(This is part one of a three part series)
Last July (2009) I launched a new Website for Change for Kids, while working at Arc90. We had taken on the project on a pro-bono basis and additionally didn’t have the luxury of a big budget. This article speaks to the free (or cheap) tools that are out there today, which anyone can use to support a Website design project; specifically collaborative content editing.
The first order of business after the initial project planning phase and development of a new site map was to audit the existing content on the Website for quality, relevance and also to see if it matches up with the new site map, i.e. architecture of the Website. This is no small task. First of all there are multiple editors and stakeholders who need access to editing and approving the content. It’s also an ongoing process that can literally continue days before the new site launches hence editing content and the workflow around who and when needs to be as easy as possible.
A few years ago while I was working at Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners (now Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners) I was introduced to the content workflow process and it went something like this:
- Client sends “copydeck” to producer
- Producer reviews and sends copydeck to designer
- Designer floats copydeck into design concepts
- Client reviews design concepts; catches copy errors and also has a handful of updated changes to content.
- Producer makes some updates, sends copydeck back to client, client makes updates sends it back to producer, producer sends to designer, design concepts get updated and this process goes on and on.
If you work in an interactive or advertising agency setting you might be familiar with this process. It’s not that this process is completely wrong, it’s just inefficient and as we all know, time is money.
There is a great product for managing this process called “Jumpchart.” Their motto is “nice and tidy Website planning.” I chose to use Jumpchart for the content workflow process for the following reasons:
- You can easily add pages to your Website project, organize (and reorganize) to match and correspond to the site map of the new site
- The site content can be edited by multiple people in multiple locations because it’s Web-based
- Anyone can make blog-style comments on a page making it very easy to have a conversation about the content and easily clear up questions
- You get an email notification every time someone makes a content
Additionally Jumpchart allows you to export your content to clean XHTML and CSS and has a wireframe view and a sitemap view which allows anyone to actually click around the site and view content in a browser. Another nice features is the use of “snippets.” A snippet is a recurring piece of content that shows up in multiple places. When you have a snippet you can drop it into any page in Jumpchart and when make an edit to the snippet the snippet content is refreshed wherever it appears. Jumpchart is an amazing tool for content sharing and organization, I recommend it for any Website project large or small.
Jumpchart has a free version and three other paid versions of the plan: Jumpchart.com