So you’ve done it. You’ve made the decision to redesign your website, to bring it up to date with the latest technology and features. You even have design ideas and have hired your favorite designer to create the “look”. Maybe you’ve even seen the first draft. Then comes the big realization: you’ve got to come up with content for your site.
Coming up with web content does not have to be like waiting in line at Walmart, pulling teeth or watching a bad chick flick. Here are some thoughts to give you a head start, so that when your designer calls for that content, you can shock them by handing it over…
1. Figure out the Goal
What’s the goal of your website? Are you booking trips? Are you educating? Are you selling cars? Every place you take a viewer should be leading them to your goal in a user-friendly manner. Figure out the goal, and keep that in mind every step of the way. There should be a “Call to Action” on every page leading them to your goal.
2. Start with the Content, Start Small
Unless you’ve booked a week away from the family in a winter cabin all by yourself, don’t try to write the whole site content at once. It can be overwhelming enough to freeze up the best of us. Make a goal to do one page at a time. Maybe one a week. Get your content together, and make it quality. Keep it simple, keep it clear. It doesn’t have to be Ernest Hemingway. Just pleasant and organized.
3. Think Like a Client
Organize what you want to say due to your client needs, not your company structure. What do they want to hear about your business that will convince them to choose you? Don’t focus on telling them all about yourself. Get them excited about what you are offering by answering their questions before they ask. Let your history, years in business and technical details be subsidiary information.
When you write each page, think about what they will be looking for first. Then second. Lead them to your goal, and make it a pleasant experience for them. Break up big paragraphs with captivating headings. Use videos, photos, podcasts and graphics in key places that make sense, to make the experience palatable.
Don’t waste their time by creating unnecessary pages. Keep your site clean and efficient and provide valuable information. Your viewers will appreciate it, and your search engine rankings will show the results.
4. Extra credit
If you have the budget, we’ll hire out search engine gurus to sprinkle key words for search engines throughout your text. However, as you’re writing, keep in mind terms viewers may be searching for to find businesses such as yours. For example, if you sell health care services, include terms specific to your industry such as “teeth whitening” or “crown repair”. Not just general terms like “dental health”. Speak specifically to what folks will search for, and what you are selling. Just remember not to let search engine language drive your content. Good, human content comes first.
5. Use Savvy Nav
Once your content is written, coming up with your site navigation will make more sense. There are lots of ways to determine the navigation of your site…
- Notecards – use 3” x 5” note cards and write a page on each of these . Then sort them into stacks of what topic goes with what. Now put the most important one on top to determine the main navigational link. You might also have a few “test” people go through your notecards and give their feedback on what navigation makes sense to them as well.
- Spreadsheet – If you have a larger site with more pages, you may want to create a content inventory in a Microsoft spreadsheet. This should include links to each page and a sentence about what will be on each page.
- Creative Brainstorming – Drawing with markers is fun. Tacking papers/sticky notes up to a bulletin board and moving these around can be a more creative, fun way to play with your site structure. This is a great way to get the ideas flowing, and is often a great way to start the process, allowing for creative brainstorming with your group. Once you begin to nail down the site structure, you can move to the spread sheet.
5. Give links clear names.
Don’t be cute on your main links. Clients need to know exactly where they are going. Be respectful of their time, and don’t lose them. For example, “News” is better than “Tidbits”. They might not know what Tibits means.
Relax, You’re Done
If you give yourself enough time and a little head start, the process of coming up with your web content can be a breeze. Coupled with the stunning website design your designer is working on, you’ll have a fantastic site that will keep users coming back for more.