A website really only has a few seconds to capture the interest of a viewer. Think about this as applied to your own life- the books you read, speeches you've listened to, books you've read. The initial exposure is what will help individuals to determine whether or not they want to spend more time doing this thing that they have been exposed to. This day in age, there is just simply too much competition for time. One cannot expect that people will invest more time than necessary to get to the main point of a website. Proactive content is vital. You must be edgy, but not offensive. You must be willing to amuse and challenge, while never boasting or bragging. Your site, specifically the homepage, should be intriguing enough to be memorable, and should cause the website's visitors to tell everyone they know, that they must visit this website.
Content is the reason that visitors come to a website and will continue to return. When given ample time to prepare, your words and images can be helpful, motivating, and even sparkling. While content is generally defined as text, it is vital to remember that it will also include all visual elements of the site.
Many times when it comes to the design process of the website, content will come as an afterthought. More frequently, the content process is started when the blank spaces in the pages become apparent. This can delay the website delivery, and affects the quality of the site as a whole. If the process of gathering content is rushed, it will likely be written with little consideration for the goals and interests of the sites users.
It can be time-consuming to create content that is expected to follow an approval process. This is why it is recommended to begin the process of creating content as soon as the outline for navigation is made available. Having the navigation outline in hand allows you to see every single opportunity to add new content or to revise content that already exists, especially for the main overview pages.
Knowing that the pages should be organized based on the questions that the audience will ask, the prose will need to be penned, and images selected based on the audiences proficiency and expectations.
As an example, if the primary audience of a website is undergraduate applicants, it is fair to assume that most of them are not familiar with the procedures of the university. Therefore, to better serve this audience you may avoid using acronyms and jargon that is only known by those already in the university. Keep in mind that many university websites have a key audience that is not familiar with the office or departments day-to-day practices. Whenever it is appropriate, try to keep the tone in a conversational manner while being friendly, and photos should be inviting to the viewer.
Once you have decided on a tone for the content, be it casual or friendly, formal or official, this will need to be carried throughout the entire site as much as possible. This is especially true for the overview pages. Each overview page will give the impression that your group is speaking as one voice. This will include referring to the group in either first person or third person voice, but never both. Consistent sentence structures and organized list of links and in parallel ways should be used page to page consistently. In doing this, visitors will become more familiar with the way that you communicate your information and they will not have to relearn the site logic section to section.
The use of proper grammar and spelling will also support this idea of consistency. Aim to use correct and formal names for any specific items on the website on their first reference, and provide any informal names or abbreviations in parentheses next to the formal name. Try to avoid using all capital letters and italics in large blocks of text or as section headers or menu labels. This font type is hard to read and might not print clearly.
Sentences and paragraphs should be short. Because computer monitors are backlit, this makes it more difficult to read contents on the web as opposed to printed material. Shorter text has always been more reader friendly, especially on the main ones of the website.
Aim to limit the vertical length of the webpages to just one screen, as users might not know that they need to scroll down for more information. If there is a large amount of information on one page, you might consider breaking it down into subpages. For the pages that absolutely must have a lot of text, try to break the text up with bullets, photos, or horizontal lines that include subheads. Visitors will find the information that they are looking for more quickly on pages that are shorter and better organized.
Every section overview page will present an opportunity to discuss the group's philosophical approach or an opportunity to describe what makes you special and interesting in regards to the top priority audience. Written-in content should be up-to-date, accurate, and written with a welcome invoice for any reader. Presenting the content consistently and coherently will give a positive subliminal message to the reader about the state of the business.
Hyperlinks should be given in 2 to 3 word phrases, as opposed to just single words. The longer a hyperlink is the easier it will be to recognize. Be careful to word the link in an effort to describe what exactly it links to, rather than a phrase that is non-descriptive, such as “contact us” as opposed to “click here”. This will aid in accessibility for those users that have impaired vision and will also help the visitors of the site who are quickly skimming the content. Be aware of adding hyperlinks where they are not needed, and do not add them to anything and everything just because it is possible. When a link will point to a document rather than a webpage, it is good practice to put the information about it and parentheses, such as (.pdf), (.doc), or (.XLS).
