Don't let your hard work go to waste. Put in place a ContentOps system for content governance and to help you produce high-quality content at scale.
Congrats! You’ve slogged for months over the new website and now, it’s finally “live”. The sad truth, however, is that by Day 2, your content will start to deteriorate if you hadn’t planned how you’ll sustain and continuously improve your website.
Most people get so fixated on launching a website that they fail to discuss the more tedious yet important topic of how future content will be created, maintained and optimised.
At PebbleRoad, our work goes beyond designing websites and apps for clients. While some design agencies “launch and forget” their clients’ websites, we never do. As soon as we embark on projects, we nudge our clients to think about the long term. In essence, we encourage them to shift their mindset from production in the present to quality control in the future, in order to ensure their website's or app’s longevity.
We do this by introducing a system known as “Content Operations” that could help them to create effective content at scale.
Simply put, Content Operations (ContentOps) is a system that brings your content strategy to life.
Just as DesignOps refers to the “orchestration and optimisation of people, processes, and craft in order to amplify design’s value and impact at scale” (Source: Nielsen Norman Group), ContentOps refers to “the combination of people, process and technology that are required to produce, distribute and maintain content in an organisation” (Source: Gathercontent).
ContentOps includes content governance to ensure future content meets the agreed standards. Content governance enables organisations to create and publish content in a predictable, repeatable and sustainable process, and to a set of standards.
Here are some key elements we highlight and discuss with clients whenever we embark on a project involving content:
Content is like a garden that requires constant care so that it remains up-to-date and effective. That’s why we always urge our clients to invest in an internal team, so that they can uphold content standards even after we leave.
It’s important to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of this team. Here are some common roles you may need:
Most clients lean towards either a centralised or distributed publishing model. To balance practical constraints while striving towards consistent and quality content, we usually recommend the hybrid approach:
Next, we encourage clients to define and document workflows across the content lifecycle. If workflows are left undefined, it becomes difficult to keep track of the number of content changes required in the future, and projects can get stuck.
Moreover, people involved in the content process may be unsure of their responsibilities or unaware of the effort required to complete a certain piece of content.
A defined content workflow tells people in all roles where the content is in the process when their turn comes, and it clarifies what they must do to deliver what’s needed when it’s needed.
For the content team, a well-defined content workflow helps to:
More importantly, it helps ContentOps Managers to recognise bottlenecks so that they can take measures to keep content moving toward production.
Once we’ve got the flows done, we tackle the guidelines and policies. Having a central set of content production guidelines ensures that content is consistent across teams and channels. For example, what format and template to use for different content types. This is especially useful for the hybrid and distributed models of working.
We typically help clients to create a toolkit with the following components:
In most cases, the project’s working team eventually assumes the role of the core team. Their involvement throughout the project equips them with the experience to:
Once the content strategy, process and guidelines of the website/app have been defined, it’s essential to communicate this to the rest of the organisation so everyone (not just the core team) is aware that there is now a system in place to create and maintain high quality content for the website.
For example, our client from the Ministry of Education (MOE) developed a Content Design Workshop with us to train MOE’s content owners in writing for the web. This hands-on workshop included:
After this pilot workshop by PebbleRoad, the client team rolled out “Train the Trainer” workshops to more content owners in MOE.
There is a dizzying array of tech tools and platforms out there to help teams work more seamlessly in order to produce content at scale.
Before diving into products and comparisons, you need to have a clear idea of what you want the tech stack to do, what technologies will help you achieve it and how it will scale over time. We help our clients think through their requirements and consider their existing tech before advising them on what they can invest in.
For example, a tech stack for a product website could include the following:
When the elements described above come together, it becomes easier to create and publish content on a more sustainable basis. However, we won’t know how effective our efforts have been unless we measure them.
So be sure to establish a few relevant KPIs at the start. For instance, a governance metric would track if all pages have an engaged owner who is updating and reviewing content for gaps regularly. An engagement metric would monitor if support pages are being rated helpful or very helpful by users. Such indicators give the web team a sense of whether the content they publish is useful and relevant.
Getting clients to see the value in setting up teams, creating guidelines and workflows, and getting their people trained might seem a little daunting. But we have had clients who have successfully formed in-house teams to take charge of their own content.
The key is to help clients shift from a project mindset (which focuses on creating and launching new products), to a product mindset, which focuses on taking ownership of a product to make constant improvements.
The Customer Experience Team at the Ministry of Education team, for instance, is a great example. They picked up design thinking, interaction design and content design through a two-year co-sourcing experience with us.
If you are keen to explore introducing ContentOps to your organisation, do get in touch with us at email@example.com.
This article was written collaboratively with inputs from the Content Strategy team at PebbleRoad.