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
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 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
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
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
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
by their nature use a drill-down to get to the most basic
information and people are quite accustomed to working within
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
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.