If you have the option to render content as a webpage on your website, it is advisable to do so. This will avoid linking to a PDF or Word document. The visitors of the website will appreciate the effort of this. If you would like to link to a word document, save it as a .doc or .txt only and not as an .HTML. When a word document has been saved as HTML, it appears to the visitor as an undersigned web page with no way to navigate back to the original portion of the website.
Be consistent about which links you choose to open a new windows. Links to pages on your own website should not open a new window, but links to other websites may. Just remember to be consistent with the decision. Instead of incorporating information on your website that is owned by another entity, simply link to this information and categorize it as “related” or “other useful information”.
If the body of the webpage contains multiple consecutive links, do consider taking these from the body of the text and putting them into a bulleted list. When there is a list of links with greater than six items, it can be broken down into smaller groups with subheadings or it may use horizontal lines as dividers.
When you are selecting photos, be sure to pick images that will communicate the energy and vitality of the business. There is likely a diverse community within and surrounding the business, and images that are selected for the website should reflect this. Communicate diversity, including gender, ethnicity, age, etc. Other communication priorities might include showcasing any person majorly involved with the business.
So you know how to arrange the content and the technical portion of it, but what sort of content should you be creating? Start by reading the books and other relevant publications, and then take the time to summarize the reading while documenting your ideas. Another idea is to get together to brainstorm with other like-minded people. Take part in a conversation with these people. Form a group of trusted advisers, and let them fuel and improve your creativity and ideas.
Invest some time in your own self-development. Learn to question the things that you assume are basic assumptions. These would be not only your own assumptions, but the assumptions of those around you as well. You will gain new insight to arrive at novel solutions. You should also be open to both the pros and the cons of an idea or concept. Clients hire businesses not only on the basis that they agree with the widely accepted idea, but to avidly question these ideas and views in order to work toward improving their business. One unique way to capture an audience when creating content is to think about a story.
Create a story that will convey a concept and will force individuals to develop ideas in order to make something more effective.
Reaching out to others is a great way to explore new content as well. You have the opportunity to learn while gaining new ideas and raising the bar for effective marketing while collecting new video or audio content of the interviewee for the website. In the same vein, social networking is a great way to join smart online communities. This enables you to rapidly gain knowledge of what is being discussed or asked, and how you could be help to others.
There are things that are considered “musts”. On the website's homepage, there should be a section devoted to typical results from a client, including at least one video testimonial with text testimonial as well, with attractive and dramatic value. There should be menus that include things such as a client list, contact information, service offerings, product offerings, etc.
Design, content, and strategy/tactics are the three essential blocks to build content upon. One should not exist without the other two, and so on. The design should be professional, attractive, easy to navigate, and engaging. Images should be put to good use here. The content should focus on the interests of the visitors, to put it simply. Always address how you plan to improve whatever it is that they are looking for. It is vital for content to be developed through services, products, and intellectual property, while still consistently evolving to reflect current times and information and the ever-evolving needs of the customer or visitor. The strategy or tactics will define what the business looks like and how it will position itself on the internet, and which components of the internet are vital to making this business a success. Make a decision on how to read and then communicate with website visitors. Are they expected to purchase products, read articles, and communicate on blogs or forums?
Without all three of those components, a website's effectiveness is diminished. A well designed website with perfect content but no strategy is like trying to drive a car with no GPS system or map, and not having a defined destination. With great content and ideal strategies, a poor design with awful navigation will cause website visitors to close their browser or go back to the previous site.
It is not practical to try to label or tag every single item on a website. Put your focus on the things that are most important to the credibility of the site or business. Highlight your strong suits, but don't only focus on those. When using a system such as Google Alerts, your website will be tracked and you will be alerted to being perceived and detected. If the issues that you are highlighting are not the ones getting the most traffic, change what you put emphasis on. It is quite simple.
Create, edit, customize, and share visual sitemaps integrated with Google Analytics for easy discovery, planning, and collaboration.