Tips on how to create user-friendly content

20 August 2010 by Anna Mieczakowski  
Filed under News and views

It looks like a lot of websites out there have problem with sticking to the main topic of content that they initially started to publish on their sites. For example, websites that initially aim to publish reviews primarily about technological gadgets for some time stick to their core interests, however, a common occurrence is that later they widen the scope of their content to Internet technologies such as Web development, emailing, etc. While there is nothing wrong about including other related topics on the website, it is necessary to do it in such a way so that users interested primarily in main topic of the site (in this case gadgets) do not get overwhelmed by a sheer amount of content about something different (i.e. Internet technologies). So, to help you create user-friendly content that is geared towards your audience throughout your site, we offer the following tips:

  1. Create content that meets your audience’s standards
    Firstly, create a main category of content that mirrors your goals and is fully geared towards the main topic of interest of your audience and create subcategories for other related topics. Secondly, you need to ensure that your site’s content meets the comprehension level and topics of interest of your key audience. So, for example, if your site is aimed at teenagers and young adults, then the site’s content should be written in a causal and relatively simple way. If however your site is aimed at highly educated older adults with high levels of professional responsibility then your website content should be written in a more sophisticated and business-like manner.
  2. Create content that complements your website
    Your content needs to compliment your website, namely, it should be relevant to the topics that you cover.  The homepage should have an introduction that gives users a general idea of what topics are included on the website and how they are structurally organised. This practice will make your site more user-friendly and ultimately will make your users want to come back to the site again.
  3. Create skimmable content
    It is very rare for users to read content word by word. It is a more common practice to skim through content in order to quickly find the interesting and applicable areas that users are looking for. Therefore, it is important that you break down your content into short and understandable sections and/or bullets as it will help users quickly and easily find what they are looking for. Another good practice is to make your content more skimmable by highlighting the most relevant keywords or by creating separate titles for several topics.
  4. Create direct and to the point content
    Your content should be direct, to the point and it should give viewers an impression that it is addressing them personally.
  5. Strengthen your argument
    When you make arguments on your site you need to back them up with authentic and respectable sources or facts. Therefore, it is good practice to occassionally link your content to other reputable sources (websites, books, journals, magazines, etc.). Not only does this strengthen the correctness of arguments in your content but it also assure users that they have chosen the right place to read about certain topics. For example, the content of this article is based on Kent House’s in-house expertise, as well as advice provided in external sources such as W3C and WebCredible.
  6. Make your voice consistent through the website
    You need to ensure that your content is consistent throughout your website and does not include any contradictory statements as conflicting content may make your users think that you are covering topics which you do not fully understand and this may decrease your site’s credibility. To avoid this, always check your current content thoroughly so that it relates to what you want to publish. Also, give users a chance to voice their feedback on your site’s content and structure as this will assure them that their opinion is important to you and that you want to make their browsing experience as user-friendly as possible.

I hope that the advice in this article will make you rethink the design of your Web content and help you create more user-friendly sites.

When the campaign ends…page titles

There is always a worry that after spending thousands of pounds on an SEO campaign with an agency, your site will lose its positioning in the SERPs once the campaign is over and you begin to add new content yourself.  Therefore I have come up with a guide on adding content to your site to help you overcome this worry and to continue the work where your search engine optimisation agency left off.

When adding new content there are 6 key areas you need to be aware of.

  • Page Titles
  • Paragraph or Section Headers
  • Words in bold and italics
  • Internal links
  • Images and Alt Tags
  • Keyword selection

For the purpose of this first article I will focus on Page Titles and how they can be “optimised” for search. Before I do that a quick explanation of page titles is probably in order. The page title is what you can see in the top bar of your web browser – it generally shows the website’s name and some blurb about the business or the site. It is prime SEO real estate and a very quick and easy way to improve your on page optimisation.

For a number of reasons page titles are one of the most important aspects of search engine optimisation. Firstly, because they are the first thing that is displayed when a search engine shows your page, so they should always be relevant, concise, descriptive and encourage people to click on your result. Secondly because they are the first thing a robot will see when it comes to your site and thirdly because they are a great way to get some more keywords onto the page and make your site relevant to the crawler for a search term.

When coming up with page titles there are several schools of thought on how to structure them. The two predominant theories go:

(A)    Company Name |Section | Product or Service
e.g.
ABC Ltd | Mountain Bikes | The Brilliant Mountain Bike 2.1

(B)    Company Name | Brief description of what is on the page
e.g.
ABC Ltd | Specialists in mountain bikes such as The Brilliant Mountain Bike 2.1

I personally prefer the second variant as it gives a description of your business which then appears in the SERPs, giving your company a more human face and encouraging people to click on the result. However, when done well either option will help your positioning and continue your site on its way to a page 1 result.

Managing your website’s content

More and more people are coming to see us about wanting to manage their site’s content. This struck me as very surprising the first time I came across it as I had always had access to my own websites when I worked within organisations. The thought of having to pay someone every time I wanted to make a change or add a new page would have sent a shudder down my spine! Who has the budget for that?!

There are only two instances where this kind of thing is acceptable for me. Firstly, if there is a phased project where you need a site RIGHT NOW and the only way to get that done is to let your website developers do it and get it live within the limited time available. At that point, sure you are going to be charged when you want to make a change because there is not enough time to get the site live, to train you and for you to work with the developers. Phase 2 or 3 of your project will then see you being armed with all the tools you need to manage the new site.

The second instance where I can understand people not wanting a content management system is if you truly are on a limited budget and only need a small brochure style site. At that point, yes pay the upfront fee for a limited number of pages and hope that in 3 months you will not want to make any changes to your site. If you do, keep your fingers crossed that you have the budget to pay your developers again to make said changes.

Get a website for £599!

In the world of SEO, content has always been king and getting new, keyword rich pages onto your site is a great way to help your organic search results. Therefore why would web development companies make it so difficult and expensive for you to do this?

The answer lies in the fact that they offer “5 page websites from £599” or “8 page websites from £899”. Using this pricing strategy for web design is a great way to lure people in and then start charging them any time they want to make a change, add a news story or add new pages. From a client point of view, you may have no other choice as you cannot afford to pay anymore than the upfront fee of £599 but, over the life of your affordable new website you would have paid for a well designed, well structured content management system 5 times over and made all the changes you wanted!

Think long term

If you are interested in doing well in the search engines, becoming an authority in your industry or just regularly updating your site to add new images, stories, products and pages you need to invest upfront in a content management system (CMS) or go back to night school to learn how to edit your site in flat HTML. The cost of a CMS may seem big initially but think about the huge benefits to you and your organisation. Do you want to find yourself in a position where you would like to add a new page or fix spelling mistakes on your site, but the cost to do so is not quite in the budget that month?