6 Tips to create killer content for your website.
Have you heard the saying “Content is king”? Well, it’s absolutely true.
While we all want a pretty online presence, it’s your text and images that get your message across on your website.
Content should steer the design of your website, not vice-versa.
It can be a challenge and take quite a bit of time to perfect your message and choose the right photos and graphics. But this step is crucial and will help you end up with an effective and strategic website, as well as save you time on revisions and layout changes.
The following tips will guide you through making a plan to create and organize your website content.
1. Define the goals for your website.
What do you want to achieve with your website? What is its purpose?
Before starting any web design project, these questions must be thoughtfully considered and answered.
A food blog will have very different goals than an e-commerce website.
Defining your website goals will help you create the flow and structure of your website, in addition to helping you determine what calls-to-action to include and where.
What is it that you want visitors to do when they land on your website? Some examples include:
Book your services
Buy your product
Subscribe to your newsletter
Follow you on social media
Read your blog
You can have more than one goal for your website, but if you do, you’ll want to determine what the highest priority is and what goals are secondary.
2. Determine who your audience is.
I talk a lot about defining your ideal client and that’s because you can’t expect to connect with her if you don’t know who she is.
This step involves knowing and devloping your brand. If you’re still honing in on your brand, read this blog for help on creating an authentic experience for your readers.
When creating your content, you will want to keep your dream client in mind every step of the way. Speak to her desires and needs, her problems and struggles.
Also, write your text in a voice that resonates with that dream client or target audience. You want to be relatable and show your human side.
It is important to realize that you can’t be all things to all people, so decide who you want to reach and speak to directly to them.
3. Create a sitemap.
This step is where you’ll get into the specifics of your website’s structure. A sitemap is a diagram or outline that illustrates the hierarchy and flow of a website. I use a diagram sitemap with my clients because it gives a visual representation of how the website will function.
To start creating your sitemap, answer this question: What pages will your website need?
The most common pages include:
You might need all of these or just some of them. Maybe you have a very specific niche and will need a specific page related to that. Or perhaps you will need a page for clients to schedule appointments with you.
Sit down and look at your website’s goals and brainstorm all of the pages your website will need. Remember, not all of the pages will go in your main navigation. Some might go in your footer navigation and some might not be in a navigation at all, they’ll just be linked in a page on your website.
Now, on a piece of paper, write the title of your main pages across the top in the order that you want them to appear in the top/main navigation of your website. Next, write the title of your secondary pages across the bottom in the order that you want them to appear in the footer navigation of your website.
The diagram below is an example of a sitemap for a wedding photographer.
Notice that only the main pages are included in the top/main navigation. The objective of this photographer’s website is to showcase her beautiful images and book new clients.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your main navigation to six or fewer links. This will prevent your visitor from becoming confused and wondering how to navigate around your website. Remember, keep your goals in mind and lead the visitor through the various pages so that they see and do what you’d like them to see and do, in the order that is most conducive to getting them to take action (ie. inquire about your services, sign up for your email list, etc.).
Download the Sitemap Worksheet!
Take action and start planning your website content NOW. This worksheet can be printed and filled in by hand or opened and completed in a PDF program on your computer.
4. Outline the content for each page.
You will have already started on this step while creating your sitemap, but now you’ll get more specific. This is where you will make a detailed outline of what will go on each page of your website.
Go through each page and section in your sitemap and create a list of items that will go on that page. Include things like text, images, email sign-up forms, and links.
Notice how with each step we are getting more and more specific and detailed. You haven’t actually created any content yet, but now you have a concrete plan for what you will need to create or curate.
When you dive in and start writing and choosing images for your website, you will have small, manageable tasks that won’t overwhelm you. Tackle one section at a time instead of looking at the enormous project at hand with no clue where to start.
5. Keep it short and sweet.
As you begin to write the text or copy of your website, do a brain dump and get all of your ideas down on paper.
And then EDIT!
Readers have very short attention spans and encounter so much information all the time.
Here are some key points to keep in mind when writing your website copy:
Keep your copy short and to the point. It shouldn’t be a struggle to understand what your website or business offers.
Eliminate unnecessary words.
Use short paragraphs, no more than 2-3 sentences long.
Use headings to break up large amounts of text.
Write like you speak.
Avoid industry specific terms and jargon.
Use bullet points to break up information and make it easy to read.
Keep SEO (search engine optimization) in mind. Use keywords that will help your website show up in Google results.
6. Start early!
Good content takes time. Your website is your business’ online home; you don’t want to just throw together some text and images and say you’ve got a website.
It may be tempting to jump right into the design of your website, but resist. Starting with your content will save you from having to redesign and make lots of changes later.
I don’t start on a client’s website design until they’ve given me their content because content informs strategy, which will then inform design.
- Define your goals.
- Keep your audience in mind.
- Organize your website's pages into a sitemap.
- Break each page's content up into sections.
- Keep it concise.
- And start early!
If you follow these tips, you will have a smooth web design process, whether you are DIYing it or hiring a designer.
I’d love to know, did you find these tips helpful? Leave a comment and let me know if you’ll use them when designing your website or your clients’ websites.