Katy Franzen is a Principal Consultant at Clarity Partners. Much of her project work focuses on project management, content strategy, quality assurance, and user acceptance testing. In this Part 3 of this three-part series, Katy identifies the ways in which you can customize your content matrix to align with project requirements, best practices, and why the extra effort is totally worth it.
The tools with which we organize site content are arguably more important than the content itself. Sure, having quality content is great, but if it’s not in the right place at the right time on your website, it doesn’t really matter. Yes, the content matrix will safeguard you from this. But taking it a step further – tailoring that matrix to your project requirements – can help you manage your content seamlessly and almost without fail.
Part 3 Outline
- Building Out a Bespoke Matrix
- It’s All About Balance
Here are some custom option examples that Clarity uses to customize a matrix based on specific scenarios that may occur during a project.
Automation takes all the guesswork out of any part of the organizational process. This would require adding names and emails to the content matrix as well as events that would trigger communications to be sent. Rather than a manual process that is controlled outside of the content matrix, building in automation and workflows can improve efficiency by sending emails/notices directly from the tracking tool. Notifications could be set up to inform your team when content has been assigned, when due dates are approaching, or when status updates are requested. Automating communications is best to decide and approach upfront or as soon as possible. It can be time intensive but be open to adjustments as you gather feedback from recipients of these notices. You can then fine tune these communications.
Adding dates to each phase within the matrix sets expectations around how long certain tasks should take or when certain items must be migrated in order to stay on schedule. This practice can also help in automating workflows, acting as a trigger for notifications to be sent. For example, if you have input due dates for content editing based on the project schedule, you can then automate a reminder email to go out 2 days before that due date to give editors enough time to complete. Added fields for “date assigned” and “date completed” can provide performance indicators and help in mitigating bottlenecks. When determining due dates on content, it’s best to work backwards from a go-live date and provide plenty of time for content drafting, reviewing, and user testing. In my experience, this requires at least 2 weeks per each of those phases but doesn’t have to be sequential. For example, as soon as someone is done drafting content, they can at once begin to review other draft content or test completed pages. Just be sure to factor in additional time if your migration project involves many stakeholders from across the organization.
For content-heavy projects, a batched approach may help break down the tasks into manageable portions. A batch might be broken out by team, by site section, or may be aligned to a development schedule, meaning portions of the site or specific content types are still under development and won’t be ready for migration until later in the project. Batching content is highly variable but can help break a very large content migration into smaller projects to help keep everyone focused and progressing.
Adding a separate phase for tracking the media assets that correspond to specific content may make sense if a different person or team is responsible for generating graphics, photos, icons, etc. Sometimes these are managed by the same migration team and are part of the page building process, but if a media workflow is happening in parallel to developing page copy or building pages within the new system, tracking that workflow in the content matrix may make sense.
Depending on the project timeline, a new site may take weeks or months to populate, test, and review. The original content may be undergoing regular updates during this period. Ideally, this overlap between the new content being ready to go-live and the old content being updated is kept to a minimum. However, updates to the live content may require updating that material on the staging or pre-production sites. Tracking this dual entry is critical to ensure that changes are not lost when the new site is live. Adding fields to the content matrix to track dual entry updates or support tickets can be useful for noting when something was updated and may require re-review to be approved.
If there are concerns around the volume of pages to edit, review, and migrate within a given timeframe, add a column noting the priority level of each page. This will ensure the most important pages are written, migrated, and reviewed within the timeframe allotted, while providing some structure around “critical” vs “nice-to-have” updates. Be sure to work with the appropriate decision-makers to determine any prioritizations upfront and approach the prioritization process with a written standard for determining critical versus non-critical pages. This will help alleviate any future concerns that may arise about why a page was not rewritten or migrated within the project timeline.
Changes to the page structure or IA during a content migration project are inevitable but deleting rows from the matrix also removes important historical context. As an alternative, consider moving content rows to a new “Cancelled” or “Archived” tab. This will help the content matrix continue to be a source of truth for your project without cluttering your workflow with obsolete content.
If some pages on the website include custom features like a calendar, a webform, or a dynamically generated list of other content, a developer may be involved at some point to support the building of these pages. Add phases or fields to the content matrix as needed to track these team members and any development statuses and notes.
As you can see, the content matrix can be a very powerful tool for managing a content migration project. The key is to balance adding complexity to the tracker while keeping it simple enough that everyone on the team can use it. Best results are achieved when a single person is responsible for building and maintaining the content matrix, but everyone involved in the project has the appropriate permissions to update their own content statuses, reference locations, and any relevant notes. By balancing complexity with efficiency, and oversight with access, the content matrix can provide transparency, process automation, and clear responsibilities for team members and project stakeholders for the duration of your project, and even well beyond the site migration.