So you’re ready for a new website? That’s super exciting, a little scary and probably a bit out of your comfort zone. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you. In fact, when it comes to designing and developing websites, it’s our job to know the ins and outs of the process, from site plan layouts to code lingo. But when it comes to content, that’s when we look to you because you are the content experts for your organization, business or service. To be frank, it won’t matter how beautiful the site design is (and it will be) or how functionally sound it is (yup, we’ll take care of that too) if the content (i.e. the copy, information and photos) isn’t valuable.
What does that mean exactly? Glad you asked.
While there are no hard-and-fast rules in the content game, most successful content today is laser focused on providing its audience with valuable information in a voice and medium tailored to users’ preferences. What attracts a 20-something, single male is going to be wildly different from the needs of a professional event planner or parent planning a family vacation. Some groups and messages might get more from a quick video, while others work better with words or slideshows with terrific captions.
Getting and keeping your audience’s attention through valuable content is becoming increasingly critical: Google has adjusted its SEO criteria to search for sites that promote meaningful content by demoting sites that cause people to pogo stick out of them as soon as they arrive. In other words, if someone arrives at your site because they found you in a search, see nothing of value fast enough and jump back to the search query page, you’re gonna start showing up lower and lower in everyone’s searches. That’s bad news bears.
Maybe all this seems like a no brainer, but plenty of organizations don’t really analyze their current content prior to embarking upon the redesign process. Taking the time to clean your virtual house will help you understand the content you have, plan for the content you need and also determine what pages of your site are important to the story you are telling. Here are two critical items to think through even before you start working with your website partner:
- As with design, industry trends change over time. Does any of your content reflect current conversations or leading-edge ideas? Or does it read more like so-five-minutes-ago status quo?
- Does the tone and personality of the relevant content still fit the brand? If you have recently refreshed or plan to refresh the brand, you may need to rewrite the keep pile of content to ensure that it doesn’t sound dated (we’re looking at you #onfleek).
Once you have a full pile of fresh, rewritten or simply edited keeper content, you are ready to really get the website development process rocking and rolling. If you share it with your web partner during the informational architecture phase, they’ll better understand the importance and hierarchy of certain copy elements. If you can’t get content to your web team prior to wireframe creation, it’s cool, you’ll just need to share the content in time for actual development.
It’s a process, and, we know, a daunting one loaded with sometimes emotional debates. But think about it: Your website is the digital tale of your organization, and when you are redoing it, you get the opportunity to tell your story in a new way or perhaps tell a new story altogether. Either way, we as designers and developers can’t tell you the story; you have to tell us. And when you tell it to us well, we can make sure your target market finds it as captivating as you do.