A lot of our customers struggle with creating and organizing content for their websites. Heck, we struggle with it, too! It can be challenging. Here is our standard method for getting a handle on what can seem like an overwhelming task.
Try to put your present website out of your mind for a moment. In fact, try not to think in terms of a website at all. Think, for the moment, in a broader sense. In terms of your organization in general.
What are your top three organizational objectives? What are the main things that your business has to achieve in the next year to be successful? Try to answer with a fresh perspective and try to disregard your perceived expectations of others.
Keep it Simple
Don’t overthink this. You are simply trying to improve your website. You want to change it so that it better supports your organization. So that it helps you achieve your objectives. The best way to do that is almost always to focus on what’s most important (your overarching objectives) and address them head-on.
The most common problems we encounter regarding content strategy are:
- A tendency of people to structure their websites the way they have structured their organizations.
- A focus on facts and features instead of benefits.
It is understandable that people would want to model their websites after their org charts because they are familiar with the structure and it makes sense to them. The problem is that visitors to your website, especially the most crucial audience – first-time visitors, have no clue how your organization is structured.
Messaging is more persuasive if it is framed in terms of benefits than features. People don’t care about features unless they connect the dots on how those features will make life better for them.
Create a bucket for each objective and then put your content in the buckets according to which objective they support. It is very important to note that we didn’t say put your current pages in the buckets, we said put your content in the buckets. Often this work requires cutting content from a single page and pasting parts of it into more than one bucket. If a bit of content seems to support more than one objective, pick the bucket that it best supports. Resist putting the same content in two buckets.
Within each bucket, try to group similar content together. Once you have it grouped, edit it into coherent copy. Less is ALWAYS more when it comes to writing for the web. Say “it” as succinctly as you can. Be ruthless about cutting superfluous verbiage. If you have great copy that you don’t need but hate to part with, consider repurposing it in a blog post.
Gaps and Excesses
It is common that this process makes gaps in content blatantly evident. Likewise, it often identifies content that no longer serves an important purpose. When this happens, cut the excess and write to fill in the gaps.
Take some time to look over the copy within each bucket. Is there a natural, logical way you could subdivide it for use on individual web pages? If yes, move the appropriate content to new pages. Pick one word to capture what each resulting page is about. These single words will become menu items later.
If content is highly focused or would benefit from categorization and archiving, consider putting it in a post rather than a page. Blog entries are ideal for posts.
The resulting pages (and posts) will each become a menu item (or a submenu item). Please note that each of the buckets will be represented by one or more pages. In some cases, buckets will become pages. In other instances, it may make more sense to let one or more pages that emerged from a bucket represent the objective in question.
The home page should exist to motivate website visitors to take prescribed actions that will help your organization reach its objectives. This is known as conversion. Conversion mechanisms are devices that entice people to convert. You should include a conversion mechanism on your home page.
The home page should also have a content area for each objective. If it’s important enough to be identified as an objective, it should get its own real estate on the home page.
Once you have addressed each objective with your design, try to cut EVERYTHING on the home page that doesn’t support an objective. This will declutter the page and bolster the messages that you have determined are most important.
We concede that most websites should have a few pages that don’t directly support the almighty objectives. Things that come to mind are Terms and Conditions, Privacy and Contact.
We hope this helps you find a way forward as you are creating and organizing web content.