Content management: The first step is the easiest, right? | Synigo Pulse
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24-09-2018 Written by Nelleke de Jong

Content management: The first step is the easiest, right?

So here you are: you’re a content manager, intranet manager, copywriter, web coordinator or whatever they have called your content function. You have just had a new website, social intranet or digital workspace with a state-of-the-art content management system (CMS) tossed on your plate. So all your content problems will be a thing of the past. So they say.

Putting the right content in the right place

Your supplier has made the front page super intuitive, so the future looks bright. So the same people say. And they are often right, you know: Your website is improved, your intranet is more organized – on the drawing board, in any case. If everything goes according to plan, your new fleet has been designed in line with the user experience, so it’s full speed ahead for putting the right content in the right place with the right accent. All eyes are on you to fill this beautiful new site or portal with captivating and engaging content. The expectations are sky-high. Now that the draft is ready, the organization thinks that ‘it’s only a matter of filling in the blanks’. “It’s ready next week, right?”

Whether you are a seasoned content specialist or a trainee approaching your first copy-writing assignment with hot-of-the-press knowledge of writing content: in all cases, a new CMS and new front door means a new way of thinking about how information is offered. Of course you’re really into it because of all the nice promises and the chance for ‘communication that speaks to you’, but the daily information flow also just keeps coming and now you have to make time to put your house in order for the new way of presenting information. That’s not so easy to do, I hear you thinking. And you’re right. Because let’s be honest: it is a lot of work.

Making small steps

The saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” has been hanging on the wall at your favorite snack bar for some time and now this also applies to your work.

But there’s good news. You can do it step by step and prepare yourself before your new website or (social) intranet has to go online. Many steps must be taken, but each step in and of itself is not so difficult. If you work in the correct order, make time for it and find content enjoyable, everything will work out fine.

Management thinks that it’s only a matter of filling in the blanks. It’s ready next week, right? Nelleke de Jong

But where do you start? “With the user, of course,” you say and that is certainly an obvious choice. After all, everything you do in terms of content, you do for the user. But I suggest that instead of first looking through the eyes of your target group, you start with yourself. Because you are an important first yardstick by which everything is measured. Nothing can be easier; now it’s your turn. But what must you not be afraid to do? Be critical of what you and your colleagues have ever put online. Use your old work to make your new work user-focused.

Sorting intranet texts is similar to doing the laundry

Sorting intranet texts is similar to doing the laundry

An easy first step, start sorting

Take your old website or intranet and sort it intuitively.

  • If you ask yourself “What is this text doing here?”, note it on a Post-it and put it in a box called ‘illogical location’.
  • Did you expect a clear instruction but instead you had to read the text three times? Make a note this and put it in the ‘written too difficultly’ container.
  • To the contrary: have you just felt you are smartly addressed and the text reads smoothly? Note that too and put it in the folder called ‘the user is understood’.
  • Do you doubt whether something is up to date? Classify it in the category ‘seems like outdated info’. You don’t have to decide now whether this content should be deleted; that will come in a later step.
  • If the text tempts you to take action, classify it as ‘good call to action’.
  • If you give up because you no longer see the forest for the trees, put that also in the ‘illogical location’ box or even create a new category called ‘mess’.
  • In this way, think of different categories that give you as user the feeling that you are either served well or ignored. Don’t go exhaustively through all the pages of your website. Your only objective is to get an idea of what works well and what doesn’t.

After an hour of selecting (and if you just can’t resist being thorough, after 2 hours), put all doubtful categories to the right and the engaging ones to the left. Just look at it. Take a good look and store it away. Here you have a good start and thus half the battle. Your content strategy is now half done.

The first step is the easiest.

The Dutch version of "All begin is makkelijk Contentmanagement deel 1 | Sorteren" can be downloaded here or read on Linkedin

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