A 5-part strategy to help you create or update your event website: Audit, Assess, Design, Collect/Enter, and Governance.
A content audit is a literal listing of the content on an existing website. An information architecture diagram will be helpful for a quick review of the content, but will not give a close enough view. This audit should be both quantitative and qualitative. For the most complete audit, include all internal and external links, pictures, and files on every page. Also, consider including existing metadata and key phrases from the pages as well.
If you do not have an existing website, audit your existing marketing materials to determine what will translate to the website. Reference my previous advice for details on what would be good information to include for an event website.
Once a complete listing of existing content has been created, assess what truly needs to move to the new website. This assessment should simply answer the basic question “Why are we including this content?” – for each and every page. If there is confusion or uncertainty, assess which objective that specific page will be addressing. If it doesn’t address an objective, does it address an internal requirement? If the content doesn’t address an objective or fulfill an internal need, removal of the content should be considered.
After assessing the existing content, missing content should also be assessed – what else is needed to make the new site better or more complete? For each piece or page, a detailed list should also be created for Who, What, When, Where & How – who can/will provide or get it, what exactly is that person responsible to provide (possible separation between content and photos for example), when is each piece of content due, where will the content come from and be stored, and how will it be provided.
As you can see, the audit and assessment steps come before the design phase begins. This is simply following a “Content-Driven” design concept, where the website’s purpose is determined, then the content matches the purpose, then the concept matches the content. Only by having a full list of content needs and desires can a well-rounded design be provided that serves the stated purpose.
COLLECT / ENTER
After the audit and assessment, begin collecting the content for the new website at the same time development begins. Ask your development person/team to provide a Build Timeline; this should specifically state the order in which various portions of the site will be created. If you can provide the content in the same order as the build, missing functionality can be ascertained and content can be entered on an ongoing basis rather than all at once at the 11th hour of the project.
As part of the assessment process and/or once the project is live, you should set up rules of governance. These rules should determine how often content is updated, who is responsible for each piece of content and when content is added or archived. By following your own governing rules, you will consistently have an updated and relevant site and will better know when new areas need to be added.
For additional information and considerations, I highly recommend the book Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halverson. It’s an easy-to read, easier-to-follow roadmap for good content strategy.