Congratulations! You’re part of a successful merger and acquisition, your strategic partnership is underway, and you’ve unified your brand’s design, voice, and logos. The hard part is over, right? Well, not quite.
As you surely know, a marketer’s work is never done. Now that your marketing and creative teams have developed a consistent brand voice, it’s time to dive into your brand’s content and use your new brand voice to merge two websites.
Whether you’re creating one new website from two or integrating fresh content into existing pages, this five-step process will help guide you on how to combine websites — without losing valuable time or content.
Step 1: Take inventory of your content
To know where you need to go, you’ll need to know your starting point. Creating an inventory of existing content is a critical first step to figure out how to combine websites.
You can keep track of content in any format that works best for you — we like to use spreadsheets at WriterGirl. Add every asset to your inventory, including blog posts, white papers, webinars, doctor bios, and anything else that lives on the existing sites. Depending on the size of your websites, it may be helpful to build a site map that shows where every piece of website content goes and how they relate to one another.
At this point, you’ll also want to choose a healthcare content management system (CMS) and platform for your website. Will you keep the platform one of your sites is already using, or start with a new one? Deciding early on if you will use Drupal, WordPress, or a proprietary platform can help you optimize your content plan to fit your CMS.
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Step 2: Strategize the user experience
Make sure you consider the experience your site visitors will have. Will you create a more patient-friendly website with plain language? Do you have copy-heavy pages that could benefit from fewer words, better flow and design elements that make them easier to scan?
Asking yourself these three questions can help you architect the preferred experience for your site visitors:
- What does my organization offer?
- What makes us different?
- Why should patients trust us?
Use the answers to build your user journey. What information do visitors want to be able to access first? Care locations? Your organization’s services and areas of specialization? Perhaps a scheduling tool, physician directory or online bill pay?
Think about what your visitors need or want to know when they first come to your site. Looking at what pages have been visited most often from your legacy sites can provide great insight. If finding a provider is important, you may want to put it front and center. Your organization’s mission and history (even your recent merger) may also interest visitors to your site — but perhaps not right away.
After figuring out content priority, you can outline your site content based on how visitors will access it. Start with the most salient information, and add fleshier sections later in the user flow. Understanding how patients want to interact with your merged organization online will help you develop a clearer vision for how to combine websites.
Remember to keep page layouts consistent
As you’re combining different brands and websites, consistency is key when it comes to content architecture.
Keep your patients’ website experience simple and straightforward by creating user-friendly pages. For example, you may want to keep contact information and form fills in the same place on every page so that your patients can easily find them.
Using an outline to organize content when writing new pages can help you maintain consistency. Templates also allow you to streamline pages with similar content and design — both for ease of use for visitors, and to increase familiarity with your brand.
Step 3: Audit your combined content
Next, use your content inventory and planned user experience to evaluate existing content. Make sure to give yourself enough time to conduct a thorough content audit, so that you have all the pieces in place by the time you’re ready to move to the next step.
First, consider any gaps in the user experience you need to fill with new content. Are there new service lines that don’t already have a page? Will you need to create physician bios for your newly combined clinical team?
You can also use this plan to decide what content you can drop, either to reduce duplications or for brevity. It’s okay — and sometimes necessary — to be ruthless when it comes to reducing content. Remember, patients prefer a clear, streamlined experience when seeking care. Outdated or clunky content will only get in their way.
Finally, decide what content you need to rework. You may need to rewrite some pieces to match your new brand voice and combined service offerings. Some may need only a new logo or a few small design changes.
Step 4: Create or adjust your content
Now that you know what you need to drop, rebrand, alter, or write, it’s time to start creating your website content. And, since you already have a brand voice and user experience strategy in place, you have everything you need to begin.
Start by contacting key stakeholders, such as your organization’s creative director, UX team, and project managers. Hold a kick-off meeting to explain your goals and why you need to combine two websites. This may be a great opportunity for your new teammates to work together for the first time!
Develop a workflow and deadlines
Create a workflow for how to combine websites. Establish a schedule that includes key dates, such as kick-off, staging and launch. Be as granular as you can — include when copy drafts are due and subject matter expert (SME) reviews should be completed, as well as due dates for design work and content uploads. Consider working backward from your launch date so that you can be sure you’re giving yourselves enough time.
Assigning tasks to teams or individuals as soon as possible can help you meet your timeline. Whether you’re working with in-house creatives or vendors, internal clinical experts or service line managers, make sure that everybody understands what they are responsible for and when.
Determine your review process
A review process is invaluable, especially when updating or inventing editorial content. Decide who will review content and in what order, and whose input is needed for final approval and publication.
Most importantly, stay organized! A task management system such as Asana, Trello, Basecamp or Microsoft Teams can help you keep track of assets and make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
>>Read more: How to communicate a merger to employees: 7 tips
Step 5: Test and analyze your combined website
Before you launch your combined site, you may want to conduct some user testing. Ask internal stakeholders to view and evaluate the user experience. You can also assemble a panel of potential visitors that represent your patient population and ask them for feedback. Is the merged website easy to navigate? Can they find what they need in three clicks or fewer? What can be clearer or done better?
After you launch, keep an eye on your site analytics and traffic to monitor what’s working and what you need to refine. For example:
- Are certain pages showing a higher bounce rate than others?
- Are you losing traffic at a specific point in the journey?
- Which pages are driving the most conversions, such as appointment requests, phone calls, or form fills?
A plug-in like Crazy Egg can generate a heat map that shows in a single view which sections of your site are getting the most activity and which are being overlooked. Google Analytics and similar tools can help you study your user journey to understand what patients are searching for most and if they are finding what they need on your site.
Regularly monitoring your website performance can help inform content improvements and overall user experience. Ultimately, that helps ensure your potential patients stay informed, so they can get the care they need at the right time.
Ready to combine websites, but you’re not sure where, or how, to begin? The healthcare writers and content strategists at WriterGirl can help you at any stage of the process. Contact us to find out what we can do for you.