The following is primer on some common areas and issues often overlooked or not fully understood by an organization beginning its online presence. These are some of the topics I discuss with new clients are just beginning their commercial online presence.
I’ll expand upon these topics in future posts, but for now let’s cover the basics.
Content Development: Clear Understanding of Intent
Web users skim, they do not read, and they will leave your site if they cannot understand the intention of your site withing seconds of viewing your pages. Concise, descriptive, keyword-rich phrasing and terminology will not only encourage your visitor to read more (stay), but can also inform, and improve your SEO.
Content Development: Information For Your Visitors
Your site’s content is the catalyst to get your visitors to return to your site time and time again, and if you’re a business; to turn potential customers into actual customers.
Content development is not just the creation of the descriptive and informative text (and graphic) content on your site, but also deciding what to include on your site. The information included should be developed with an emphasis on your target audience. Any site created for a purpose other than personal communication (i.e. personal blog), should keep the visitor in mind when developing its content.
Content Development: Quality
Over And Quantity
While content is king, bad content is… not. Website owners should not cut corners on the quality of content for their sites. Often, budgets are geared more for the design of the graphical content (images, graphics, icons) rather than the development of quality content.
Unless you are creating a portfolio site to display artwork, visitors to your site are looking for information; be that educational or commercial (i.e. product purchases). Part of your budget should be designated toward content development that will draw your visitor in and persuade them to return.
Simply stuffing your site with as much textual information (copy) as possible is not “content development”. Quality information that your visitor wants is much more effective than an abundance of minimal-quality content that the [potential] customer doesn’t want. Or need.
One other note: The graphical appearance of your site does not assist in search engine placement; the textual content of your site does.
Page Design: Consistent and Clear
Textual content development is all fine and well, but the “fun” is in the graphics, color scheme, and layout of your site. You want a site that not only gives your visitors the information they’re looking for, but one that looks great (for those with visual browsers) as well. The theme of your site is what will catch your visitors eyes’ and turn them from “visitors” into “readers” (and “buyers”). A solid design philosophy–that captures the essence of your message–is the key to engaging the widest base of visitors.
The basis of good design starts with easy (to understand and use) site naviagtion and clear presentation of your information. While (good) content is king (and the primary reason visitors are on your site), it’s also useless unless your visitors can find it easily and enjoy viewing it.
Rule of Thumb: “Fancy” is nice, but “effective” is better.
With the abundance of tools available today to create an online presence, it’s tempting to rush through development in order to get "online" as soon as possible. This often results in sites that are not only poorly executed, but actually harmful to the reputation of the company.
Careful planning of your site and its content, and a clear understanding of your target audience, are the keys to a successful online venture.
Well, that, and having something people want.