This post is about gardening. It’s also about content management. Let’s see how we can fit those two into the same yard.
Last week I planted a tree. It’s not hugely expensive. Still, I worry about it. Sometimes I suspect I read too much. Has the following ever happened to you?
You know you need, say, a new pair of trousers. As luck would have it, all the stores sell the wrong type (the one that doesn’t fit or that makes a size six look like an overweight hippo). They do have nice shirts though, and you end up buying one of those.
So we planted a pear tree in a small garden. What’s to worry about?
Working with a pre-filled garden
First I checked online for suitable plants. Then I ended up buying this pear tree which wasn’t on my list at all. It’s a nice shirt though, and a really good buy…
- Fruit trees should be in a sheltered spot. The garden faces west. We’ve had a couple of storms… But there are hedges. That should help a bit, even though it’s more like the tree shelters the hedge. Hmm. We’ve also planted a lilac ‘tree’ which should provide shelter.
- Fruit trees need sufficient amounts of sunlight. This means keeping the hedge on a leash.
- It’s a seriously small garden. Working with what we have: hedge, terrace and the like, our pear tree and its companion are about a meter apart. Let’s hope the lilac remembers it’s not officially a tree and doesn’t take over. It didn’t in my parents’ garden so fingers crossed.
- The groundwater level may be inconveniently high for a fruit tree. The plum we planted last year seems quite happy. Hope for the best.
- What happens if everything works out fine? Remember this tree wasn’t on my list. Writing the draft of this post on my trip home (by train) I can’t even remember how tall it’s supposed to get if it feels at home in its current spot.
Waiting for a good pair of trousers to materialize would have made sense.
Managing content in a pre-filled website
‘Inheriting’ an existing website and filling it with whatever content is already available in your organization leaves you with relatively few options for improvements. It’s a lot like moving into a home with a garden that’s been around for decades. You could rip out everything that’s there – but that leaves you with the task of starting all over again. You may not have that possibility. So you need to work with what’s already there.
Creating great, fresh content for your website would make sense. But perhaps you don’t have the resources – yet.
Improving an existing website
You have a few basic options to improve any existing website.
- Optimizing existing content on your website:
- Making it more readable by adding (sub-) headings and lists where applicable
- Making it easier to find: adding or editing descriptions, metatags.
- Adding fresh content:
- Which you optimize before you publish it.
- Which you try to publish whenever your audience is likely to need that particular content.
- When it comes to taking your audience into account there are more things you can do or not do.
- Don’t veer off in a new direction every few weeks. Mix the topics so there’s something interesting for every (relevant) group of visitors, every time.
- Focus on topics your organization can deliver on. Not (just) on topics you happen to like. It’s not your personal blog.
- In older websites, you may not have the kind of detailed statistics you’d expect today. See how far you get with on-site stats and Google Analytics. Map out the limitations for the day you need arguments to move your website over to a new home – and garden.
- You may plant your content version of a pear tree, a lilac, a plum tree, a blueberry shrub among the existing vegetation… and find out how they do. If they do well, they’ll transform your website.
Do you know any more basic or advanced methods to tend an existing website?