You might know what design elements you like or what animation you want on your site, but before you get into any of that “fun” stuff, you need to conquer your content. Content is the heart of your site. A beautiful design is useless if the message isn’t memorable. These six tips will help you and your team combat content clogging.
1) Face the fact early that content is always an issue. There are multiple ways content will be a thorn in your side. You may not have the resources ready to devote time to writing content. You may think simply pulling over content from your old site will suffice. While there is no harm in re-purposing old content; copy and pasting is not a solution when it comes to investing in your new site starting with content strategy. Poor quality content will move from site redesign to site redesign and the overall user experience will suffer. The first step in content clogging is admitting it will be a problem (even if you think it will not).
2) Designate content a content owner. Since content will guide the design of your site, you want to start asking key questions even before a sitemap is developed. The most important piece is does your content have an owner? Different pages may require various subject matter experts. You will need one person assigning pages to these SMEs (even if they are one of them) and holding them accountable for these pages. This content is owner should also be responsible to make sure there is a consistency to all copy on the site. Which leads to our next important point…
3) Establish a voice and tone for all content. A voice and tone guide or content style guide will be useful not only in your site but in your other marketing efforts outside the website such as social media, email campaigns, and any public facing asset. A good voice and tone guide will establish the way you communicate with your defined audiences. There are a lot of online resources to model after including this one from Forbes. We also include a voice and tone workshop in our branding package if you’re looking for a hands on approach to put this together.
4) Find content inspiration. Everyone comes to the table with design inspiration when they are looking for a new website. However, it’s also important to look at content inspiration. When you find a site you like, don’t just look at why you like it from the design elements. For example, one our current sites to references for products is Sequr. Looking at this site from a content perspective, we like that it’s digestible. There are clear, bold headlines, limited text with paired icons, and the features are clearly called out. Even on one of the product pages, there is a headline, “Yup, you can even use your Apple Watch.” There is a clear voice in just this sentence. It might not be what your company is going for, but you can always create your own version of a clear, bold headline.
5) Strive for content purpose and balance. With each page, ask what is the purpose? What is the elevator pitch for this page? If you cannot answer this question in a meaningful way, the page may not be necessary. When we say content balance, we are looking for a general consistency in your length of copy. If the copy is not beyond two paragraphs, it can be consolidated into another page. If the copy is beyond ten long paragraphs, it should be broken up into separate pages. When we create a sitemap, we can’t predict the copy that will live on each page. A sitemap is always up for editing (to an extent) until content is final.
6) Let it be done, not perfect. When we ask for final content before we start design, we mean 95% final. Do not pour over every word or a sentence you don’t like. The delay of content usually comes from too many rounds of editing. What we look for when you hand over content is structure. Content and design are a collaborative and cyclical process. We may start designing and see that we need to trim content here or beef up copy there. If you have edited the copy with a consistent voice, established content purpose, and have consistency in the length, you are ready for design. Do not get hung up on the word “final.”
We are consultants for content strategy. If you come to terms with step one, content will be an issue, you will be better prepared to handle common content clogging issues. We want to keep your project moving as much as you do. If you want to know more about how we can help you create visionary content, contact us.