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Marketing >> Website Development >> Website Content

Developing website content

 

What is the content value of your website?  Everyone has a home page, contact form, general services, and a nice page about the company.  This is important stuff, but you should also include general content about your industry and things that are aimed at helping the consumer. People like doing business with companies that give them information and it is this information that needs to be turned into content for your website.

Each industry is different but in the home care/healthcare business, your clients have many questions and they often donít understand and have fears related to the aging of their parents.  You and your staff have a wonderful opportunity to develop a tremendous amount of trust by developing content that is pertinent to your prospective clientís life right now.  

Itís a fact, people love to do business with the people that help them the most.  So help them out and help yourself out by developing the kind of content that your customers would be interested in reading.

Contact information

When you are dealing with consumers and the primary purpose of your site is to have them contact you, make it easy for them to do so.  Every once in awhile, you will find a site that either has no contact information at all, or it is buried so deep that you cannot find it.

While advising a client on making their site more consumer friendly, the first bit of information I gave them was to get their phone number out in front of the client.  Never leave it up to the client to come up with the idea to contact you.  

This does not necessarily mean that you have to have your phone number available.  Many businesses have legitimate reasons to prefer the customer contact them via email or some other means.  But you can still have a contact link going to your contact form on every page.

Testimonials Ė Never underestimate the power of a good testimonial so long as it is real or overplayed.  They donít convince everyone, but neither do they hurt.  Where a few people get in trouble with this is when they create their own testimonials or restate what someone else has said.  I donít know why but no matter how hard you work at it, a contrived testimonial just sounds corny and/or hokey.  That can damage you.

Pleasing colors and graphics Ė When in doubt, keep it simple but well laid out.  You need white-space for your text, things should not be crowded and you need to minimize the number of colors.  Keep your audience in mind when choosing colors too.  Seniors often have a hard time with blues and greens, especially multiple shades of each and when you depend on the subtle variances.  Dark blue text on a light shade of blue could be hard to read.

Neither do you want to go to the other end of the scale where it is too simple.  You do have to compare with other sites out there and simply putting a message on a page will not get you business.  You would not go to a professional job interview in shorts, tee, and sandals.  Donít put your professional message out there looking like you took all of 30 minutes to throw this together.

Text layout

Text layout is a fundamental principle of website design that is rarely discussed.  Readers have very little patience when it comes to reading a website and one that is difficult to read will often be abandoned.  The reader doesnít always determine what his issue is with the page that he is annoyed with or even that he is annoyed.  

If a reader has a hard time focusing on the text, in the normal course of reading, he may miss a certain percent of the words and not realize it.  But to him, the text simply makes no sense and he clicks away.

Text on a website is obviously crucial to the ability to communicate with the reader.  Keep in mind that we are not talking about grammar or spelling here, even though those are also important.  What we re talking about is the text itself.

When laying out text, it is not adequate to simply determine that the text is legible, it must be comfortable to read.  Neither is it adequate to identify the text as such according to the writer.  What counts is how it affects your reader and to know this, you must know your reader and also follow general principles of layout and design that are fundamental to the web and to your readers.

White space Ė This is identified as the area of contrast around your text.  If your text runs close to the edge of your document, to the text of another section, to an image or to another colored portion of your page, the lack of white space will make it uncomfortable for the reader to continue reading.

Contrast Ė Your text color must be very different from the background on which it is read.  Younger writers often assume that because they can read the text, so can their readers.  With older patrons, this is often not true.  The best and most friendly contrast that you can use is black text on a white background.  

Though this is most certainly not the fanciest way of presenting your text, it is the safest for reading and the best for printing.  If you simply must have a colored background, keep that color very light while keeping the text as dark as possible and make sure you have even more white space around the text body.

Be sure NOT to go too far with this either though.  Contrast must be pleasing and if you bold every word, that leaves you no room for emphasis and it also becomes hard on the eyes.

Colors are closely related to contrast issues above, but they are worthy of mention on their own.  Many people, especially in ages over 50, have a hard time differentiating between various shades of the same colors.  

Others also have a hard time with certain color combinations such as blue and green.   Blue/green colorblindness is very common among older people, especially men, and very few of them even know that they have it.  Colorblindness does not mean that they donít see the color, nor is it all or nothing.  Colorblindness often comes in stages and in varying degrees with the worst being that a particular color looks gray.  However, partial blue/green colorblindness may mean that someone has developed an inability to differentiate between blues and greens or between varying shades of those colors.

Text size Ė Much of the web is built on type that is 8 pt, probably primarily because the writer wants to get as much on a page as he can.  A younger writer may also choose to use 8 point type because he has no trouble seeing it.  However, at about age 40, a personís vision may start to degrade, and what once was easy, now becomes laborious.  Keep your text large enough for your client to read by sticking to at least 10 point with larger fonts such as Verdana or 12 point with smaller fonts such as Arial.

Paragraph size - Again we are looking at white space here.  We've all seen those pages that just seem to go on and on with one long paragraph.  This problem is magnified on the web because of emitting light rather than reflecting light.  Keep paragraphs short and similar to the length on this page.  What you learned in high school English class about paragraphs does not necessarily work on the Web.

Linking structure Ė How people get from your home page to any other page in your site and how many clicks it takes to do that is of critical importance.  For most sites, this isnít an issue because they have relatively few pages.  However, if pages are buried deep in your site and take any more than 2 clicks to get there, you could have some user issues.  This is not necessarily true however in a directory type structure.  Directories by their nature use a drill-down to get to the most basic information and people are quite accustomed to working within them.

Going deep into your site is however going to affect the ability of search engines to find your pages.  When they index your site, they are only looking for the most relevant information and the assumption they make is that what you place closer to the home page is more relevant that that which you place at the back of your website.

If you must go multiple levels deep, build a sitemap page that carries a link to all of your pages, and then link to that from your home page.  This gets the search engine to every page in two links or less.

The about us page Ė Often considered the most boring page on the site, many companies are loathe to put this page on their website.  The about us page can however, be the most important page you have next to the products or services offering.  

It might not rank in the top pages on your site, but customers who are serious about doing business and on the edge of calling you will visit this page to find out more about your company to find out if you are who they want to do business with you.  If you have them this far and you have some good credentials, go the extra mile and develop this page.

Marketing >> Website Development >> Website Content

 

 

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