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Map people to content during a website project. ASAP!

Liam King

The production of content for a new or refreshed website puts extra responsibility and pressure on your people. And lots of it.

A common mistake is to underestimate and badly communicate the required time and effort for the subject matter experts (SMEs) at various stages of the content production process:

  1. producing page briefs
  2. writing content (if they are tasked to do this)
  3. reviewing drafts for accuracy and messaging

See Stop underestimating content production for web projects for more content production workflow stages.

SMEs frequently become a bottleneck, and inevitably delay the production of content and the launch of the site.

It can also threaten the longer-term success of the site as the SME’s sour experience during the project disengages them from the ongoing governance of the site’s content. I would argue this is the most serious risk.

Then what's the solution?

 

Map content to SMEs (and do it early!) 

Do this as soon as you have a grasp on the broad topic areas you expect to cover on the site. That should be pretty early.

Don’t worry about assigning ownership of individual pages yet (you won’t know what they are at this point anyway). 

STEP 1. List out the high-level content topics and themes. Post it notes work well (as always). Here's an example for a school website:

STEP 2. (Try to) assign the name or role of the person or people that will act as the SME for each content topic (a name is always best). Nominate someone who is:

  • authoritative
  • knowledgable
  • has formal or informal responsibility for the communication of that topic

STEP 3. Stand back and ask these questions:

Do any topic areas lack a nominated SME?

Action: This is a red flag for the Project Manager and co. to identify that person. If there are no obvious candidates consider if your site should even be covering that topic area!?

Is the same name coming up again and again?

Action: Red flag for the PM to add to the risk log because they are a project bottleneck waiting to happen. Is there anyone else to share the load? Does this person need support with their other work to deliver their project responsibilities?

Are the SMEs aware of the project and their (upcoming) responsibility?

Action: Make them aware ASAP and set their expectations of what’s involved, likely timeframes and effort. Speak to their managers too so they can plan for the work.

Are any of the SMEs outside of your organisation?

Action: It is harder to influence these people and extra stakeholder management (and love) is often required.

 

Related content production planning posts...

Stop underestimating content production for web projects

 

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