Have you ever arrived to help a friend move only to find that they're still packing boxes? This happens all the time; usually the final "push" involves cramming random loose items in the seats of your car- you know, that last picture from the living room, the blender, a bunch of hangers, and a basketball...
The thing is, no matter how well you plan for moving day, it's very difficult to accurately visualize reorganizing the stuff that fills your home into small cardboard boxes. It's like the ultimate game of Tetris--when the rows start dropping faster, you leave all kinds of gaps in between blocks while trying to keep up. Evidently, what's true about moving physical things is also true about moving information: there is probably more to move than you thought, and less time to move it.
"Moving In" to Your New Website
I've seen all kinds of stressful things happen during the content entry phase of a project. Sometimes, the content hasn't even been created yet, so the time that should be used for a mechanical process--entering and formatting it properly using the site's content management system--gets quickly used up by a creative one. Or, the content entry process gets put off until the last moment, leaving our client pulling frustrating and stressful all-nighters and becoming more resentful toward the new website they should be thrilled about using. Another comes about when clients try to avoid the procrastination scenario I just described by hiring a third-party to enter the content for them, but then find themselves disoriented and unfamiliar with their site later on.
With these pitfalls in mind, here are 4 simple ground rules for content entry:
Start Creating Content Right Away
This cannot be stressed enough. Content entry is a mechanical process, not a creative one. If you have not already done the creative work--writing, image creation, video and audio work, etc.--beforehand, you will certainly run out of time trying to create and enter content at this point in the project. What's worse, rushed creative is always sloppy. Once you've defined personas and made some headway into prototyping during the website planning process, you should be able to start creating content. Starting then gives you ample time to do it well.
Don't Waste Time Styling
Because we build as much of the website's design to be automated as possible by using site-wide CSS styling and content-specific templates, you shouldn't have to worry about any kind of styling during the content entry process. This frees you up to just focus on good writing--what do you need to say, not how big that headline will be.
Start As Early as Possible
You Don't Need a "Moving Company"
Moving companies have clearly perfected the skills of organizing, packing, and transporting household items. While individual items and homes are unique, the challenges and tools are the same from job to job, so you can trust that a mover will be able to handle getting your heirloom china from your old home to your new one in one piece. This kind of service may work wonderfully with homes, but it doesn't work very well with websites. "Moving in" to a website involves the same kind of work as using it long term, so it's to any site owner's advantage to get familiar with it as early and naturally as possible. If the first time you interact with your content management system is much later, when you're under the gun to get a press release up, it probably won't go very well. Moreover, every website has unique functionality and logic behind it, which presents an added obstacle to any third-party trying to enter its content.
Once the content entry is complete and any last testing has been done, though, the site is probably ready to go live...