Exploring Your Content Refresh

This is the part where everyone gets on the same page, and agrees on a few critical things for the site and the project. Because refreshing your site content can be a major undertaking, it’s crucial that everyone has an understanding of what’s we’re trying to achieve. 

For almost every website, the general goal is to have your information presented and organized in a way that people can easily find and understand it.

  • But how do you do that?
  • What is your site doing well or badly right now?
  • Who are you trying to reach, anyway?
  • What devices are they using to access your information?
  • What do they want from your site?
  • What might the site look like in the future?
  • Also, how are you going about making all these changes? 

These are important questions that this first phase needs to answer. The goal of this phase is to have a sketch in your mind of where you're heading, and an outline of how you'll get there.

Understanding Your Baseline

There is some information about your current site that you should know as you begin to set goals for a content refresh.

What is your most popular content now?

Your analytics reports will point to the most popular pages on your site.

What are the users saying?

Take a look at your site's feedback in Drupal, and any other communications you might have gotten from users.

What are your pain points?

What frustrates you and your colleagues about the site? Some of those may also be user frustrations, and some might be problems with the way you maintain your program.

Understanding your Audience

Basically, this is who is coming to your site and looking for your content. But, there’s a difference between people who can access your site, and those you want to visit it– your target audiences.

Difference between audiences and target audiences: Technically since every site can be accessed by everyone, the whole world is a possible audience. What we’re looking for is your target audience — the people you want and need to serve. It’s possible to have more than one, but if you have more than three, it becomes difficult to meet all their needs.

If several groups of people all have the same basic goals, they can be combined into one general audience.

What Does Your Target Audience Need?

There are probably a variety of things that each of your target audiences need when they access your site. This is a process of not only identifying the tasks, but prioritizing them.

Your site may be mostly for grantees, who need quick access to policies and guidance on how to run your program. You might also have information for advocacy groups, but there aren't as many of them, so their information may not need to be as prominent.

ACF Audiences

In general, all ACF sites have two main audiences — information seekers and practitioners.  Depending on the program, one or the other may be a larger target for the website

Audience

Sub-groups

Tasks

Information Seekers want to learn more about the office and its programs.

  • Press
  • Students/Researchers
  • Legislators at the federal or state level
  1. Find background information on a particular program
  2. Find current or past statistics on a program
  3. Understand how the program is working in their area

Practitioners are those who participate in the program’s mission-driven work, either as grantees or partners.

  • Grantees
  • Program Administrators
  1. Find funding opportunities
  2. Read polices relating to programs
  3. Understand upcoming changes

Creating a Conceptual Site Map

Based on your understanding of your audience and tasks, it’s sometimes helpful to make a general sitemap. This won’t be the final site structure — that will be developed later — but a general idea of how the site should be structured.

There are a few advantages to doing this now, and without studying the current site, but most importantly it lets you focus entirely on the goals of your audiences without being distracted by any old choices that were made.

Read more about sitemaps and information architecture.

Exercise: Naming Pages

Putting away laptops and not looking at the site, make a list of your site’s pages from memory.

Remember, this is page-level information — not categories. Each page should have a single, clear topic, and the page title should describe what the page is talking about.

Try answering this question:

If you needed to send someone a link to a single page to describe something that your office does, what would that page be called?

Ideally, this exercise is completed in person, and the pages are written on index cards or post-it notes, so they can be moved and organized later — we’ll refer to them as cards from here on out.

Here is an example of cards taken from the exercise done with the Office of Trafficking in Persons:

ten cards reading about this office, public awareness and outreach resources, furnding opportunities, resuce and restore regionaNote a few things about the cards:

  • All the titles are descriptive — they make it very clear what belongs on the page (About this Office rather than just About). This helps everyone remember what the page content is.
  • They’re all of similar reach — each one describes what could easily be contained on a page. Rather than Funding generally, it’s Funding Opportunities, which makes it clear that these are chances to get funding.

The participants can keep naming cards until everyone has run out of ideas.

At this point, participants can go back and look at the list of pages from the audit. Find any pages that are not represented by the cards. Are there any that cover information not represented by one of the cards? (This is an important distinction — the audit may have pages may have different names or organize information differently, but that same information may already be represented on one of the cards).

Once everyone is satisfied that the card list is complete, we can move on to organizing them.

Organizing the Pages

Looking at all the cards, which ones seem to belong together?

Clues for groups:

  • Similar words (program, initiative, grant)
  • Similar audiences (for grantees, for victims, for administrators)
  • Similar concepts (training, resources, information)

As cards start to fall into groups, those groups can get names — this will become the top level of your site’s navigation.

Things to consider:

  • The group titles should be simple and descriptive, and should clearly relate to ALL the pages underneath.

Look at other program offices’ websites for top navigation items. For consistency, mimic common categories — grants vs. funding, etc.

Here’s how the cards mentioned in the OTIP exercise ended up dividing into groups.

ten cards grouped into five categories - about, with about this office, local contacts, and accomplishments, resources with publAbout and Resources are required categories, and Grants was common terminology. Partnerships and Programs came about by describing the content of the pages that had been grouped together.

From all of this, you’ll have a general sense how your site can be organized. We’ll come back to this once the site audit is complete.

Setting Project Guidelines

This is also the time to get your project organized. Who needs to be involved? Who can make decisions?

All of this information can be collected in a project charter. See a template in the resource library.

The RACI Model

A key element to the entire process is identifying who needs to be involved, and to what degree.

  • Who is Responsible — who is actually doing the task?
  • Who is the Approver — who gives the go-ahead?
  • Who is Consulted — who reviews the information for accuracy/substance before approval?
  • Who is Informed — who is kept up to date on progress?

Different phases may need different people to be involved — but having a general idea of the personnel involved and their responsibilities helps the project run smoothly, and ensures that management knows what’s going on with their teams.

Sample Project Roles and Responsibilities

Role

Responsibilities

Project Lead - Communications

  • Maintain project schedule
  • Set timelines
  • Advise on best practices
  • Assist with site architecture
  • Assist with site build

Project Lead — Office

  • Track deliverables
    • Remind responsible parties, be POC for Comms
  • Maintain timelines

Content Lead — Office

  • Coordinate content development and vetting

UX Lead — Office

  • Recruit and manage participants for UX testing from inside and outside organization

Technical Build

  • Build of home page and basic site framework
  • Assistance with technical issues, additional page builds

Digital Consultation

  • Advise decisions related to site direction and continuity.

Content Consultation

  • Advise program office on messaging

Program Office Approver

  • Signs off on each major project milestone