Design and Build It, Maybe Even Launch It One Day

, Friday, May 6th, 2011

A common occurrence in our web development work is that we finish the design, development, and deployment on time, but once we close in on the official launch date, things become delayed as the client continues to revise and add to the website’s content. This happens even when we get them started working on the content extremely early in the process. These content delays usually happen for one of two reasons (or a combination):

  1. Underestimating the time and effort it takes to revisit and augment a new or existing website’s content pool. Procrastination is a close cousin to this, as a major website redesign requires significant attention to a myriad of other aspects of the process, and content is extremely easy to put on the back burner.
  2. Once the content begins to be entered into the CMS and take form within the context of the website design and structures, it becomes evident that what worked well in a Word, PowerPoint, or Excel file just does not fit well on the website. This leads to late stage revisions to the content, and sometimes even to page and content structures in the CMS.

While we try to combat the first causative factor by discussing content early, helping with content planning sheets, and pushing them throughout the process, ultimately it is up to the client to begin early and maintain progress. Regular, gentle reminders can devolve into counterproductive nagging rapidly.

The second issue can be ameliorated by trying to get solid samples of each content type early, and incorporating them into the wireframes (and even into design comps) to see what they will really look like when realized on the website. We also share best practices and advice on how to best make the client’s content work on the web.

In addition to those two legitimate issues, there is an unnecessary third – the misperception that all content must be in place and in pristine condition before a website can launch. That is simply not the case. Sure, you need to have all the major sections fleshed out to a certain point, and the content that is there must look decent and properly convey information. But, not every single individual piece of content must be in place at launch, and additional wordsmithing can continue after the website launches as long as the information is in a comprehensible form.

After all, one of the major purposes of a CMS is to make editing, creating, re-using, and re-contexting content quick and easy. A website is intended to grow and evolve, and it is in fact expected to do so by audiences. A lack of change is a signal to visitors that there is no reason to come back to a website. It is important not to lose track of this during the mad rush to perfection that often occurs during the content entry phase of a redesign project.

One Response to “Design and Build It, Maybe Even Launch It One Day”

  1. What’s New in ePhilanthropy | Nonprofit Bridge Says:

    [...] a new website?  Beaconfire reminds us to pay attention to content early, and to incorporate content into the wireframes.  Techsoup also provides this overview into the redesign process. Big Duck suggests we put someone [...]