When it comes to websites, too often we spend a lot of time on the bread but not on the meat. We design a great look, pop in animation, make sure its working on different devices but fail at the main reason we do all this work – content. Content is the meat in the sandwich, it’s the reason to build a site in the first place and it should be at the top of our list. Here are a few ways you can spruce things up – that is if you’ve made it this far – it’s been a long paragraph.
1. Tell a story
We are all from a culture of storytellers and are naturally drawn to them. If you can tell a story, you are more likely to have people want to find out what happens. How many business books have you read and stopped one third in? How many fiction books have you read from cover to cover? The difference is story and the anticipation of a payoff at the end. If you can craft your content regardless whether or not its text or a video you will have a reason to stick through to the conclusion.
2. Stop talking to yourself
Stepping away from what you think is important and finding out what your audience thinks can be difficult. That’s where personas comes in. Personas are a great way to identify the unique users that access your application. A persona is basically a breakdown of who your target audience is and what they are likely to do online. Armed with information like this, you can find strategies to talk directly to these people.
3. Less is more and lesser is more…er
Our attention span is getting shorter and shorter as time goes on. We live in an age of snippets and are getting used to scanning for headlines and bullet points. To expect someone to be keenly interested in your four page ‘about us’ statement is lofty at best. To take a page from the editor’s handbook, cut as much as you can – then cut again. Another way to approach it is to go mobile first. If the content is effective on a phone then it’s going to work on a desktop.
4. Design your content
Web content is typically left to the last minute and then vomited in to the content manager from a company brochure or some other communication. Design is mostly spent on the wrapping around the content – typically a home page and a sub page. Little time is spent on designing the content itself which is probably the most important Interaction the user will face. Look at each page individually. Are there ways to break up text or replace areas with images or diagrams? Can you use pull-quotes or deck copy? Would a video work instead? See if there are ways to avoid putting up long pages of wall to wall text.
5. Spread it around
One of the best parts of social media is the ability to share obviously. So don’t put your content in the corner – show it off. If its a video put it on YouTube or Vimeo. If its an image put it on Pinterest or Flickr, advertise new articles on Twitter or Facebook. Or do it all – why not? Get the most out of your hard work.
6. Change stuff
If you want return visitors then there needs to be a reason to come back. There are a lot of side benefits to this as it’s boosts your Search Engine results, it gives you a reason to post via social networks to drive people back to the site and it keeps it topical.
7. Keywords and SEO
Google loves relevant content. if you want to get up the rankings then there’s no better way than talking about the subjects that you want to compete in. Make sure you use the keywords that you would normally use in your meta data within the content itself. If you don’t tag your content, you are missing out on one of the great advantages of all your efforts.