An associate wanted to know my thoughts on the website he was designing for a client. I told him it was nice and asked about the content.
‘Well, they’ll just move over what they’ve got,’ he said.
I asked him the last time the content had been audited.
He didn’t know.
I asked him if they had any plans to repurpose the current content for the new website.
I also asked other questions about the content:
Who is the website’s target audience?
Who is in charge of the information architecture?
Who is going to map out the customer journey?
How are you going to do the user testing?
I can see some areas of the website have not been updated in a while, are you just going to move the content those areas to the new website as well?
Who is going to maintain the content and ensure standards are met?
Are they using an SEO analyst or someone with a knowledge of SEO techniques?
And on I went. By the time I finished, the associate threw his hands up in the air: ‘Look, I’m just a designer. This is a membership organisation and they don’t like spending money. I can see the value of having a content strategist, but they don’t and my job is to design the website not advise about content.’
Your website should be your wisest investment not your most expensive mistake
Another organisation had just had a website revamp. In all fairness, it was a beautiful website. The only problem was that it had been built without any regards for the SEO or the customer journey.
In addition, it was not a responsive design, so it did not render well on mobile devices. As a result, although the website was aesthetically beautiful, because it had not been optimised for search, nobody could find it. And even when they did, they had a sub-par user experience on the website, because when they accessed it from their mobile devices, the information architecture was so bad they couldn’t find anything. So they abandoned the website – in droves.
When I ran Ready Writer, my boutique content agency, sometimes, we would get calls from prospects. They wanted to revamp their website, but this time, they ‘wanted to do things properly, so can you [Ready Writer], help us, please? We’re holding off on the design until we get the content sorted.’
I use to love calls like this, because we got to work on a blank slate and in collaboration with the developer and marketer, the end result of which was a website that would continue to deliver returns for the client long after we’re gone.
At the other end of the spectrum were requests from prospects such as these: ‘The website is ready. Just give us the content.’
While we were happy to oblige, after all, content was what we did, there were times when this approach did not work. For example, supplying content for websites that had been inappropriately designed for their target audience. In some cases, the design was too busy and the navigation unwieldy, leaving their target customers confused and eventually abandoning their websites. And because they had used a custom-built content management system (CMS), they were stuck with the design as upgrading it would’ve been too costly.
What do content strategists do, really?
A content strategist’s job is to make sure that your content works hard for your business. To do this, they take on board your business needs, collaborate with you to set objectives to meet those needs, and then find out the best content type and online channels that will help you meet those objectives.
For some clients, this may mean repurposing their current content for a website revamp. For others, it may mean reviewing their digital output (yes, content is king, but is all that content you’re pumping out really the best way to get results for the business?). It could even be something as simple as developing a blog strategy (Download this template to find out how to write a blog in 60 mins).
In business, time is money and money spent on your content is $$$ well invested. Don’t go it alone; when it comes to content, sometimes it’s good to bring in the big guns – the content strategist.
Over to you: are you a content strategist? How do you explain the value of what you do to your prospects? Leave your comments below!
Also published on Medium.