Jan 20, 2010 by Lindsay Gower
Time to freshen up your web site? I’ve just finished updating mine! I’m delighted with the new and improved Blue Ribbon Writing.Com but-whew!-getting it done was a challenge. Oh, MB/I did a sterling job on the design and production. My challenge was with the content. And I was the writer.
I write Web site content professionally but preparing my own was an eye-opening experience. Now that I’ve been my own customer, I offer you three pieces of advice as you work on your site:
Know Thyself. If you are planning to write your site content yourself, please sit in front of your calendar (and mirror) right now. When will you write the content? You have customer appointments, you have networking events, you have football playoffs to watch-you have your job. Be frank and admit that certain tasks and opportunities will bump “Write Web content” to the bottom of your To-Do list.
It happened to me. I always prioritized “Client work” over “Write Web content.” Truth to tell, that wasn’t always necessary, but that’s the choice most of us make. Given my profession, I wasn’t going to hire out the writing of my web site, but by not getting the writing done, my launch date kept slipping.
If you write your web content it will take weeks to finish it. (I’m assuming you want at least B+ quality content. You can scribble down C- stuff in less time.) I’m not saying it is wrong to take weeks or months. I’m saying be realistic about it. Know yourself, so you can decide to either (1) Hire a writer to get it done quickly or (2) Set a realistic schedule.
Read the Road Map. To get to your destination, start by marking the route. Before I wrote a word of content, I put together a map showing my main pages and secondary pages, and what linked to where. (I use MindManager but you could use PowerPoint, or pencil and paper).
Mapping it out helped me refine what pages I truly needed and their relationship to each other. I gave a copy of the map to MB/I to help them with the design and the programming of my site.
After you make the map, read it! While writing the content, I checked my map regularly-and sometimes found I’d zigged, not zagged. Thanks to having a map to consult, I avoided some nasty potholes en route to my spot on the World Wide Web.
Have friends. The honest ones are best, especially if they are also kind. I’ve had two friends review my site map, the design, and the content. One of them is my business coach (yes, I pay her, but she is honest and kind). The other is my younger brother (I save money there). Their feedback was essential throughout. Mostly, it’s been positive but they haven’t been shy about disputing some of my choices.
For instance, on the first design round, my brother asked “What’s that?” about a photo on the home page. “It’s a typewriter!” I replied honestly if not quite kindly. But Jamie challenged typewriters as a metaphor for writers in the 21st century: although disappointed, I saw his point. But the MB/I team came up with an image I like even better!
Friendly feedback helped me improve my site. MB/I’s design, production and CMS helped me improve my site. Me finally getting the content written helped me improve my site. I hope my three points of advise can help you improve yours.