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Content planning is easily the most critical part of creating a website that supports your business, no matter your niche. It helps you target and engage the right people to minimize confusion, set realistic expectations, and make your content strategy understandable.

If you’re unsure about how to create a content plan, here’s a simple 5-step process you can implement right away.

Discovery phase

The discovery phase involves using the information you gather from your visitors to create the kind of content they need. As such, you must actively engage them to understand their goals and viewpoints.

A few practical techniques you can apply here include:

  1. Sketch boarding – It involves finding out the ideal site structure for your client.
  2. Gather content – This technique simplifies website planning by combining both site mapping and content gathering procedures.
  3. Card sorting – This usability testing method facilitates easier content organization and grouping.
  4. Mind mapping – involves using MindManager to plan a website that has fragmented content.

Requirements phase

Here, you’ll identify all the rules that your content development will follow to satisfy your site visitors. There are four main types of content requirements:

Branding/identity requirements

These offer guidelines on how identity items such as logos should be applied in content development.

Legal requirements

The descriptions of your products or services must meet the legal guidelines, such as accuracy.

Technical requirements

Your content must be within the technical limits as specified in your website. For example, if you’re creating photos, the pixels must match your site’s requirements.

Creative requirements

Some tools you might be using for content development specify the kind of tone to use. A good example is MailChimp and other email marketing software providers.

Defining these requirements upfront eliminates needless delays that occur in the course of plan execution.

Content mapping phase

After understanding your website’s business goals and requirements to develop content, the next step is to structure the site’s content with content mapping.

A content map helps you create a visual plan of how information is spread out in your site’s pages. It can also include the external sources of content such as guest blog posts, YouTube videos, and references. Using it provides a holistic approach to the flow of content on your website.

Findings presentation phase

In this step, you already know the layout of the content on your website, its target audience, and rules for creating it. You are ready to present your design ideas to your client so that they can build a web environment that suits this content.

Presentation is best done using mock-ups, as they allow you to showcase your work to the client in a real-like fashion. An example is where you set up a server that loads your HTML code and JPGs to facilitate a progressive client review.

Content gathering and editing phase

This stage involves assigning roles to various content developers and gathering of website material. It’s best to have an open discussion with the contributors to enhance cohesion and collaboration around content production and publishing. When everyone understands how a delay on their end affects the entire project, they’re likely to work harder towards making it a success!

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