Around here, people often compare the content entry phase of a project to moving into a new house. You have to take all of your belongings from one place and move them into another. After all, your website is your home on the web. They even call it a homepage!
The reason this analogy is used is to explain to clients that content creation and content entry can take a lot longer than expected. It is a process that should not be saved until after the site is built, rather, it should be done while the site is being built.
I like to take this a step further and say that most new website projects are more like moving into your first real house after graduation. It’s probably much bigger than what you’re used to and there’s a lot of empty space that you need to figure out how you’re going to fill. And that “Animal House” movie poster just isn’t quite going to cut it any more.
The first step to moving into a new home is determining what you want to take with you and what is going off to the landfill. This is also true with your website. You probably have some legacy content that is no longer relevant that either needs to be thrown out or needs a major overhaul to fit in with the content strategy of the new site.
Next, you have to begin packing everything up and getting it ready for the big day. You don’t really think about packing up your content on the web, but you do need to spend some time going through the content on your old site and deciding if it needs to be edited or re-written to fit the message and the content strategy of the new site.
While packing up all of your things, you often realize that you need to buy some new things for the new house, especially because your dorm room didn’t even have a kitchen! Similarly, you need to start thinking early about what new content your site will need. If you’re adding a blog or a newsletter, start planning ahead by brainstorming and writing some of this content before the site goes live. You don’t want to confuse content creation with content entry. Content creation should be done well before you start entering content into the CMS.
Even if you are just moving into a house that has a different layout, that dresser may not fit quite right, so you may have to do some shopping. Likewise, some of your content just won’t look quite right or fit snuggly into the new site, so be sure you take the time to re-evaluate, and re-create content where necessary.
Once the creative step, content creation, is concluded, and all of your content is boxed up and ready for the new site, it is time for the more mechanical process of content entry. Again, be warned, it will often take much longer to unpack those boxes than you think!
The content entry process should begin as soon as the whitescreen phase is completed. The design may not be in place yet, but the site will be functional and ready to be filled with your content. You should again plan to start early and count on it taking longer than expected to figure out where everything is going to go and to get it all in there.
Let’s be honest, you can’t leave half of your content packed up in boxes and use it as a coffee table like you did in that first house.
The last thing to remember when entering content actually doesn’t relate to moving in at all. When entering content, don’t worry about style. Content entry is mechanical, not creative. The best part is that you’re using a content management system with built in site-wide CSS styling and template pages that were built custom so that all of your content would already be styled correctly. So just worry about getting all of the content in there, not what size and color the headline is going to be.
If you just remember to plan ahead, start early, and be prepared, then you will be all set for a successful move to your new website.