Your website’s content 100% has an impact on your business. You want that impact to be a positive one, right? Website content is just as important as website design. Both will affect your user immediately when they visit your website. Every business should have a content marketing strategy but first, how is the existing content on your website? Is it helping you or hurting you?
If you website has bad content, the user will connect that to your brand’s name. The experience a user has with your website’s content will determine if they take the next step towards becoming a customer. Make that next step as easy as possible for them.
Website Design Does Not Come First
When people decide they need a website for their business, or their existing website needs a redesign, a common mistake is to think about the design first. The content is an afterthought that has to fit the mold of the design. Using a website design template can make this mistake even easier to make.
What will happen if your content has a beautiful design but is useless? Your website will start out on the right foot if you have content creation and design work in tandem. Have your content writers and designers work side by side to figure out what to say, when to say it, and where to say it.
How to Begin Creating Website Content
Recently I attended a seminar by Briney Urich on “Content: The Overlooked User Experience” where she outlined 3 steps to take when writing your content.
Below I’ll dig into these three steps expanding on what I learned from Urich.
- Align: Determine how your brand translates to digital.
How would your brand speak if it was a person? What tone and style should your website’s content have to match the brand you’ve created? Defining your brand’s voice is very important when you hand over your content to a writer to be created.
- Discover: You know what your business needs your website to do. Get to know your customers and find out what they need from your website.
What information do they need to do the thing you want them to do when they visit your website? Use surveys, social media polls, phone calls, etc to determine what your users are seeking. Getting feedback like this is gold because it’s straight from the source. If you’re able to do this you’re guaranteed to deliver what a user needs, not just what you want them to know. This will make the user’s experience easy and satisfying.
If you have a website already, evaluate your content that already exists based on the feedback you receive. What do you need to keep or remove? Is your content meeting the needs of your users? Are they taking the action you want them to take?
Now make two lists. One should list out your business’ needs and the other should list out your user’s needs. Compare the two lists and where there is overlap, that’s your sweet spot. That is the content you need to present on your website.
- Create: Create a website that includes both beautiful design and content marketing.
Now you’ve figured out your brand’s voice and what goals your content needs to accomplish. Next designers work in tandem with content writers to begin designing your website. Content is not only written but designed. Size and placement matter to meet the user’s needs. This is why it’s important for designers and copywriters to work together.
Test. Test. Test
These three steps should be taken for every page of your website. Once a website is live, it should never just sit there stale and unchanging. Always be testing and reviewing how it’s working for you and your users. If necessary, refine your website content or design to keep improving experience. Test and repeat.
Combining Website Design and Content
Urich also shared a list of content design principles. I think this list is a great compass to guide you and be sure your content is staying on the right path.
Website Content Design Principles:
- Findable: content should be easy to find and interact with on your website
- Useful: content should address your user’s pain points
- Meaningful: say the right thing at the right time
- Credible: content should reassure users that you have their best interests in mind
- Clear: content should speak the user’s language in familiar words and phrases
Common Website Content Errors
While it’s great to know all the right things to do with your website’s content, it’s also valuable to know what NOT to do. In that same seminar, Urich went over some common content errors she runs across constantly.
- Confirm/subscribe shaming - Don’t insult or shame someone because they didn’t want to fill out your form.
Example: A site wants a user to sign up for their newsletter that sends out sale information. It gives the option to select “Yes, I want deals” or “No, I don’t like deals.” I think we’ve all experienced these by now and it typically doesn’t make the user feel any better about their experience with your website.
- Difficult to cancel - If you have a subscription product, make it easy for customers to leave. They’ve made up their mind and will leave regardless. Make the process easy because they could return in the future. Your website should include very easy and clear steps on how to do this.
- Unexplained error pages or messages - The 404 page on your website should explain what happened and give the user options on how to find what they were looking for. If you have forms on your site, make sure any alert messages that may pop up explain what the error is and how to fix it. Write the content in normal conversational text with no error codes.
- Confusing CTAs - Make any calls to action on your website extremely clear. Let the user know what to expect if they click. The language used on CTAs shouldn’t be cute or funny. Only clear and understandable.
Following these guidelines and know your website will be working hard to please your users and future customers. For more tips on making sure your website is doing its job, download our resource for more information on 25 Website Must Haves.