Website Content- What Should the Pages & Priorities Be?
Developing a new website includes many phases and steps. A common question that arises when discussing the development process is “what is the timeline for completing the site” and “when can we plan on the website going live”.
In our website development process there are consistent steps, designed over time, to help bring a framework to the project. Most of these steps can be well defined in terms of how long they will take.
However, one step stands alone as consistently unpredictable: the content. We have seen websites that were planned for months take years because of the lack of preparation and dedication to content.
That doesn’t mean your site is going to take years. But it does mean that the content phase will typically take longer – and be more involved – than you perhaps expect.
And content is never done. It’s a fluid and ever-growing part of a valuable and effective website.
General Content Tips:
Make things easy to find. Instead of putting all your products or services on one single page, create an individual page for each. On each page, focus specifically on that product or service and create copy that answers questions and helps your potential customer see experience and expertise in your company.
Give specific examples of how your product or service helps solve problems for your customers or of the features and benefits it offers.
Put your customer first. What would you want to see for information that would help you feel good about choosing your company over your competition? Better yet, what are they asking about, and are you answering?
Look at each product or service page you’re creating and ask yourself if you’ve provided the information most customers need to make a decision.
Remember that you will be more comfortable and knowledgeable about your products and services than most of your customers. The things you may think “everyone knows” are oftentimes the best content to put on the pages.
Context is important. When creating copy for your pages, be sure to use language that your customers use. Avoid industry terms and acronyms that may not be familiar to the people who buy your products.
If you can, use stories or provide real examples of what you’re talking about.
Add video, images, and graphs if it makes sense. If you’re speaking to a particular industry, use terms that help them connect their needs with your experience and expertise.
Demonstrate that you understand what problems or goals your customers have and how your business can help.
Your website should feature a variety of page types, depending on the size, type, industry, and more of your business. For simplicity’s sake though, there are two types of pages you should be thinking about as you put your content plan together: Pillar pages and Resource pages.
Pillar pages – Think of these as the foundation of your site. The frame of your house. They contain general information about the who, what, where, and why of your company. These are needed and important. They will most likely be edited slightly over time but most will not change tremendously. A majority of these pages will be in the primary navigation menu.
Examples of pillar pages are;
- Your core services
- Your contact page
- Your mission, vision, values
- Your team page
- Your origin story page
- Directions & locations
Resource pages – If we continue the analogy of the house, these would be the furniture and fixtures. They provide personality, comfort, features, and tone. They bring experience to light. Help teach, educate, and guide customers. They are ever-changing, and expanding, and have served very specific purposes. These pages typically don’t show up by name in the navigation menu.
Examples of resource pages are:
- FAQ articles
- White paper downloads
- Your insights
- Blog pages
- Events & News
So there are no rules on what to focus on first and what is needed before launching your website. There are a couple of truths to take into consideration, however.
- When planning to build your website, content is typically the area that takes the most time. Since the pillar pages are the foundation of your company and your revenue, it may be in your best interest to start with those.
- Resource pages, by nature, will expand and grow over time. These pages are never really “complete” as they represent the bulk of the ongoing content creation process. If you’re building a new website, it’s probably best not to have these pages hold up progress.
- However, a website that has only the pillar pages is functional. But much like that “all white paint” apartment you moved into once, it will lack personality, perspective, and authenticity if not complemented with resource pages.
In the last 20 years, website development has morphed and changed greatly. From presentation to content management systems to optimization tactics. However, the one constant that remains in the development and design process is the unpredictable timeline that is content creation. Unlike any other part of designing and developing websites, nothing challenges a predetermined timeline and launch date like developing, editing, and approving content.
Bottom line – content will take longer than you think and is a never-ending process. If you’re building new, have a plan in place as to what are the absolute “must-have” pages to be completed before the world can see your site and what are the pages can be finished, expanded, or even created after the website has gone live.