When it comes to a website project, be it a new site, new section of a current site, or redesign of an existing site, there will be various stakeholders involved with their own agendas and priorities for what content is created, published and given prominence.
Politics around content can be challenging to manage and it is hard to say no, especially when multiple content requirements meet business goals and user needs. How do you decide between a dozen great ideas? This article offers some practical techniques for prioritising website content.
Prioritising Content Collaboratively
Engaging stakeholders will be key to managing expectations, building relationships and allowing all concerned to voice their opinions. Running a workshop, or even organising a well planned meeting, can put all of the content requirements on the table (or the wall using sticky notes if a practical session). Here’s a suggested agenda from GatherContent’s content production planning guide:
Invite the project’s content team (that get a say in what to prioritise)
Print off and stick up your sitemap / list of potential content pages and assets
Does this content directly support the communication goals for the target audience?
Is this content unique to this site? (There is little value in generic content)
Does it need lots of effort to produce? Will it be difficult to maintain?
By the end of this session, all those involved will have had chance to share their priorities and put the case forward for why some content should take priority over other content. This should all be discussed with the business goals, user needs and target audience in mind. It’s also worth emphasising that quality trumps quantity when it comes to content.
A workshop or meeting like this is the perfect opportunity for using a dot voting process.
This technique works well when the list of content, or pages of a website, are written on post-it-notes and stuck on the wall for all involved to see. Stakeholders can then put 1 to 3 (or 3 to 5) dots against each page/piece of content; the more dots, the higher the priority.
This technique works well for assessing priorities across multiple agendas and departments (depending on which stakeholders attend) and provides a good high-level of all priorities.
It also gives every stakeholder chance to share their priorities, but all content is then assessed with wider business goals and needs in mind. Having an interactive task may increase engagement from stakeholders too.
The MoSCoW Method
The MoSCoW method requires that whatever is being prioritised is categorised as one of the following:
We Won’t … produce this piece of content for the site launch.
By having all owned content listed in an inventory (usually a spreadsheet) it is easy to assign a category to each piece of content and then filter by each of the four variables that makes up the MoSCoW method.
Content owners can then be assigned to each piece of content too, along with deadlines for production.
Determining whether each content requirement is Must/Should/Could/Won’t will once again depend upon business goals and user needs but there are other considerations to be made too such as:
The length of the project may determine how much content can be created within the schedule.
Some content ideas may be outside of the agreed project scope. Those ideas either need to be rolled out in additional phases after the main project launch, or if they are marked as a must do priority, perhaps other content will need to be “downgraded” in priority to accommodate this.
It’s no surprise that what content can be produced, and by when, is often dependent on the resources available. Time, money and people will influence what content can be committed to.
Including additional factors in the decision-making process, such as effort, is a key factor for another prioritisation technique.
These four factors can be discussed in relation to website content too. It’s a technique recently used for a project at GatherContent. Each of the four factors were given a score out of ten and it was easy to determine what content would take the most effort, reach the most people, have the biggest impact and how confident we felt about all of this.
The beauty of a technique like RICE is that it can guide teams in their prioritisation discussions, but can also be adapted to suit differing needs. Perhaps content is given a percentage or a score out of ten, for example. There is still an element of gut reaction, existing understanding and influence from previous experience but RICE really does force teams to think about content in relation to four crucial factors.
Understanding what audience (who, where, how, size) a piece of content will be targeting can influence how much of a priority it may be. It may be decided that as many people as possible is a big win or a smaller but more quantified and relevant audience is the goal.
This can be trickier to validate before publishing, but it does prompt useful discussions around what impact a piece of content might have. An example would be, if a help centre article is published, the impact may be fewer support tickets raised about a certain topic or task.
Confidence is a tough factor to gauge and tricky to facilitate a balanced conversation around. Yet confidence is key because if there is very little of it in a piece of content successfully reaching the audience, making an impact and being produced with a manageable amount of effort, then it should be considered a low priority. Teams must consider their available resources, project scope and timeline when thinking about confidence as part of this technique.
Estimating the effort to get content produced can be an ambiguous task, but it is an estimate rather than an actual quantity of time or money. It’s not just about getting content produced either; the distribution, measurement and governance of that content may also need to be taken into consideration.
The RICE method facilitates a well-rounded discussion and forces website project teams to answer some tricky questions, but the outcome will be a clear view of what is feasible and essential for launching the website at hand.
Better Content For All
It’s easy to get excited as website projects kick-off and when lots of stakeholders are involved, the request for content can be overwhelming, with conflicting priorities.
Adopting a structured technique to prioritising content will ensure content production and delivery is realistic in relation to project scopes, expectations can be managed in-line with available resources and business goals and user needs remain a focus as content is discussed and prioritised. This results in better content for audiences and time is focused on what is needed rather than being wasted on discussing, planning and producing low priority content.