Redesigning information-rich sites part 4: Rewrite your content

  • By Kathy Wagner
  • |
  • Mar 4 2019
Categories: |Toolbox

Redesigning information-rich sites

In this series, you’ll learn the most important steps you can take to help you successfully redesign an information-rich site—one that has hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of pages of content.

This is step 4. Here’s an overview of the series:

Step 1: Reduce your content
Step 2: Reorganize your content
Step 3: Restructure your content
Step 4: Rewrite your content

Step 4: Rewrite your content

I don’t understand why organizations spend so much money and resources on redesigning their large sites and bringing in a new technology, and then have no time or budget to actually rewrite the content to make it effective. It’s where the redesign process falls apart in most organizations.

We did a site redesign a while ago for a large telecom company. The goal was to improve the customer self-service content in order to reduce customer support calls. While there was an improvement in the findability of content after reducing, reorganizing, and restructuring, it wasn’t until the newly rewritten content was published that they saw a 50% reduction in customer service calls from people visiting those pages.

Here are three things to consider when planning your content rewrites:

1. Hire the right writing team for the job.

Different writing styles require different writing skill sets. People with a technical writing background might be best for a knowledge centre or customer support site, while marketing and product writers may be best for an ecommerce site. Always make sure there’s an experienced managing editor to oversee things, and if you’re dealing with highly structured content, make sure your writing team is familiar with structured writing.

2. Don’t underestimate the time and budget needed.

Even after reducing content substantially, you’re going to have a lot of content to rewrite. This isn’t something that your staff can tackle off the side of their desk along with their regular workload. If you have thousands of pages to rewrite, you’ll need a dedicated team of writers for a number of months.

3. Take a phased approach.

You don’t need to rewrite and publish every page of content at once. Focus on the highest-priority of content first, and then keep working through the rest. Sometimes it makes sense to tackle things section by section

Of course, redesigning an information-rich site is never quick and easy, and neither are the steps above. There’s a lot of details to unpack along the way. But if you keep these essential steps in mind, and work through them in a methodical and user-focused way, you’re much more likely to have a successful site that people can rely on and enjoy using.

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