Content That Works on the Web (1,084 words)
Be Proactive But Realistic
It is vitally important that you identify and initiate contact with the content "owners" within your organization. You will want to obtain the raw materials that you will use to analyze and develop the content. In addition, you will need to interview the owners to get content that does not yet exist on paper. This is especially true for intelligent, complex Web applications, where a part of the application may encompass information and workflow elements from many parts of the organization.
But throughout this phase, keep reminding yourself of the agreed-upon scope of the project. You need to strike the appropriate balance between tapping into enthusiasm to further the project and tempering it to keep the project within realistic boundaries.
Keep in mind your ultimate customer—the Web site user or shopper. When the project is complete, the application will not be deemed a success if it doesn't meet the needs and satisfy the preferences of the intended users. Personalizing content through dynamic assembly, which allows each user to view only the data that is relevant to him or her, is one possibility.
Scheduling content reviews ahead of time, and setting a clear approval path that content owners should subscribe to can save you a lot of grief. Typically, your draft content will be reviewed by at least one subject matter expert and possibly your company's attorneys. Comments often differ in nuance or contradict one another. Being able to resolve differences is critical at this stage.
No matter how clear you are about deadlines, content owners have other obligations that may force them to respond late. You need to be as flexible as possible, but also very clear when a missed deadline will mean a missed deliverable date. You can generate a lot of good will simply by giving your content owners sufficient time in which to conduct their reviews.