There are a lot of things that go in to creating an awesome website. Great design, seamless usability and clean code - to name a few. And your content is right up there with them. Your content is not only responsible for communicating the right message (at the right time) to users, but it plays a large part in their journey through your site, their impression of your brand and ultimately, whether they will convert in to a customer. Quite simply, content is king.
What content do I need?
Start by asking yourself the following question:
"What's the aim of my website?"
This will have a large impact on the direction of your content, and is something you should decide right at the start of the project. Once you've decided the main aim of the website, a planning phase should follow to determine what pages are needed. This naturally will give you an idea of the content areas you need to be considering.
When creating your copy, there are several things to consider before even putting pen to paper (so to speak):
Broadly speaking, website users don't read. Or at least - they don't want to. They want to find out information as quickly as possible, without having to read endless amounts of boring, and slightly intimidating paragraphs. Think of your page as having a beginning, middle and end.
- Beginning: Start the page by introducing the service/product (for example), giving a brief overview. Only a paragraph or so needed here.
- Middle: The core information of your page. Go in to a little more detail, explaining any benefits or selling points etc. For example, if you're trying to sell a particular service and the benefits, consider listing the benefits in bullet points that can be displayed in a more visually appealing way, rather than part of a long paragraph.
- End: Always end the page with a next step for the user. They've read through all your content - now what? Do you want them to fill out a form, download something, pick up the phone? This is key to converting users.
The quality of your content is without a doubt, the most important factor. Not only for your users, but Google too. If you're concerned about SEO and your Google ranking (which you should be), Google focuses most on how good your content is. So as soon as you start to keyword spam every sentence, or copy content from another source - Google will recognise this and rank your site lower.
Ask yourself another question:
"What do my users want?"
When a user is reading through your pages, they want something that flows well. It needs to cover everything they're after, without going on for too long, or appearing too confusing. If you think of the user on your homepage - where do you ideally want them to end up? Within a couple of clicks, they need to be on their desired page without encountering any confusion along the way. And your content needs to assist this journey. Your content should be structured and tell a story. It should naturally lead users from one page to another, covering everything they need to know along the way.
It's a lot to ask, we know. But as soon as you get it right, your user's experience will be much more enjoyable, increasing the chances of them converting at the end.
When do I need my content?
Now, there is some debate as to when content should be provided. As a web designer, it massively aids the entire planning and design phase to have your content from the very start. We then know everything we have to work with, how much you'd like to say, and it helps structure the pages.
But the flip side? Having a page layout to visualise massively aids your process in creating the content. It's very chicken and egg. How do you know what content to provide if you don't know how much space you have?
So when do you need to provide your content? From our experience, the more you can provide at the very start, the better. It doesn't have to be word perfect, but if you have an idea of different content areas and the amount you want to say - it benefits everyone. Our golden rule for content is:
"The page layout should be dictated by content, not design."
You could have the best looking page in the world, but if it doesn't work with your content, it's no good. If you're having to cut things out, or add paragraphs in for the sake of it - things aren't right. The aim of the page is to communicate to users, and content should always take priority over the design.
Now although it's best to have as much content as possible at the start, it can be a very back and forth process between yourself and the designer during the planning phase. And this is a good thing. When planning, a designer will assess your content and lay it out in an engaging way for the user. But naturally in this process, there will be instances where the page will benefit from having something added or removed. This is where it becomes a balancing act of having the right amount of quality content, and the best page layout for the user.
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