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How to get content right on websites

How to get content right on websites
It takes more than content to create a website with great user experience. But content is the first element to get right before everything else.

Content is worthless unless it does one or both of the following:

#1 Supports a key business objective

#2 Fulfils users needs

(Halvorson and Rach, 2012)

You may have heard the phrase, content is the lifeblood of digital marketing.

It is true that the content monster is never satisfied. Our digital channels are forever craving freshly-cooked content, and keeping up can feel quite overwhelming.

However, the best content is the kind that addresses a business objective and fulfils users' needs. This is why you need a Content Strategy.

A Content Strategy document helps you understand what your business needs to communicate, what your users need from you, and most importantly, evaluate what's currently live. This is why drafting a Content Strategy often invovles a Content Audit.

The danger in having too much content is that:

  • Key information gets buried and becomes difficult to find (poor UX!)
  • Content gets out-of-date and forgotten, yet Google never forgets!
  • The risk of duplicate content increases because content creators have no idea what already exists on the website, so they just pile on more information.

So, how do you get content right on your website?

I said it earlier, get started on familiarising yourself with what content you currently have on your website - the Content Audit.

It is best practice to run this exercise in your organisation at intervals.

I can share some more on how to run a Content Audit in another article; for now, here are some other steps you can take towards getting content right on your website:

#1 Identify your key business objectives

If you are a university department for instance, what are your department's key objectives?

What would success for your department look like?

What role(s) can your website play in meeting these objectives?

What specific goals do you have for your website?

Can you track and measure them?

#2 Who are your key users?

Sometimes, the answer to this question splits the room, especially for businesses that serve multiple audiences. For instance, a university's website is for: potential students, current students, parents, alumni, research funding bodies, and more.

This is why having clear objectives that everyone aligns with in the beginning matters.

To dispassionately pinpoint your key users, evaluate the different audiences against your business objectives identified above.

High traffic to your website from non-relevant users is worthless.

#3 Get to know your users: research

A major mistake many businesses make is to assume they know their users. Assumption is the mother of failure.

You will be surprised at what you find out about your users when you take the time to get to know them.

User Research is a field of its own, but here are some steps you can take to understand your users:

  • Mine enquiries data e.g. email, phone conversations, face-to-face. The chances are that if they needed to get in touch with you, your website didn't do a good enough job.
  • Mine the web for any secondary data available on the audience group you are targeting.
  • Run focus group discussions with clear objectives as to what you want to find out AND how you will use that data.
  • Look through digital analytics reports and check for pages with really high bounce rates.

#4 The content plan

Now that you are armed with your key business objectives, you know who your target audience is, and you've gotten to know them and their needs so well you have personas pinned all over the walls in your office, it's time to work on the messaging.

Message: what do you want to say?

Branding and tone-of-voice: how do you want to say it?

Format: what's the best way to present this message - text, video, audio, images, animation?

Workflow: who will be responsible for producing this content, when?

Governance: the buck stops with who in terms of decision to create, update, or delete a content piece?

#5 Remember, it takes more than great content to have a successful website

It is important to bear in mind that content is just a piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting users to take the actions, we want them to.

The key is to make sure that every arm of your team is so joined up, it is clear to the user that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

Author: Tomi Oladepo