macbook-pro-content

You’ve got a website you’re planning to redesign and relaunch. What’s going to take up most of your time? Finding the right designer? Getting the design done? Perhaps because we call it a website redesign we often think of the design part as being the biggest part of a website relaunch. We’re also visual creatures, and when a new website launches the most immediate thing we notice is what we see–a new design. But beware, because it’s not the design that’s going to take up most of your time, either in hours or weeks or month. What will take more of  your personal time in hours, and more of the project timeline in terms of delays of the launch of your site, is the content. Yeah, those words you need to put on all the pages after the design is done.

I’ve been running a web design firm since 1999. We’ve designed, redesigned, and launched hundreds of websites. The design can be done in as little as a week. It rarely takes more than two months to get designs approved. But I’ve seen fully functional websites that were ready to launch, other than that content was needed, and they sat idle for as long as a year.

I was reminded of how much work crafting content takes as I’ve been working on a redesign of MWI’s Hong Kong website. I’m writing all the content myself, because I’m very particular about what the website says, and it’s taking a heap of my time. I’ve put 10x the time into it as I have on any other part of the website design process. But I’ve found some things that can help. Here are three of my tips:

  1. Hire someone else to do it. Don’t have time to write? Let someone else do it. Pay them. Sure, it won’t be exactly what you might write yourself, but if you wait for yourself, it might never happen.
  2. Burn your ships. If you’re determined to do it yourself, make yourself an offer you can’t refuse. You’ve heard of the conquistador who burned his ships once he reached the New World in order to motivate his men? That’s what I did with the MWI HK site. I launched it prior to any of the content being written. The URL is all over the business cards I hand out. Do you think I’m motivated to get that content written? You bet.
  3. Write about what you know. This timeless advice from the film I Remember Mama makes writing easier. Instead of writing dry, boring industry lingo, write stories. Write in the first person. Or just write like Teehan Lax.
  4. Make it part of your daily routine. Many successful book authors advise putting aside a certain amount of time every day to write. Do the same for your own website. This breaks the job down into emotionally manageable chunks, rather than an 800 pound gorilla.

There’s no easy way to get through it, but you can make it easier on yourself. What tips do you have for writing content for a website relaunch?