Does Your Website Content Have a Purpose?
Update 10/24/18: Though I wrote this blog post some three years ago, these fundamentals of writing for websites are just as important today. There is something to be said about the aesthetics of a site (who doesn’t like a cool design?) but it should never be forgotten that a site’s content does a lot of heavy lifting to drive user action. Every page, every paragraph and every word should have purpose and strategy behind it. Even through the never-ending Google algorithm updates and web design trends, one thing will never change: content is king.
-Copywriter, Adam L. Rodriguez
To stay in and study for that big exam, or enjoy the kegger down Greek Row; Yes, we go back to the university days (daze?) to show a prime example of why prioritization is key to success in anything you do. As anyone worth their salt in the professional world will tell you, great work is often a result of a laser-targeted focus and the ability to deal with the most important things first — a virtue that also rings true for your website. Focus on what you want your website to accomplish first, then spend some time dressing it up.
In the SEO world we live in, content has always been king, but more so now than ever. Creating user-friendly content is a strategy that will never become obsolete with Google algorithm changes or stylistic fads. So how can you make your website focus on the important things? Before all else, define what you want your users to accomplish. A vital step to take before creating content or while evaluating your current website is to go through, page-by-page, and define some key factors.
What is the purpose of the page?
It’s a common mistake often made during the planning process of a website’s creation: creating pages with good intentions but never stopping to reevaluate and ensure that each and every page is serving a specific purpose for your audience and your business. Pages should not exist if content is redundant or unhelpful to your audience.
What do we want users to do?
A great method for sorting out exactly how effective your website is is to create what’s called a “Content Purpose Map.” This strategy has you map out exactly what actions are most important for your audience on any given page. Most importantly, it puts creators in the shoes of consumers. This top-down perspective makes strategy all the more simple.
Erika Napoletano, Columnist for American Express OPEN Forum, recommends creating a spreadsheet with what she calls “Olympic Moves.” This method of content purpose mapping involves assigning a Gold, Silver or Bronze hierarchy of moves that you’d like users to make on your site, Gold being the main one, Bronze being a more latent goal. For example, the Olympic Moves for Nike.com’s homepage may look something like this:
Gold: Get users to the “Store” page to complete order on a new pair of sneakers.
Silver: Direct users to subscribe to a monthly newsletter to stay informed on the latest releases and sales.
Bronze: Create awareness of the latest sneakers to hopefully lead to a future purchase.
Once purpose is established on every page of your website, you’re on your way to sharing strategic, helpful and relevant content with your audience and the world. Much like the aforementioned college conundrum of concentration, staying focused on the important things is often the way to a website’s success. Simply stated, strategic content makes your website work for you, instead of you working for your website.