Most of the time when I developed websites for my customers, I was the first person the company or organization used to build a website. Therefore, I missed on some key elements.
Content is one of those elements.
The client didn’t know what he or she should be gathering. I thought, and they did too, that I was building a website.
So much more was needed.
I educated, but rarely was I compensated for such information and training.
We have already determined that gathering content for a website project is a PITA (pain in the arse). I mean, no one’s got time for that!
There are several different tools that can help you be the master of gathering content for your next website project.
However, there are three things to keep in mind at the beginning of such a project.
Treat this like Project Management
It is very easy not to do this, but you have to treat this as a part of project management.
Teams usually do this better than solopreneurs. This was one of the biggest issues I faced when I was a solo WordPress builder. I did not have a project manager, I did not have experience in project management, and I was clueless to that fact that I was, in fact, serving as the de facto project manager.
This was especially true with small businesses who had little or no experience with a website project.
Often, I was the first person to build them a website. Project management was the furthermost from my mind, but I was the one who had to lead in the process. I have learned better.
Just say no! To: CD’s, Printed copy, brochures, more and Flash!
Clients may say, “yeah, we have the content,” and give you a mishmash of content on CD’s, printed brochures, maybe a zip file of a bunch of stuff cobbled together.
You will then spend the bulk of your time trying to turn these into the appropriate formats for the web.
I mean, have you ever gotten a logo in an MS Paint file? Or a GIF? Uh, no!
This is part of the education process ahead of time, especially if your client has never navigated a website project.
They do not know what to expect.
This can be part of the intake process.
Additionally, if they need lots of help, you know to change your scope and your proposed amount. You shouldn’t do it for free!
Collaboration: Every project is a two-way street
Every project is a two-way street. You have a part to do, and your client has a part to do.
This is where having project management comes into play. I learned this when I worked with an agency. It is important to have some kind of management to keep things on task. Build it into your scope.
Therefore, gathering your content for the project requires collaboration. You have to position the project for this. We will discuss below.
Things needed for gathering content
What are some of the things that you need to gather for website content?
Naturally, some of that depends on the size of your website project. All projects share some similar types of content that are needed.
Determine what is needed and create a checklist as part of your project management. This will help avoid surprises.
It might be a good idea to visit with your client to get a sense of some of the things they want on their website.
- Style Guide
- Images/Graphics in appropriate format
- Template for the pages – if the owner needs prompts – needed for web formatting
- Professional photography – I hope
- Professional graphics
- Will they want: an email newsletter, place for ad banners (ugh), selling products, forms, social media icons,
- All of their basic contact information
- SEO tags – meta titles, meta descriptions, keywords
Project Management Tools
The great thing about project management tools is they were created to manage a project. Therefore, they have built in collaboration resources.
Several allow you to add clients to your team and help facilitate communication.
Additionally, they offer the ability to upload documents, or, as it were, content.
Thus, tools for gathering content may already be in your toolbox.
These four are project management software that can accomplish content gathering. Most of these start with a free plan. Plans requiring team members have prices.
- Asana – Asana is one the most popular project management tools with a whole array of tools at the user’s disposal.
- Wrike – Wrike is an underappreciated piece of software which some find more logical for project management.
- Freedcamp – Freedcamp is a free project management software.
- Zoho Projects – Zoho has a huge suite of tools of which Projects is a part.
Are you looking for even more options?
Check out this list for project management
Content Collaboration Tools
There are some really strong tools made just for this particular type of project. These tools are typically made for larger teams but may be worth the price for teams who are routinely doing content management projects.
I really like Jumpchart as it is designed exactly for this type of project.
According to their website:
“Jumpchart takes the pain out of website planning.
Jumpchart gets all of your website development project’s stakeholders onto the same page. Everyone on your team will feel better when they know they have a single place to go to for all their questions, and collaboration.”
Gather Content is one of my favorites, but it is more suitable for big projects.
Nevertheless, the software is built specifically for content production for a website project.
GatherContent has lots of resources as well as case studies, and it is clear this is the problem they are solving.
According to the website:
“Take control of your content production process
Painlessly plan, organise and produce web content. All in one place.”
It might be too much for smaller teams with smaller projects.
DivvyHQ and CoSchedule
I want to address DivvyHQ and CoSchedule. They handle things a little differently and more akin to being a content creation and workflow software.
In other words, they aren’t designed to help gather content. That being said, if your project requires a lot of initial content creation, they might be what you need to use.
DivvyHQ is the platform of many content marketing companies including the Content Marketing Institute. CoSchedule, as we know, was made by a team of developers and morphed into a complete content creation and workflow solution.
Other Collaboration Tools
These are not the only tools on the market for content collaboration. Here is a quick recap on four.
I never thought much about Google Drive for collaboration until I read where Chris Brogan claimed he used it to write a book with Julien Smith It dawned on me the power of Google Drive, and I have used it ever since.
The biggest challenge may be arranging your internal file structure to manage collaboration.
Microsoft has done well helping those who produce content for a very long time. OneNote is one of those products.
OneNote also allows you to make notes and changes to various platforms such as mobile phone, etc.
Evernote is a powerful tool. Evernote has the apps as well as the desktop version and allows for collaboration.
Joanna Wiebe and Copyhackers just released Airstory publically on February 2. This piece of software is made for heavy use writers and copywriters.
If you make your living writing, it is worth taking a look.
Full disclosure: I was a beta tester and compiled this article inside Airstory.
Wrapping it up
There are multiple ways to gather content for a client’s website. I think the key is to treat it like a project that needs to be managed.
Key elements is a way to manage the types of documents, collaboration and the ability to manage tasks for different members of the team.
What tools do you use to gather content? What kind of process do you have?