A survey of digital agencies reveals that website launches are delayed by as much as three months because content isn’t ready or suitable.

Priorities cited for website projects were design (75%), development (55%) and search engine optimisation (65%), with only 10% of agencies questioned saying website content was top of their agenda.

When asked what caused website launches to be delayed, 55% cited ‘content not ready’ or ‘content not suited to web pages’ as key reasons.

Delays ranged from one to three months, with associated costs of between £25,000 and £100,000.

Agencies and their clients must put content at the centre of their web strategies,” said Barry Monk, director of Next Communications, the digital marketing content company that conducted the survey.

What comes over loud and clear is that the focus is primarily on the ‘look and feel’ of a website and how it is tuned for SEO. However, a website is a primary marketing medium and content must be its foundation. It therefore needs to be written in a concise and compelling way to maximise the brand and marketing messages – and it must be ready to meet website launch deadlines.”

Websites typically range from 50 to 100 pages plus attached Word, PDF and other documents, requiring content of between 25,000 and 100,000 words.

It’s easy to underestimate the enormity of the content task for a new website and assume it can simply be ported over from an old site,” said Monk.

A new online project demands fresh content and agencies and their clients must ensure they have the writing skills, experience and resources available if they want to launch on time.”