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When a website refresh just isn’t enough…

When setting out to audit a non profit website with content strategy in mind, I knew Long Wharf Theatre would be the target of my attention. I worked at LWT for more than 10 years and know too well the specific brand of hopeful-and-well-meaning mixed with pulled-too-thin that plagues its staff and therefore its content.

Don’t get me wrong…Long Wharf Theatre is a world class theatre that creates award-worthy plays. The problem is that for too long, the theatre was the number one priority and therefore everything else, including marketing the productions AND financing them through fundraising, was an afterthought.

As far as I can remember, the conversation to overhaul the website began sometime in 2010 when mobile devices and online purchasing became commonplace. Also to my knowledge, the website was never fully rebuilt, and only retooled with a more current skin in the last few years.

In The Content Strategy Toolkit, Meghan Casey discusses in depth why stakeholder buy-in and uncovering issues with roles and responsibilities are paramount to creating and maintaining good content. A hallmark of working in a non-profit is often a lack of work capacity and burnout, a problem that occurs “when organizations completely underestimate how long content work can take or when there aren’t enough people to do the work in the desired timeframe (or both)” (Casey, 2015). Add to those issues that content creation, organization, and maintenance are spread across many departments who are already spread thin with the larger issues like staying in the black, and it is very difficult to prioritize this type of work.

Unfortunately, and I believe I can speak from many, many years of experience, these workflow issues are a huge burden on the content creation and organization for Long Wharf Theatre.

That said, I am offering a cursory audit of the LWT website in the hope that my recommendations create an easy starting place for simple changes to implement better content maintenance practices. Understanding that my audience are the employees of Long Wharf Theatre, who create wildly imaginative theatre but perhaps are not as attuned to content strategy, I have tried to use very simple terms and to explain the reasons why each level of content strategy is important.

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