How to organize web content for a redesign
I call “content organization” the “elephant in the room” because it is critical to your online success, but it’s often ignored or under-supported. In fact, many of the projects we’ve seen have come to us with weak content that has been delivered at the last minute. Read this article and do both your website visitors and your business a favor by producing quality content for online consumption.
Sitemaps help organize website content
First, we recommend creating a traditional sitemap to help organize content types and priority. It’s a useful tool that allows the whole team to quickly understand the website structure and where information should be placed.
Current design trends promote simple navigation design. This means that you shouldn’t clutter your website navigation with every type of content you have. When you look at your site map, look for organization opportunities. Try to combine similar content types under primary categories. Streamlining will not only make it easier for visitors to find content, but it will also simplify the look of your website. Work with your design agency to identify what type of interactive menus will allow your site visitors to quickly find the content they are seeking.
Remember, your customer comes first. Think about your target clients and make a short list of your customer personas. Ask questions like,
Who are they?
What are they looking for?
How can you help them?
Also, think about your business goals. To be successful, you need to guide website visitors to content that fulfills your business goals, whether that’s to buy something, fill out a form, call you, etc. Refer to these personas as you create your site map to make sure you haven’t missed any opportunities for communication.
How much content do you need?
The old thinking was that online space is unlimited, so why not put everything and the kitchen sink up online. Today, however, this approach has changed due to evolving behavior patterns and reading habits online. The new approach says that less is more. Remember, the key strategy is to streamline the website content. When you have a lot of detailed information, use links to provide access to that content to readers who are interested. Meanwhile, the majority of readers, who are not as detail-oriented can read concise, informative overviews. This approach is better than putting all of the text on a page and drowning your readers in a sea of words.
Written content best practices.
A compelling headline is required to make a statement and pull the reader into the text. Subheads are also useful to elaborate on the headline with more details. Below that, organize your content so that there is a logical flow that makes it easily digestible. The use of bulleted, or numbered lists, help to prioritize and condense paragraphs of features. “Calls to action”, or CTAs, are interspersed where appropriate to motivate the reader to take action. Also, don’t forget that relevant images, charts, diagrams, etc., help to break up the content and reinforce key points.
Who writes your website content?
Website content is primarily informational. It provides information on your business, products, services, and the industry you inhabit. Sometimes this content can be quite technical with detailed specifications. Other times, content is heavy on the marketing side, extolling features or telling a compelling story. Whatever the point, the content should be written for the intended audience on the internet.
Nothing undermines a brand more than poorly written content. Your best clients want to know what your business can offer before they commit to hiring you. The primary way they learn about who you are is through the text content on your website. If you have poorly organized or written content, consumers will quickly lose confidence in your business. We are not talking about a missed comma or apostrophe- this can often be overlooked. We are talking about syntax, correct usage of commonly misused words, repetitive sentences and too much marketing “fluff”.
So, who in your business writes your website content? A professional writer, or someone who minored in communications in college, or even the business owner? Professional content writers are generally not too expensive. A redesign is an ideal opportunity to have a professional copywriter review, enhance, and create new business content.
Plan to leverage your content.
Keep in mind that the website is only one piece of your online footprint. Other online channels like social media, online partners, and marketing efforts will all feed in and out like a digital ecosystem. When you’re thinking about content strategy, consider how to transform your content so that you can leverage it across multiple online channels.
For example, the information on your top service offering can be repurposed to an article that you can share on LinkedIn. It can also be made into an infographic for image sharing websites, as well as edited into a video for YouTube. Leveraging your content will position you across multiple channels and improve your SEO.
How to manage website content:
In our website development process, once we have the site map, we can create a Content Checklist. This is typically a spreadsheet that mirrors the site map.
It lists the website content areas and the type of content we need from the client. Both the project manager and client work to collect this content in an online storage service like box.com or Google Drive, etc. At any time, the client and the web agency can see the status of required content.
Simple content is easy to collect. If the business has content in blogs, product, or member lists, this content can usually be migrated to the new website. Of course, depending on the layout and content specifications, the content will probably need to be modified manually to fit the style of the new website.
Video is also an important content piece that needs to be identified and collected. Due to the size of video files, it may make more sense to upload them to an online service like Vimeo or YouTube rather than trying to host the videos on your web server. PDFs, audio files, images, and other file formats can all be tracked using the Content Checklist.
What about content formats?
Your web agency should provide a list of acceptable content specifications that will allow for smooth uploading to the website. Pixel dimensions and resolution are important to note when referring to images.
Here are some content organization tips:
- Use customer personas to organize your content in the way they want to interact with it.
- Don’t overload your primary navigation with too many options. Move less important navigation options to the website footer area. Or, use an innovative menu to prioritize the content presentation.
- Build flexibility into your website content areas. This means that your marketing and sales team should have the ability to create new landing pages to support sales initiatives.
Once the content organization has been figured out, you are well on the way to a successful redesign. Finally, although you can learn a lot of basic information from reading and watching this series, you can get much more specific and relevant information by discussing your redesign project with us. We *love* to talk about web projects and brainstorm solutions with potential clients. You can call us directly at (424) 245-5472, fill out our email inquiry form, or simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.