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In Web Site Strategy and Planning, Jen Kramer shows that there’s more to building a web site than just implementation. She describes how to create a plan that will ensure the end product meets the client’s needs and is as efficient and scalable as possible. Jen explains how to identify the right technology for the design, whether it is CMS-driven or static, and how to organize content and graphics. She shows how to create a project proposal that includes pricing and milestones that demonstrate to the client that work is being done. She also discusses how to measure the success of the design through analytics and user feedback.
If this is a redesign project, look at the content on the current website. What is Redundant, Outdated or Trivial? Or ROT? What is good content? What is missing? And is that missing stuff represented in the Site Map that you just developed with your client? It may be possible to recycle some of this content into the new website. It's very easy for websites to get hopelessly outdated. Over the life of a website, employees come and go, messages are repeated in various places on the website, but not quite in the same way.
Things are forgotten and the site overall slips in quality. A redesign is a great time to reevaluate what's on the current site. Some people are initially inclined to throw away 100% of the content and condemn their old site as horrible. While others just want to recycle everything. The truth is usually somewhere in the middle. It's better to evaluate what's on the site and see what can be salvaged. It saves time and money and the evaluation doesn't take that long.
When looking for ROT, here's what to look for. First, look for Redundant content. That's anything that's repeated on the website. That could be entire pages of information or saying the same thing over and over again. Say your message once in one location and link to it from everywhere else for ease of maintenance. That's one of the big advantages of a Content Management System, which allows you to do this quite easily. Outdated content.
Content does get old and it should be removed. Identify services and products the company no longer offers and remove them. You may want to pull old press releases as well. Typically, organizations do not need to keep those press releases on the website past a year or two, unless there's a compelling strategic reason to do otherwise. And the Trivial. Steve Krug, in his terrific book Don't Make Me think, says that happy talk must die.
Things like, "Welcome to our website!" are just wastes of words. Of course you're welcome to the website. Strip out all of that happy talk and keep the content to the business in hand. Respect your visitor's time and give them just what they need. Evaluating your website for ROT, Redundant, Outdated, and Trivial content, doesn't take very long and you may find some gems of content to include on your new website.
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