We talk a lot about content problems—how to identify them, solve them, and make everything a whole lot better.
But sometimes it’s important to take a step back and ask where that content problem came from in the first place. Why did we find ourselves in that particular pickle?
When I ask this question on client projects, I often find that our content problems started as communication problems. The designer didn’t know that the content required three levels of headlines. The developer didn’t know that the widget was supposed to work a certain way. The writer didn’t realize that a whole other section was going to be added to the site in phase two.
And so the content (and its designs and structures) got really messy along the way.
Which is why it’s really important to communicate with your teams up-front.
A while back, we talked about what your designer needs to know before they start designing. Today, I’d like to talk about an even less-often communicated with group: your developers.
So, what do your developers need to know about your content?
1. Exactly how it works.
If you’ve got a contact form on your new blog, your developer needs to know things like:
- Which fields are required and which are optional?
- What should happen if someone doesn’t fill in a required field?
- How will you communicate that fields are required or optional?
- Where does the contact form feed into (a database, emails sent directly to one address, two addresses, three addresses)?
Your developers thinks about the website differently than you do. It’s their job to think in terms of how to make the code work best, be most efficient, and be easy or quick to write—how to keep their portion of the project within budget and on time.
So if you don’t spell out the specific way your form, your blog, your submission system, your CMS, or your CRM should work, chances are it’s going to come out the other end with some really efficient code—but probably not quite meeting your needs.
2. Overall vision.
Just like your designer, your developers are a strategic part of your team…so make sure they’re in the loop when it comes to strategy. They should understand the overall goals of the content marketing initiative, as well as the details of why you’re asking for these specific guidelines.
And let’s not forget about up-front collaboration. Your developer can chime in before the design phase to let you know what the realistic costs and timelines are for the functionality that you want—keeping your project on track to meet real business goals and user needs while staying in budget and on time.
Have anything to add?
If you work closely with strategy projects and development teams, we’d love to hear from you. How else can the content team help set your developers up for success? What do you deliver when it’s time to kick off the development phase?