Are you considering improving your program office’s website? Overhauling your site doesn’t mean just taking your content from one section and putting it in another. It’s a process of looking at your site, mapping it out, updating your content with a “mobile-first” mindset, and building the pages to suit the content.
The Process – An Overview
We break down the process of beginning a "mobile-first" content overhaul into five stages:
Exploring is the process of setting up the framework for WHY you’re doing this. Who is your target audience? What are their top tasks? What do you need the site to do? What devices are they using to access information? This is also the time to set up the framework of the project — who is involved, who needs to see changes, and who approves the work.
The audit phase has you look at all of the content currently on the site. You will evaluate each page for accuracy, uniqueness, completeness and style. Based on this review, each page is given a status, which will help guide the creation stage.
Planning is about creating the site architecture. Now that you know what’s there, you figure out how to best organize it in a way your users will understand.
With your audit and plan in hand, it’s time to create and update existing content. Content is updated or written from scratch, and all the assets that go with it (documents, images) are mapped out.
At the same time, the build sets up the framework of each page. It makes sure the architecture is working the way we planned, adding all the content elements that belong on the page — navigation, things on the right, left, and footer, all that stuff. It brings the content and the site together.
Think of this process as a whole home renovation.
When you’re Exploring, you’re sketching, looking at photos and thinking of your ideal home improvements. You’re also considering who will be involved — architects, contractors, plumbers, etc.
You look at the house — maybe the whole first floor is ok, maybe it needs to be taken down to the studs, or further to the foundation. Maybe there’s some furniture inside you want to keep, or that can be reupholstered. Your Audit gives you the full picture of what you’re working with.
The Planning phase is making the new blueprints. It works out where all the rooms are. Which ones need plumbing? Which ones need bigger doors, windows? We haven’t built anything yet — but we basically know where everything belongs.
Developing Content and Build go hand in hand. The Build puts up the drywall, hangs on doors. If you walked in the front door, you’d be able to move room to room, maybe you know what they were going to be...but it isn’t really a home.
Developing Content is filling the house. You’re buying the furniture. Making sure the kitchen appliances all work together. You’re picking out the art to hang on the walls. This fills out the rooms and makes the house a home.
You can’t move in the furniture until the walls are done. But you also can’t live there until the furniture is in.
One more aspect of the house analogy — think of how much harder it is to add another room to an already-build house than it would be to account for that room when the house is being built. We’re completing the house now — it’s important to think what your site will need to do not just now, but for some time into the future.