While there’s an increasing emphasis on including engaging visuals and video in website design, we believe that nothing will ever take the place of well-written copy. We call content one of our four keys to a successful website.
We’ve assembled some key questions to help you establish your intentions and objectives for the copy, or written content, on your site. These questions are relevant whether your own team produces your content or you work with Hub & Spoke or another provider.
Although it might not be necessary to recreate the existing content you have, the following questions will establish a foundation, whether you are making small changes or need something entirely new.
Start with the basics.
In a single sentence, how would you describe what you do?
This is a fantastic leadoff question, but it’s not the easiest one to answer. You shouldn’t recite you mission statement verbatim, or list the things you provide. The ideal answer to this question should be off-the-cuff. The purpose of the query is to establish what your non-profit or company provides in a sincere manner that strikes the balance between staying grounded and thinking big-picture.
For instance, if you were to work at a non-profit focused on helping homeless youth, you could say: “We open doors to children in need across America. We believe young people should know that they aren’t alone and can get help.”
This response comes across as genuine, and it clearly articulates what your objective is. Distilling the work your organization does with this approach can be beneficial to conveying the message of each piece of content you put out there.
What is the mood you want to develop?
The tone of your writing should be transparent and ongoing throughout the entire site. Tone concentrates on how a message is articulated and must capture the persona of your organization. What feeling or attitude do you intend to project? How do you want your narrative voice to be perceived? (Formal and sophisticated? Personable or laid back?) Figuring out the general tone will establish the most basic of your content choices, including style, length, and whether to write in a third or first-person perspective.
Also consider how your website content will help create engagement, for example with donors of volunteers for your non-profit or with customers for your business.
Exactly what is wrong, and where? And what isn’t there?
Pause a moment to consider your current website and all the other written content that helps articulate your message. Now put it in the context of the website you hope to build. Does it fit? Does it still reflect the way you see your mission today? How will it mesh with the other design elements of the site?
Asking these questions will help you figure out what you don’t care for on your existing site. Deciding what not to include, while difficult, forces you to think critically about what you want your website to do.
What do you want to carry over from your existing site?
You don’t have to get rid of everything just because you’re revamping your website.
Take a breath, and remember you’re not starting from the beginning with your written content. Ask yourself what things you want to keep and put on the new site, either as they are or not.
For instance: “We love how the existing site features testimonials from our program participants and we want to keep doing that.”
If there are things worth preserving for the new site, that’s fantastic. Simply think of methods you can use to rejuvenate it. Look through your site like a new user would, then like a returning user would. How can you make small improvements to what’s already there?
But remember, the average attention span is less than eight seconds, possibly closer to four seconds for online websites.
What content is lacking on your site, and why is it needed?
Take stock of content that needs to be refreshed, rewritten, or created from the ground up. Be mindful that this can differ in scope. You don’t want to get carried away trying to include everything, nor do you want to include too little.
Your answers will address what is missing from your old site so that you can add it to the new one. Understanding what more is needed will help set the rest of the content in motion, whether that’s writing staff bios or scripting explainer videos.
Whether you want to adjust your St. Louis web design, totally overhaul it, or you are building from scratch, your written content is an important aspect of the site’s makeover. Let us know if you think we can help with any part of the design process.