DESIGNING A WEBSITE: CONTENT

Building a website is a time-consuming, involved task, but when it’s done right, your new website will be the launching point for an established web presence for you and your business or organization. In the first two posts of this series, we covered website planning and organization. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of website building:  CONTENT.

After organization, content is easily the most important feature of your website. For the sake of brevity, we’re mainly going to focus on text content in this blog post. Elements like photos, videos, and other graphic elements will be discussed in a separate post. To see how content comes into play in a website build, let’s refer back to my client’s website tree:

While a website tree serves as the framework of the website, the written content  fills that framework in, providing the details and information website visitors are looking for.

Discovering Content
Our website example for this series belongs to a father/son team who run a manufacturing business. Because I’m not a manufacturing expert, I will rely heavily on my clients who are experts in this field during this stage of the process. I will sit down with them, copy of the website tree in hand, and we will go through it step by step, website page by website page. I ask myself, and them, a whole lot of questions in my quest for information:

  • What written information do you want on this page?
  • What do you want the website visitors to understand after reading this page?
  • Do you have any information about your industry I could read up on as I write content?
  • Are there Word documents or PDF files you’d like links to for this page?

The discovery phase of content is basically one massive information dump from one brain or source to another, and it is vital for me as the designer to stay in close connection with the client during this step of the process.

Writing Content
Once I’ve finished discovering all the content, it’s time to write. Again, this will be a back and forth process of reading and proofing between my client and myself. Going page by page, I take the information they’ve given and I begin placing it in where it belongs. I pay special attention to not only what the message I’m writing says, but also how the message is given:

  • How can we best state things so this page is clear and easy to follow?
  • Am I wording this well?

I’m also constantly keeping the target audience in mind as I write. This content is targeted at them, so I ask myself:

  • What kind of language will appeal to this audience? (Technical, mechanical, personable, humorous, etc.)
  • Am I writing in a way the target audience feels comfortable with and can relate to?

Editing Content
Once the content itself has been written and approved by the client, it’s time to do one last edit. Nothing screams “unprofessional” like spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors. This is when I often call in extra eyes to proof read, as I find that it’s easier for a new reader to spot an error than it is for me.

At this point in the process, it’s a temptation to call it a day. My brain is tired. My eyes are tired. But I have a few fun memes I keep around as reminders that the editing step is vitally important.

Amazing! Okay, just one more:

I can’t stop. That’s so entertaining!

Providing your website visitors with quality content is a winner every time. Although it’s a time-consuming task, creating good, clear content can make the different between a website visitor cruising on by your website or clicking through for more.

Have a great week! I’ll be back next week with a sneak peek into my design process.

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