As a web designer whose tended to my fair share of website projects, the main reason for a missed site launch deadline often comes down to a delay in content gathering, creation and curation – or a lack of adherence to an agreed upon content gathering timeline.
Companies and organizations usually select a point person to be the “content shepherd”- this might mean writing the content themselves, extracting information from subject matter experts or simply requesting that fellow co-workers type up a word document and throw it with some images on a network drive somewhere.
While this is often necessary for small businesses on a limited project budget, larger companies should strongly consider using project management and web content experts to produce quality content on a solid project timeline.
Some of the problems with the “go it alone” approach:
The website is a low-priority
Quite often, the content shepherd, as an existing employee- already has work obligations within the company on a daily basis. Understandably, gathering content for a website isn’t at the top of the priority list and it probably shouldn’t be. An overworked employee may not be able to adhere to an agreed project schedule for a successful on-time launch.
The “gatherer” isn’t a website or digital specialist
The “contact shepherd” is an expert at what they do for the organization, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an expert at writing and curating content for the web (with SEO considerations) or holding content contributors to a timeline (in addition to managing their usual day to day work obligations).
The “Phase 2” trap
With content management systems becoming more and more popular, the idea of “Phase 2” (or, we’ll post that page/information later on) becomes an attractive fallback when a subject matter expert (or that guy in accounting) hasn’t had time to contribute important content to the project. Unfortunately, this means that pages might not be ready at launch time and will have to wait until “phase 2” for publication. Phase 2 then becomes less and less important and may take months to get posted (if at all).
The “Phase 2” approach isn’t all bad however. There will be times when an additional application, supporting software, policy or an upcoming marketing campaign simply won’t be ready in time for launch. This is understandable, however, established products and service offerings should be made available at launch time
Without a project manager handling reminders and keeping the integrity of the project transparent and on schedule, the content gatherer often waits until the last minute to gather or refine content for the website. This can have a serious impact on the quality and readability of the content that eventually gets posted. Not to mention the content’s SEO considerations.
These are just a few of the pitfalls of “going it alone” in the new website or web re-design process. If the budget is there and you’d like your website positioned for optimal readability and search engine ranking, it’s best to have a project manager shepherding the content process. Bonus points for getting a content writer involved as well.