Website content planning is a bit like planning your new house: you must start out by knowing what you want it to look like once it’s complete. If you start gathering your website content without a proper plan, you could very well do more harm to your company’s reputation that you can imagine. This website will your companies definitive online resource for your new and existing customers – the content needs to be right – in terms of the volume of information, what products/services will be documented, what downloadable material will be available, what photos will you use etc.
Ask any internet business owner what his success depends on, and he/she’ll likely say “quality product/service content” and a way of getting that information to your customers. Ask any web designer what his or her success depends upon, you will likely hear “good planning”. When we put these two components together – great content and a good plan, we get the perfect building blocks for a very successful website.
Doing It Right The First Time
Website content planning isn’t just about sourcing the next series of product articles or photos; nor is it about planning who should write your next blog. It’s much deeper and broader than that. After many years of helping businesses and entrepreneurs plan and execute their website content plans, seasoned professionals believe that doing it right first time is a deliberate process. Some companies have 3 or 4 'bashes' at their website and this costs them a fortune, damages their business and needlessly takes up a lot of their time.
Here are some best practices that most high-quality web design firms recommend in order to get your content gathering right first time:
1) Know Your Brand
Before you create your website, you need to know what your company is about. It’s critical for you to know:
- • What value do you want to offer to your customers?
- • What do you want to be 'famous' for?
- • How are you going to differentiate yourself from your competitors?
- • Why should your website visitors choose you over a competitor?
- • What specific “issue” can you solve for a prospective customer?
Without these facts in hand, you cannot plan your website, nor can you start planning the content that appears throughout the site.
2) Know Your Audience
Having understood what you and your company are all about, it’s time to assess who your audience is, and what “makes them tick”:
- • Are you targeting Babyboomers, Gen-Xers or Millennials? i.e. what is the age profile of your customer? If you have a wide age range in your customer profile then you need to know that these are very different customers with different website expectations.
- • Whom are you positioning to serve in that demography: business clients, individuals or specific groups (e.g. home owners, students or stay-at-home moms)?
- • What counties and/or countries are they likely to fall within? Will your website need to be translated or show prices in different currencies?
- • What type of content is that age group likely to be most interested in? 'Internet Genneration' people, for instance, love more video and less text, while 'Baby Boomers' thrive on plenty of text-based content.
3) Know Your Message
Successful web designing is a very targeted endeavour. You need to build your site according to your audience, and craft your message accordingly. While you may be tempted to say the same thing to a 'Baby Boomer' that you’re going to say to a Gen-X’er, that may not work:
- • Not everyone likes to be “hard sold” – you must temper your message accordingly. If your audience feels that your only objective is to push product/service, without regard to solving their issue, you may lose visitors in record numbers!
- • Millennials hate too much detail – but they need the facts to be succinct and concise. Boomers, on the other hand, like to read a lot about your company and your products/services before they buy. Be prepared to share your message in the form that your audience likes: Detailed content for those that want it, with summarised messages for those that like it that way.
- • The purpose of your website will also dictate what your message should be, and how you should craft it. If you are establishing the website to sell, then you need a suitable sales pitch, with “actionable” content at each stage, that appeals to your audience. If it’s just for informational purposes, then you may need a different messaging approach for your content
4) Know Your Objectives
Website content must be planned according to the overall objectives that you set for your website:
- • Are you looking to just capture more website visitors? If you greatly increase your website visitor numbers this will result in more sales calls – but you could be more targeted that this.
- • Is the website primarily meant to build a sales channel, or collect potential leads? Gathering their contact details and adding them to your emailing-list?
- • Do you want to link back to other partners’ (or your own affiliated) websites? Are you acting as an agent of sorts?
- • Is gaining higher web-page rankings on popular search engines (SEO) part of your objectives? This will again result in more website visitors and the resultant visitors are much more likely to become a paying customer.
A savvy web designer will use this information to think about what type of website structure he/she should build, and what type of content they should create to meet each of these objectives.
5) Know Your Content Delivery Options
Now that you know what you wish to accomplish, it’s time to understand how to deliver content to make your website meet those objectives:
- • Some visitors like visiting your site because they know you have helpful downloadable artefacts – Spreadsheets, Word Templates, PDF user manuals, useful Apps etc.
- • Others will visit your pages regularly because of the insightful help resources (White Papers, DIY-Guides etc.)
- • You may also have loyal followers that come for the view – to look at images, graphics, pictures, photographs, info-graphics
- • You make have a site-wide search box that others find useful as it nearly always returns dome useful information to them
- • And your web design must also consider the die-hard video lovers – especially amongst the millennials
- • You also need to consider whether you’ll deliver your message via Blogs, regular PodCasts, Articles or emailed content
In order to appeal to the broadest number of potential customers, your website content must look and feel like a buffet rather than a 2-course meal menu. Plan for as broad a delivery option as possible, and your website will cast a wider net on prospective clients. If you are targeting a wide age profile then your website and content will need to be varied in order to satisfy their individual needs.
This 5-step website content planning approach will help you put together a highly rewarding website and content building strategy. By the time you’re done, you should have a clear picture of what your website and its related content should look like, by the time it’s ready to go live.
Making It Happen
In the web sphere, content is important; but the right content is even more critical. That’s because a great website, with dazzling widgets and flashy add-ons can impress your visitors for a few seconds, but it won’t help in visitor conversion i.e. turning them into a paying customer. Only the right content can do that.
Even though you may know exactly what you want, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the required web designing skills to make it happen. If you are unsure about your DIY (do-it-yourself) abilities, then you definitely need some professional website assistance. Give us a call if you have any questions on the above and we'd be happy to discuss your plans with you.