Planning Awesome Website Content in 4 Easy Steps
Writing isn’t always an easy task, especially if it isn’t something you do every day. Writing and planning website content can be even harder – trying to hit a balance between informational, sales-oriented, and user-friendly is key.
What information does your site need to provide? What kind of images do you need? Planning ahead is really important when it comes to website content, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Here are some steps you can take to make writing content easier.
1. Know the Basics: Who Are You? What Do You Want? What Do Your Customers Want?
It may seem obvious, but these questions are extremely important when writing website content. Your website is an extensions of your brand and the way it appears to the world, and knowing the answers to these questions will help you to determine the right content.
Who are you? What does your company do? How has you evolved? What do you provide to your customers? What do you want from your customers? What do they want from you? Answers can be literal, i.e. “they want product A,” or they can be more abstract, i.e. “they want to feel secure and experience great customer service.”
2. Know What You Want to Say VS What You Need To Say
Make a list of everything you want to say, and then separate out what you need to say. There is a difference here. What you want to say might come across as too obtuse or sales-y for your average customer to relate to. What you need to say are the things that you most want your customers to know. Sometimes this is as simple as relaying who you are and what you can do for them. Other times you need to include things like what sets you apart from the competition or explain how what you offer has a direct benefit to a customer’s life.
3. Define 3 Main Users
If you’ve never put together buyer personas (more on that later) for your audience, this is an important step. Here you’re going to define the 3 most common types of consumers. You can make them generic, but the more specific you get, the easier it gets to write content that will engage them. Here’s an example of what one of these might look like:
Basics: Female, Mid 30s
Family: Husband, 1 Teenage Son, 1 Teenage Daughter
Education: Master’s Degree from Ivy League University
Career: Vice President of Production at Major Retail Manufacturer
Goals: Spend more time with family; Learn new skills to advance career
Challenges: No lateral move to make at current company, will have to job hunt; Current position has her working long hours without regularity
4. Determine Your Navigation
These are the main places a user will click as soon as they land on your website. If your visitors can’t quickly determine where to click to find the information they need, they will leave. Think of the navigation like a map – you need to anticipate where your user will want to go.
Navigation needs to be concise and laid out in a logical fashion – but they need to be laid out according to customer logic, not of someone who works at your company. This is especially important for brand new users that don’t know anything about your company, but want to learn.
You can have multiple levels of navigation, but it’s best to stick to 3 or fewer. Below is an example of some basic navigation. The left-most links represent the top navigation, or what you see when you land on a website. The second level represents those links underneath a dropdown menu, and the third level represents those in another menu that would dropdown from the original dropdown menu.
- About Us
- Our Team
- Working with Us
- Apply Now
- Our Services
- Service 1
- Service 2
- Service 3
- Contact Us
Aim to provide more detailed information as the user clicks deeper into your site. Regardless of your industry, your website will have visitors needing various levels of information. They may range from casual researchers who want to digest information quickly, to those seeking very specific information who are willing to read and dig to find it. Organize your navigation and content so that more general information is located at the entry (first) level and more detailed content appears as a site visitor continues to click through (second and third levels). Generally, your entry pages can include more images and photographs, while deeper pages can be more text-heavy.
A Few Things to Consider
It’s okay to over-navigate. If you think a new user might look for information in two places, for example your Blog could be in the main navigation as well as under “About”, put a link in both places. If you have content on your About page that relates to a blog post you wrote or to a service you provide, link out to those pages from there as well as in the navigation.
Consider the “3-click rule,” but don’t be rigid. A general rule of thumb for website usability recommends requiring no more than three clicks to get to any level of information in your site. However, if your content is well-developed and provides adequate information, that rule doesn’t always apply. As long as a visitor can easily find the information they want, they’ll continue to click around, regardless of the number of clicks.
If you’re re-vamping your current website, consider your analytics. Take a look at what pages do your current users visit most? Least? What pages do they land on and what path do they take from there? If you don’t have Google Analytics installed yet, be sure to get it up and running ASAP, then review the data after at least 30 days and take your findings into consideration.
Planning website content is a piece of cake if you’re prepared. Now all that’s left is the writing!