way to say it that won't get labeled being out of touch.
Maggie B | March 2, 2010 8:17 PM
Seeing the timeline of changes to your site over the last decade was fascinating- makes sense a web design company would do so many redesigns. Do you have any similar case studies of doing one or more redesigns for clients? I'd love to see the transitions for a site in another, less creative industry. Also, are there any smart ways to save some money the second or third times around?
Ed Bryson | March 3, 2010 7:42 AM
Chris, another comprehensive piece. I like the combination of sophisticated process with the simplest tool at your disposal (e.g. gchat for coordinating the website launch). Makes a lot of sense.
Chris Butler | March 3, 2010 10:28 AM
Jiliian: Thanks! That's the idea--to have a detailed resource, between this article and Part 1, on how it all works. I hope it will be useful for some time to come.

Katie: Very true. 301 Redirects used to be something people thought about after their traffic was negatively impacted by a rebuild--"wouldn't it have been smart if we'd..." Having a module built into our sites that allow users to create the redirects during the content entry phase is so important. Too important, in fact, to have been left out! Thanks for bringing it up. In fact, someone should turn our wiki entry on 301 redirects into a blog post...

Russ: I'm glad that distinction is helpful. It's helpful to us to remember, too. We advise our clients on strategy all the time, but it's critical to get the lingo right at the beginning, otherwise any authority you should have is undermined.

Maggie B: Right now, we don't have any similar case studies that show a succession of redesigns and rebuilds, but we probably should. As I said, we've done this for several clients, some of which have been in relationship with us for over a decade. I'll work on getting one into our Featured Projects section.

Ed Bryson: Thanks for the compliment, and for making it that far through the article! Next month's should be a less dense entry...
Suzanne | March 3, 2010 8:32 PM
My experience has been that creating the content takes far longer than anyone really thinks it will, and not only that, probably can't be done by the marketing team working on the website. An article from A List Apart does a great job of showing why the writing process is much more complicated than most people would assume. The big takeaway is that there is a hidden process of getting the knowledge from engineers, designers, product people, sales people, etc. and translating it into good web copy. Just because you know your stuff doesn't mean you can write it in a way that web users can make sense out of it.
Alex | March 3, 2010 9:52 PM
I think what @maggieb is talking about is much more common with creatives than others when it comes to websites. I and otherse like me who studied design, tend to redo my own website almost once a year. Maybe too often, but it just seems necessary. What @suzanne mentions probably doesn't hang us up much because our content is image-based and not much writing. This, like the first part, was a really helpful resource for those of us who would naturally make a simple website for ourselves but need to do something bigger for a client. Thanks for the insights.
Chris Butler | March 4, 2010 9:27 AM
Suzanne: There are some great points in the article by Erin Kissane you've linked to. Her suggestion of content templates is a good one, too. I can imagine that a company like ours could do well with that approach, particularly in the area where the template provides examples. Having done web development for so long, providing actually helpful examples should be easier for the web company than the client. The only thing missing from the template--as far as I can tell--are suggestions for length and strategic focus of the content. The example they are showing is for a product detail page, but other pages, such as those that might describe a service offering or a core discipline, would need to have indications of what goals are prioritized (i.e. a reader should proceed to another page, or a reader should complete a call to action) and even what length of copy and type of imagery is appropriate.

Alex: I agree. Creating web content for many creatives has tended to be an imagery/graphics-oriented exercise. But written content is important for them, too. Being able to describe what you do, in addition to showing image samples of your work, is one of the primary ways to get prospects to understand what they're buying. Your website should do that in addition to inspiring them with the work you've already done.
Russ | March 4, 2010 10:28 AM
Under *Engagement* you mention various ways to push the conversation. Following up on comments, participating in forums, etc. offsite, rep mgmt, and so on. How much time do you spend on this?
Chris Butler | March 5, 2010 4:37 PM
Russ: That's a good question. It really depends upon the activity that any given post or article generates. There's a general process I follow in terms of promoting content--certain sites I always submit links to, plus sharing via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like, which only takes a few minutes. Once readers start commenting, though, that can take some time to read and respond. As far as my own engagement offsite--reading and commenting on other blogs and publications--that tends to vary as well. I'd probably estimate that I spend an hour a day on that kind of thing.

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