Design for Web Content

The most important part of your website is the content itself. You have something to say, and you must make sure you say it, or all your effort has been wasted. But there’s no point in just regurgitating a few paragraphs of marketing hype – web users are surprisingly savvy, and they can see through that in an instant; an instant in which they will have hit the back button and moved on down the list of search results.

You need to find out what people are looking for, and give it to them.

Do some research; think about which terms you would use to search if you wanted to buy your product, and then look them up. Have a look at who your competitors are, and what they are doing. Research on Wordtracker and see if there are any other keywords you could try.

Then use your imagination. Think about why people might be looking for your product and write for them. If your site advertises a skiing hotel in Switzerland, don’t just advertise for ‘hotels in Switzerland’, provide useful articles about skiing, and then point them to your hotel in the middle of a ski resort.

When you know what content you require, you need to write it. The key to this is that it must be written well – you want people to read it and find the information useful. There’s a lot of rubbish out there, and if people find a genuinely useful article they will remember it and come back for more. With that in mind, here are a few ideas for writing better content:

  • Write clearly. Write succinctly. People get turned off by huge blocks of text, so keep it as short and sweet as possible.
  • Don’t feel you have to explain every little thing, but don’t assume that your readers know everything that you do. If they did, they wouldn’t be reading your article.
  • Use references to strengthen your arguments, and link to sources where people can get more information. Don’t be afraid to link to sites other than your own. It will only make people trust you more.
  • Talk as yourself. It’s the web; you can and should be informal. People like feeling that they are listening to a real human being. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.
  • Don’t overuse colloquialisms – not everybody is from the same country as you, and it’s easy for things to get lost in translation.

For more information, have a look at our article about optimising your site for the web [http://www.herdsofwords.co.uk/articles/optimise.html].

Design for ease of use

People don’t like reading as much text on a screen as on a page. Therefore, you must make things easy for them. Design your website to complement and enhance the text, and be careful not to overwhelm it with fancy menus and images that distract your readers from the important stuff: your content.

Split the text into easily digestible chunks; use short paragraphs made up of short sentences. Give each topic its own separate page if it makes things easier to read. Five concise pages are better than one single sprawling mass of text.

Use bullet points and lists to make things simpler. Emphasise important things using header tags or bold to make them stand out. Basically, try to break things up as much as possible into smaller sections that people will be more inclined to read.