Category Archives: Uncategorized

7 Key Web Content Skills

A content manager’s job is broad and varied. They are the link between various specialists while also needing to be specialists in several areas themselves. A talented content manager will propel a site’s strategy and development forward. But to do this they need to excel in numerous areas. Here are 7 key web content skills to start with.

Organising

If you are planning a site launch in 4 months you need to identify every piece of content that you will require along with all the other tasks involved in devlopment. For Cycle Ireland, I took around 8000 photos, selected 1650, photoshopped and captioned each of those, and then started work on the videos, text and supporting content.

Being an outstanding content manager requires the ability to plan in detail from the outset. Efficient processes and good organising is essential in order to keep problems and missed deadlines to a minimum.

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Orchard CMS – first look

Orchard CMS was recommended to me as a fast-improving alternative to WordPress. I approached it with trepidation. I have some knowledge of PHP, which is important to understanding WordPress whenever you need to look under the hood, but none whatsoever of .NET. Also, it has a reputation for being less user-friendly than rival CMS systems.

Orchard CMS background

Orchard is open-source software but was initiated primarily by a group of Microsoft employees, and is believed to be well-regarded by the company.  That suggests that there could be significant support if the project continues to grow.

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Small Business Website Checklist

I have been spending a lot of time on small business websites recently, and the quality of them in general is fairly disappointing. And since there seems to be some confusion over what a small business website should contain, here is a handy checklist:

The small business website checklist

  • Name
  • Photos (outside and inside)
  • Location
  • Opening hours
  • Services
  • Active social feeds
  • About the business
  • About the owners
  • Testimonials
  • Prices
  • FAQs

Let’s go through each of these one-by-one:

  • Name is obvious – I include it here merely to have a complete list
  • Photos – As a user, I need an outside photo to see more easily where I am going (particularly true for accommodation) and I need photos of the inside so that I can try and judge the quality of the place.
  • Location – I need the exact location. Ensure that is right on your map. Draw a map with nearby landmarks if it makes it clearer where you are (e.g if you are off a main road).
  • Opening hours – Don’t make me call up for these. Just don’t. If you have ‘normal’ opening hours you still need to tell me that.
  • Services – You cannot put down too much detail about what you do. For example, most bicycle shops can carry out a bicycle service. Not many go to the trouble of detailing exactly what the service entails, along with a pricing for it. This sort of thing really drives home the value that the customer is getting.
  • Active social feeds. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Keep these reasonably up-to-date (postings within a week in slow times). If it is too much work for you, focus on fewer outlets and remove links to dead feeds from your site.
  • About the business – how long you are going, how you have changed, future plans perhaps – be concise but tell as much of your story as will interest others.
  • About the owners – this is a follow-on from the previous point. What drove you to start the business? How do you differentiate yourself from others? Why do you like doing this work? What makes you qualified to do it?
  • Testimonials – don’t go overboard with these, just try having two or three. The line of business that you are in will determine how credible they are. Aim for testimonials from people whose identity can be verified.
  • Pricing – somehow this seems to get left out of websites. It is absolutely vital that you include this. If your service is bespoke then include examples. But don’t just leave it out or tell people to call you. The internet exists so that people don’t have to call you.
  • FAQs – Frequently asked questions should be as extensive as possible while remaining relevant. Put in every question about your business that you can think of.

Get your small business website right and convert prospects to customers quickly and effectively. All of the above apply to you. Put in the work and your rewards will come.

 

Workflowy Review

Workflowy is an apparently simple but extremely clever tool to manage your projects.

You start by writing a list.

Click on any item on this list and you can now write another list underneath it.

Click on any item in this sub list and you can now – yep – write another list beneath it, and so on.

Breadcrumbs allow you to navigate up and down the levels easily.

Workflowy Logo

Workflowy

The clever part is that you can delve into a lower list in 2 ways, by isolating it on its own page or by viewing it as part of its parent list.

Everything is stored in the cloud, but you can continue to work offline. It won’t save until you are back online, but you can export everything if that is a problem.

It is really neat to keep an overview of your upcoming tasks, divided into neat and easy to read sections, and to keep them all in one place.

The other clever part is that you can tag every task. You can label everything either #critical, #soon, #medium or #longterm (as an example). Then you can instantly pull up a list of your #critical tasks and knock them off, then scan your #soon tasks. You can label them for days or dates. You have complete freedom to organise your work in the way that you want it.

You can outline a content plan and add notes on any item at any time, which are neatly hidden in the ordinary view.

The key thing to remember is that everything can be a list, once you think about it in the right way.

There are free and paid versions of Workflowy.

Workflowy review conclusion

As things stand, I am currently measuring my work in blocks of time, which (to my current understanding) doesn’t suit Workflowy, but I am using it to keep track of high-level tasks which will stretch over the next few months. People use it in various ways, and everybody should check it out.

Why web content is hard

Centralised content

Centralised content

Centralised content is content that is controlled in a structured way by one or two people – the content managers given responsibility for the site.

The opposite of this is people from across the team contributing whatever they can, when they can, without review.

I have seen this idea before. It is especially dangerous in times of website launch. There is so much to do and not enough time to do it. So someone gets a great idea – send an email around asking for everyone’s help and many hands will make light work.

Web content is hard

Even if other people are initially enthusiastic (and even if that enthusiasm is not faked), the web content will quickly slide down the list of priorities. It will do so because people are busy and it is harder to write web content than most people realise.

As web content managers we have a duty to communicate effectively this message. It can’t be done by anyone with a spare hour. It is skilled and difficult (okay, it’s not coal-mining difficult) work and needs to be treated as such at all times. Belittling what we do does not benefit us or the companies we work for.