Heading into content prep, it's good to know that this will be the bulk of your work. So be prepared to spend a lot of time going through the steps on this page.
As you go, remember that creating content isn't always linear. Along the way you might need to adjust your architecture, change your formatting, and collect new information that you hadn't thought of the first time around.
And although the process can at times seem tedious, we're here to tell you that it works—so try your best to stick with it!
Expand your master grid.
The master grid will be your guide for the rest of the process. It outlines all of the pages you need to prepare for your site and their current status.
The good news is that Web Services has already started your grid! It's your IA grid that we've set up for you in Google docs.
Your next step:
Map out these items on your grid for each page of your new site. See a sample content grid (xls).
- Page title
- System name
- Where the source content is coming from - this could be an old webpage or a person or a print piece.
- Who is responsible for getting the content from the source using templates you'll create in the next step.
- When the approved content is due to you.
Learn about your template options.
There are 2 main templates you'll use for the bulk of your content.
Full with navigation:
60/40 with title:
The "full with navigation" template lets you flow the body of your content in one main column where as the "60/40 with title" template breaks the body area into 2 columns: A large middle column and a smaller right column used to feature related information.
Now that you're familiar with these 2 templates, it's time to start putting together your content using Microsoft Word.
When you're done with this process, you'll have all of your webpages ready to go, each as its own Word doc. Here are 2 templates to get you started:
Create Word templates for each page.
Looking at your architecture, move though the pages within each level 1 category and think about the kind of information that will be there and how it might be formatted.
Determine 2 things for each page:
- Which of the above templates should be used. If you have a page that you think requires a unique template, contact Web Services.
- How the page should be formatted using headings. For example, if you have 5 webpages that highlight each of your services, you'll want to come up with a consistent set of headings.
Then, create a word doc using the above templates as a starting place for each webpage. See the Arden Hills Zoo page template (doc) for the Our Animals category. Every page in that category contains the same headers and page formatting to make the experience consistent for web visitors. This ensures you gather the right things for each page from your sources.
Naming word docs. We find it best to name your word docs according to your page system names. You can separate folders with an underscore and words in a system name with a hyphen. (e.g. about-us_mission, contact_visit-team)
Gather your content.
Get all your content together using your Word doc templates.
- If you're responsible for gathering content for a page:
- If someone else on your team is responsible for a page:
- Send that word doc to them and have them fill it out with the information. You'll likely want to include headers or questions so they know exactly what kind of information you're looking for. See a sample template.
- Set a due date for when you need it back.
- When it comes back to you, review the page and adjust according to web writing standards and search engine optimization best practices.
Along the way, track the status of content on your grid so you can know where all your pages are in the process at any given time. See the process in pictures for an example of how to track the status.
Get in touch with Web Services for images, files, and web forms.
If you plan to use images or other files, your next step is to learn about what you should do to get images and files ready for the web.
If you plan to use web forms to capture info from your visitors, you can make a form request at any time.
Get your content web ready.
Go through your Word docs and make sure nothing is missing. See a sample of a completed Word doc (doc).
- Page title
- System name
- Description (Huh? What's this?)
- Body content
- Specific directions for body content (what's a heading, what's a link, etc)
- Side content
- Any additional assets needed for the page, like a pdf or excel file.
Load all Word docs to Google docs.
If you created your pages in Word, load them all to Google docs and share them with email@example.com. We'll take a look at them and give you some suggestions if needed. Our turn around time will vary based on the size of your site and the amount of content you have, but the average is about 2 weeks.
Once you have the okay, you can sign up for Cascade training!
You're done prepping your content.