For the last several weeks, a colleague and I have taken the time to create a content strategy proposal report for the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC). The proposal serves in part as a response to the Request For Proposal that the organization released a few months ago. In the RFP, the BRPC seeks proposals for a new website with a focus on promoting resources and information regarding outdoor recreation in the Berkshire County area. This could be interpreted as a project separate from their current website; however, to better support our content strategy report, my partner and I decided to treat this as a redesign of their current website with the addition of the new recreation-based features requested in the RFP. The following is a summary of our strategy and findings.
Summary of Findings
The BRPC is a regional government office located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Founded in 1966, the organization has served as the official planning agency for Berkshire County, providing comprehensive planning services to their municipalities which include land use, transportation, economic development, environmental management, sustainable communities, and public health.
According to the RFP, the BRPC’s target audiences are residents and visitors who are interested in recreation and events in the Berkshires. Additionally, they serve current members involved in the organization as well as event organizers and property managers who want to post events and get more involved.
Our proposal began with a content alignment summary that analyzes the BRPC’s current content and initiates the conversation on how it can be better aligned with the BRPC’s business goals. Then, we conducted an audit of the website to identify areas for improvement, such as SEO, accessibility, architecture, and writing. All in all, we found that although the website appeared professional, there were notable inconsistencies. These include how the current homepage bombards users with too much information, how the wiring is a bit too lengthy and formal in some areas, and how there is virtually no alt text on their images, which means that the visually impaired cannot access them.
Additionally, we performed a brief competitive analysis of the websites of two similar organizations to see how the BRPC is appearing and performing compared to their “competitors.”
Most of the aforementioned analyses and summaries were conducted by my partner, while I focused on other areas of the proposal. But, we came together to formulate the next section: explaining our main strategy. This includes a list of business objectives, the core strategy statement, and the messaging framework. Overall, we wanted to emphasize that the BRPC is here to satisfy the needs of current and prospective users through engaging content, intuitive design, and plentiful services and information.
Next, we took a deep dive into how the content should be designed. We created matrices that prioritized the content, then we devised an organization plan with a sitemap, and then we proposed wireframes which showed basic layouts of three key pages on the new site. These key pages included the new homepage, the events calendar that would include a link that allows registered users to post an event, and the new recreation mapping feature requested in the RFP. I was responsible for creating most of this section, with my partner helping me with some of the ideas.
Finally, I crafted a writing style guide (including tone, voice, and best writing practices for certain mediums), laid out the Key Performance Indicators for success, and listed the next steps to get the strategy moving forward. These next steps include necessary roles and responsibilities as well as explaining the content creation process and the importance of the content lifecycle.
When creating this proposal, we wanted to find a healthy balance between following the BRPC’s requests in their RFP and incorporating our own ideas based on what we found through our analyses. We wanted to make sure that the BRPC website and content across platforms are easy to navigate and look at, meet accessibility standards, and satisfy current as well as prospective users through new and improved features.
Content is everything for any business, but not all content is created equal. Therefore, it is crucial that when proposing any business model or change to one, you are also proposing a comprehensive content strategy report that lays out content analysis, design, prioritization, organization, presentation, and guidelines.
You can view the entire strategy report here.