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Content First - Part Two - Our Approach

The one thing web projects have at their heart is CONTENT, and in the second part of our Content First series we will discuss our approach to the content-first development process. Click here for Part 1Part 3 and Part 4.

Our Approach

Content First

From a big-picture perspective our general process for delivering websites is:

Discovery

We start by seeking an understanding of the relevant market (key trends, competitors, and positioning), business and marketing goals, and requirements (customer, business, content, and technical).

Design

Next, we use our understanding from the discovery phase to define a strategic response; the structure and relationship of data, content, and systems (information and solution architecture); wireframes and/or prototypes; and visual design.

Develop

With the requirements and design in place, we develop and test the website, provide training, and support user acceptance testing. We also support the creation and loading of full and final content in this phase. By the end of this phase, we are ready to go live.

Deliver

In this final phase, we deploy the website to live, collect and analyse interaction data, and then optimise the website to ensure that we deliver the agreed and any new business and marketing goals. So here delivery is not just about delivering the website. It is more about delivering the benefits of the website.

 

Process - The Important Parts

Content First

There should not be any surprises in our big-picture approach to delivering websites. Things start to become more important when we look at the detail within this process. The intention here is to give you something that you can start using or focusing on right now within your web projects.

From a content-first perspective, there are three important process areas to consider:

Content Requirements

This first step is the foundation for a successful content-first approach to website development so it is important that you cover this off for all web projects. You can scale this process to the size of the project and/or target audience, but skipping this step will introduce significant risk to your project and business.

Create a list of people that you will talk to so you can understand customer motivations and needs at each stage of their customer journey. When we say ‘motivations’, we mean what they want to achieve and why this is important. When we say ‘needs’, we mean content and functionality.

  1. In the end, needs comes down much more to content than functionality. Your list of people must include existing customers and people that have considered your products or services and either chosen not to buy or they went with an alternative supplier.
  2. Interview enough people to confirm patterns in motivations and needs at each stage of their customer journey. You will use these patterns to define content requirements and create your personas.
  3. Finally, you will want to check whether you have any customer needs that are out-of-scope or any orphan business or marketing goals. By out-of-scope needs, we are referring to customer needs that you do not or cannot provide; for example, pricing information.

By orphan business or marketing goals, we are referring to situations where you do not have any supporting customer information for a business need - such as wanting to target decision makers but you do not have any information or patterns for decision makers.

You need to clearly identify the out-of-scope needs and consider how you address these as part of your strategic response to the market needs (for example, you might develop a partnership to provide information that you cannot provide directly within your website). For the orphan business or marketing goals, you will need to complete more interviews to capture this information.

PRO TIP: We recommend that you do this with new people so that you do not introduce any bias from the interactions in your previous interviews.

At the completion of this process, you will have the following deliverables:

Personas

These clearly describe your target audience based on motivation and needs. It is important to note that this is not a demographic description of your customer categories. For example, by knowing that a persona is 24, male, and likes sports cars doesn't help you deliver content that helps them in their decision making process. To be able to create effective content, you need to create personas that directly support the development of customer journey maps and content requirements.

Customer Journey Maps

These illustrate, for each persona, the steps that they go through to become and successfully function as a customer.

Content Requirements

This is where the first piece of content gold sits. Here you need to define, the content each persona requires to address their specific needs at each step of their customer journey.

 

A Section Of An Agrichemical Customer's Content Requirements:

Below is an example content framework for a Agrichemical customer to highlight the key areas we have outlined…

JOURNEY STATE CUSTOMER's WORDS INSIGHT  CONTENT COMPONENT CONTENT ELEMENT
Researching Options When I am spending this sort of money, I need to know that the product will work as stated Customers require technical proof Case study - detail Title, field trial data, field trial commentary
  I trust my peers more than the sales story Customers require social proof Case study - detail Title, body text, on-site images, customer image, customer first-name, customer role, customer location, quote
      Case study - summary Title, customer image, customer first-name, customer role, quote
  I have been doing this a while now, so I like to know the chemistry behind the product - especially for new products Customers want detailed technical information Product detail Chemicals used, mode of action, concentrations, physical and chemical properties, stability, reactivity, taxicology, ecology
  Continues... .... .... ....

 

The Case Study - Detail Content Component:

CONTENT ELEMENT EXAMPLE
Title Pre-emergence soybean weed control increases bushel yield at harvest
Body Text Introduce farmer (2 sentences)
Define the problem that he faced with weed control (3 sentences)
State the product he used, how and when he applied it (2 sentences with a link to the product page)
State the three key results (2 headings, 3 x 4 sentences)
On-site Images 2 on-farm images with supporting commentary (2 images, 2 x 2 sentences)
Customer Image Farmer image
Customer First Name John
Customer Role Farm manager
Customer Location Canterbury

Personalisation Opportunities

By overlaying customer journeys, you will also be able to identify the personalisation opportunities for each persona.

The critical aspect of this process is that you are using direct insight from customers to define the content requirements for your site. That is, you are not making this stuff up based on your perceived knowledge of your customers.

Conclusion

As you can see why taking a content first approach to websites your customers become the focus on the site and your team has more time to prepare relevant content before the go-live crazy period. To download our whitepaper about Content First websites please click here.