Content Design Advice

It's about design not writing

The same content design tips apply regardless of what your website is trying to achieve, our hope is that after reading this you will have a clearer understanding about how to design your content, not just write it.

The more the merrier

A business is often the reflection of its website; so if you are wanting to increase the size and scope of your business, start with the size and scope of your website.

  • Size of Business - Readers naturally make the assumption that the size of a website reflects on the success of a business.
  • Quality and Quantity - Ensure your website is filled with quality content not just a large amount of nothing.
  • Return Visitors - Returning visitors are far more likely to do business with a company, offer fresh new content that will encourage visitors to return to your website.
  • Search Engines - Search engines love content, create topic focused pages to draw search engine visitors.

If you are unsure what pages to include in your website, why not read our guide to what pages should your website contain.

Know your audience

Understanding who your website is trying to reach, can allow you  answer some of the basic questions about how to approach writing your content.

  • Market Sector - Does your business provide products and service that anyone could be interested in or just a small market sector.
  • Readers Experience - Should your content be targeted at readers who are new to your industry or those that already understand what you offer? - or will you need to find a balance between the two?
  • Attention Span - Will you need to instantly grab your readers attention instantly, or would you expect them already to be interested in your website?
  • Visual vs Content - Will your readers respond better to visual stimuli or factual content?

Remember, a website is written for its audience, not for its owner.

Your answers, their question

Whatever market sector your business focuses on, your business is designed to fill a niche, solve a problem, to give that answer. So you have the answer, now all you need to think about is what questions would lead to your answers.

e.g. If someone is unwell, they are far more likely to search for their symptoms than search for the cure. So to find your cure, your website would first have to have to talk about their symptoms.

Think like a search engine

You website content is not just for your readers, it is also the primary source of information used by the search engines. Your website content has to complete three jobs:

  • Find - No matter how well-written and informative your text is, if it does not deliver your website search engine traffic, then it is not doing its job.
  • Lead - Once a visitor has been found your website, then your content has to lead the reader to the information they are wanting as easily as possible.
  • Convert - Then once the visitor has found the information they are looking for, convince the reader they want to perform a call-to-action (contact, purchase, join).

So again you need to think like audience would, what search terms would they type into Google? What questions would they be looking for the answers too? - Make sure you include these words in your headings and subheadings.

  • There is a lot more to search engine optimisation your website, why not read xxxx.

Show, don’t tell

Don't expect your readers to just believe you when you make a statement, explain it to them, give them information, allow them to come to the same conclusion you have.

Also, don't use overly complicated language, keep things simple, if your readers do not understand what you are saying they will leave.

Make text suitable for scanning

Very few readers will ever come to your website just to read it, most will come looking for a specific piece of information, the answer to a question or just to find something interesting to pass the time. So you need to make it easy for them to find what they are looking for.

Don't force your visitors to read every word from beginning to end, give them points of interest so they can skip to the information they are looking for quickly:

  • White Space - White space is your friend not a waste of space, not only does it make your content easier to read but it also allows readers to easily distinguish between sections of your pages.
  • Divide into sections - Breaking up content into manageable chunks, makes content scanning much easier and gives you the opportunity to use Subheadings to promote likely points of interest.
  • Subheadings - Titling up sections of a page not only gives readers quick reference points about the topic of the following text, but also allows the search engines to associate a section of text with important key words. - Subheadings can also be used to express the importance of information.
  • Level of Importance - Place important information in areas that are more likely to be read, readers tend to only read the first sentences or two before moving on.
  • Introduction - Immediately grab the attention of your readers, use the first sentence of each paragraph to catch readers attention encouraging them to read on.
  • Keep it short - Keep your sentences short (less than 30 words) - Remember that the start of every new paragraph is an additional scanning point, so start a new paragraph whenever its sensible.
  • Use Bulleted or Numbered Lists - Rather than writing text-heavy paragraphs, break up information using labelled lists, especially when making multiple points on the same topic.
  • Highlighting - Emphasise important words or phrases using Bold and Italic -  Avoid the capitalising of entire words as emphasis, as this is saved for acronyms or used to express strong emotions such as shouting.
  • Colour - Can be used in a similar manner to Highlighting, but can also be used to express an emotional sentiment; e.g. Green for success or good, Red for failure or bad. - Remember that colours are often used on website to indicate a link.
  • Links - Placing internal links in your text, not only creates scanning points but also helps guide readers around your site. - Don't forget to warn readers that a link would take them away from your website - Remember, you can force a link to open in a new tab / window rather than using the one that holds your website.

Incorporate multimedia

A picture really does paint a thousand words, we all appreciate the value of a visually pleasing image without text and their ability to break up text, but don't forget you can add charts, diagrams and videos to help paint those thousand words too.

But don't rely on multimedia at the expense of text, or your websites Search Engine Optimisation might suffer.

Layered website content

The wonderful thing about a website, is that you can direct readers through your site from one page to another. This doesn't have to just be done through your navigation or side links, you can layer hyperlinks over specific words or phrases directing readers to relevant resources.

These links are not only useful for readers, but also help your website search engine optimisation as any word or phrase used in a link becomes associated with the target page.

Remember - links should always be relevant and do not overload your pages with too many links, as readers will not know what to click on!

Structuring your navigation

Small websites do not need to worry too much about how to structure their content as almost every page can be shown in the main navigation. But as websites grow larger, the problem of how to logically display your pages becomes more prevalent.

  • Multiple Navigations - A website does not have to only have just one set of navigation, additional levels of navigation can be added in different areas of the website. e.g. Super (Above the main Navigation), Footer (At the bottom of a website), Side (to the left or right of the main content)
  • Sub Navigations - By grouping pages together into a hierarchical structure, additional pages can be listed either under the currently opened section or via drop-down/slide-out navigation.
  • Multiple Locations - A page does not have to only appear once in your navigation structure. A single page or an entire section can appear in multiple locations - e.g.
    • Important - If a you want to bring attention to a page that would otherwise be harder to find.
    • Seasonal - If you want to make a section of your website more prominent at certain times of year.
    • Logical - If a page would just logically fit in multiple locations. i.e. a product in multiple categories.

Leave them wanting more

A successful webpage always end by giving the reader at least one call-to-action. There are many forms a call to action can take:

  • Contact - Is there a person to call, is there a contact form or a email address to allow the reader to contact the business. Why not make it easier to get in touch with you?
  • Read - Do they want more information, where can they find it, what else might they like to read that is relevant to what they have read. Why not help your readers decide what to look at next?
  • Purchase - Separating a reader from their hard earned cash is never easy, but you can make it easier.
  • Join - Is there a Newsletter or Social Media group they can join to stay in contact with you?
  • Download - Is there something they can download; an audio file, a booking form or maybe something they can keep.
  • Share - Why not make it easy for your readers to give you free publicity through Social Media by adding links to your social media outlets.
  • External - External links give you the opportunity to provide your visitors with information that you would not normally be able to give. It is good to remember that we don't just remember where we found information, but also how we found the information.

The purpose of any call-to-action is to add to your visitors user experience and to increase the likelihood of generating you future business, directly or indirectly.

Wondering what to do next?

Here at ITchy Web Designs we are open with our advice and freely give it to anyone, if you have not found what you are looking for maybe you will find it in one of our other articles:

Got a question you cannot find the answer too? or just fancy a chat. Give us a shout and we'll see how we can help.