Web Basics: Content

Written by Daniel Cowan in Design

Part 3 in the Series, Web Basics: How to Crush Your Next Website Project

Introduction

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Creating content for your website may be the single most vital part of the website project, but it is often overlooked and pushed back, delayed, or delegated until the very last minute. As the client-side manager of your website project, get passionate about content. Start working on it early, and be relentless about getting it right.

This is the third post in our series called Web Basics: How to Crush Your Next Website Project. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to successfully get the words and media-ready for when your website needs it. In this post, we’ll be operating under the assumption that you, the client, are responsible for the content of your website. In some cases, you will contract with your web agency, or with a separate marketing company, to generate the content for your website. However, in most cases, for Classic City, our clients are responsible for their own content. So, this blog post assumes that.

Like the quote above says, what people will remember is how your web content made them feel. So we focus a lot on knowing your own brand, knowing your audience, and crafting your web content to invoke the feelings you want them to experience so that they take the actions that you want them to take.

If your brand is a warm, familiar, casual brand, then your web content should reflect that. If your audience is technically savvy and technically minded, then your web content should reflect that. The content on an ice cream company’s website will be different from a financial technology company’s website.

So, What is Web Content?

When we talk about website content, we’re talking about the words, images, and any other media that is displayed on the website.

The written words on the site are usually referred to as “copy.” Copy is a term that refers to any written words intended to be used to sell something.

The copy, along with imagery, videos, blog posts, contact information, etc., your web content will help communicate who you are to your audience, help them feel good about who you are, and take action to become even more connected to your brand.

Typically, the goal of your website is to help convert users into customers, so your web content should be focused on that as well.

How Do I Know What Content is Needed?

That’s a really great question. I would love to tell you! Just look at your approved wireframes or mockups.

The Content Phase typically runs concurrently with the Development Phase (look out for next week’s post about Development). So when it’s time for you to start gathering, writing, and submitting web content, the wireframes and design mockups have already been approved.

Therefore, the easiest way to see what’s needed for your website, in terms of copy, images, etc., is to take the wireframes and just go down each page or page type and generate content for every single place where there is text or media on the wireframes.

In the first post of this series, I shared the following sample Wireframe:

Going from the top to the bottom, here is every piece of content that would be needed to fill out this page. Keep in mind that during the wireframing part of the Discovery Phase, you would have identified the purpose of each section on your pages, so you should already know what these sections are supposed to be doing. If you need clarity, ask your agency.

(Now, typically, your project manager will also create some organized way for you to review content needs, and submit them…you are not expected to do the work of deciphering what each piece of needed content is…but since this blog series is about how to crush your next project, I’m letting you in on a way you could blow your project manager’s mind by being ahead of the game when it comes to content.)

Header – (The logo and horizontal navigation menu) – We’ll assume that we already have your logo and that the navigation menu items were decided on during the discovery phase, so you have nothing to submit for the header on this page.

Hero Section – (Remember that the hero section is the first main section where your user gets to learn about you or learn how they will be successful (the hero) by interacting with you)

  • Large background image – at least 1600px wide – something that gives the user the feeling you want them to feel about your organization. In this case, for the church, it may be a large image of their building/property, or even better, an image that shows what it’s like to be inside during one of their gatherings.
  • Main Headline – this would be the catchy, tagline that gets the attention of the user
  • Sub-heading – This could be more descriptive about your organization

I’m New Section – (the box that overlaps the hero section)

  • Main image for the left side of the box
  • Very short headline
  • Short descriptive paragraph text
  • Button Label – the words on the button
  • Button Target – where should this button go when the user clicks it? In this case, it would likely go to a different page that targets people who are new to the church

Cards Section – (The grid of boxes that makes up the main content of this page) – In this case, the purpose of this section is basically to act as an informational portal that gets the user to different parts of the site that may apply to them. Each card is clickable and will take the user to a different page.

For each card, you will need:

  • Background image – something that gives the impression of what they’ll get when they click on that 
  • Title
  • Description Paragraph – keep it short and sweet
  • Target Page – where should the user go when this card is clicked

*In case you want to see how that website ended up, you can visit https://www.wpcsnellville.org/. This is an older site that we did for a local church, but you can see how the wireframes give a preview of how the site turned out, and what content they added to these sections. (You can also see that some sections were added since these wireframes were created.)

Start Early, and Stay With It

As I mentioned above, the Content Phase typically runs concurrently with the Development Phase here at Classic City. While you’re working on writing and gathering content, our developers are coding out your website.

The Content Phase, in my experience, is the phase of the web project that is most likely to get off track from the original timeline. Clients tend to have many people to consult when putting content together, and it almost always takes more time than the client realizes.

So, you can start early, get ahead of the timeline, and be your project manager’s favorite client. As soon as the Wireframes are approved, you can start working on gathering content. You’ll be crushing it if you take initiative here.

You can make yourself a list like I made above, or you could even let your project manager know that you’re starting early, and see if they can provide you with a content needs list before the official start of the content phase.

How to Write Good Web Copy

Much has been written about how to write good, conversational, compelling web copy. In fact, I’m not an expert on marketing copywriting, so I’m going to present the question, and then I’m not going to answer it.

Google is your friend. Even though managing this web project is likely not your first job, and you may or may not have anyone helping you generate the content for your site, take the initiative to do some reading about tips for writing good copy. Learn from other websites, learn from other marketers. This is your job now, and you can do a great job at it. Don’t be intimidated. Just stay with it.

The One Thing Your Agency Wants You to Know About Content

Keep in mind that any delays in getting content to your agency will result in a delay in your web project timeline. Start Early, and Stay With It. That’s it.

Headshot of Daniel Cowan

Post Written By:

Daniel Cowan

Daniel Cowan removes obstacles, "unsticks what's stuck." Like electrical conduction, he finds the points of resistance and removes anything impeding momentum. He enjoys trouble-shooting for folks that felt like things were moving and then, suddenly, they weren't. When opportunity struck, he and his family traveled the country by RV for over 12 months, more deeply connecting with each other and with the world around them.