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Icon or Spacer Macromedia Website Production Management Techniques Phase 3: Structure
Content

Content and structure go hand in hand—you cannot create one without defining the other. Establishing content organization during the site structure phase creates the backbone for the entire developmental process. It is important that content be organized and defined as early as possible. Often the client has already performed a content audit (especially if the site is a redesign) and has determined how they think the site should be organized. It is important to assign or hire a content manager—someone to manage and oversee content development. This person is usually a copy writer, or someone familiar with writing for the Web. Integration of content and structure and timely delivery of content and assets during the development process will ensure the project's success.

 
Content Audit
A guide to prioritizing and outlining content step by step to determine what text, imagery and other information will be used for the site.
 

Outlining Content
The client will need to supply a detailed outline of their desires for the site's anticipated contents. This task is something that should be started very early in the development process. The client should determine content needs or requirements, with assistance and modification by the development team as appropriate. To assist the client in conceptualizing the content that will exist on the site, encourage the client to think in terms of major goals for the project. If the main purpose of the site is to educate consumers about products, then take that as a starting point. Focus the content around the business goals. By picking a primary mission for the content, the client can then begin to organize the content to service that goal. Many clients think of content organization like library categories, or in terms of how the company internally thinks of its own information generation, or even in terms of how the company itself is organized. Watch out for this pitfall! Keep the client focused on the purpose for creating the site in the first place, and organize the content around that goal.

Start by dividing the content into main sections, and begin to think about primary and secondary importance. Create a content outline—the regular roman numerated version—which outlines the hierarchy and importance of key sections. This outline can be modified prior to the structuring stage. However, once site map creation and screen schematic development is started the outline should usually be set and approved by the client. Sketches of the home page and main screen layouts might also accompany the content outline, as it is difficult to show every piece of necessary content in an outline format.

 

Creating a Content Delivery Plan
It is important to clarify when content is due in rough and final form, and also to determine readiness. Is it a direct lift from an existing brochure? A content delivery plan outlines each page or section in a phased delivery process—existing, revamped, and new content alike. Responsibility is assigned for copy, images, assets and other necessary elements. Content truth: content will inevitably be late, but this plan will help. The content delivery plan should include primary content (text, images, media, marketing messages), secondary content (error messaging, forms and search keywords if applicable), and production-specific content or invisible content (meta tags, alt tags, title tags, etc.). List items according to reference/numeric identification from the site map.

 
Content Truth
No matter how organized both you and the client are, the content will inevitably arrive late. Receiving final content from the client on schedule is perhaps the most predictable bottleneck for any project. Clients often have an unrealistic view of the task. Content will be late. Plan for it.
 
Invisible Content

Invisible content is the content that is not readily apparent. It is the META tags for the site, the TITLE tags for each section and individual pages, and the ALT tags for navigation, graphics and other non-text items. Keep accessibility in mind—enabling disabled (physically and technologically) users to view and read the site.

 

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