Love your website or let it die
Having reviewed countless websites it is clear that organisations often only consider how their content is structured once it has reached a stage where it becomes necessary to rebuild the site. It is as if after a website is launched they forget about the principles that led to the redevelopment in the first place. Content is added without considering how it fits into the existing structure or even if the structure is suitable.
Websites are living things that need to evolve and grow, that need to adapt, and content needs tend to change over time and so, it is important that these changes are carefully reviewed. As new content is added and developed, the existing structure may no longer be suitable. Trying to force content into existing hierarchies may affect the navigation and may make information difficult to find. Plan for it, make sure you can clearly identify who is responsible for which content on the site, and make ongoing maintenance part of the original site planning.
Even a simple site with relatively stable content will deteriorate over time without basic maintenance. There should therefore be careful controls on how content is added and how your website changes over time. Without this type of ongoing assessment your website that started out so user friendly and loved will begin the slow process of deterioration. Even the most beautifully designed website cannot compensate for an infuriating structure that makes content impossible to find.
Do you have a content plan?
Organisations rarely plan for the review or removal of unnecessary or outdated content and so, as more and more content is added, these websites become bloated with thousands of pages, media items and out of date content impeding navigation through the site and preventing nonprofit organisations from delivering on their goals.To prevent this occurring it is important to have a content schedule outlining what content will be created, when it will be created, who will create it, who will maintain it, and what categories it belongs to.
The content schedule should not only include articles and blog posts but also social media updates, reports, photographs, videos, events and activities run by service providers, stories and content relating to the fund. The content schedule will enable you to manage our content delivery, and will help to ensure that a variety of quality content will be dispersed through all channels in a controlled and organised way.
Are you thinking about your audience?
Make sure your content aligns the goals of your organisation and with the expectations of your target audience. If you want to build a thriving community around your cause, you’ve got to consider the people who are going to be reading your content and the experience that you want them to have. All content published on the website should exist within the frame work of the tasks that visitors need to complete.
Does it have a purpose?
If it does not align with these tasks or your goals then consider whether it should be published at all. Remember your content is meant to serve a purpose. Displaying too much information may confuse users and make relevant information harder to find. So before you decide to publish new contentensure that your content is in alignment with your objectives and the needs of your visitors and the reasons they have come to your website.
Is your content inspiring?
Think about what makes you special. Focus on your passion and what makes you unique in your space. Why are you different? Why should people care about your cause? Get very clear about what you do well and why and then make that what you’re all about. When you write with passion, in your own original and unique way peopel will love what your content and want t oshare it.
Are you adding value?
The more value you provide with your content, the more desirable you become, the more trust you build, the more you appeal to the person who is on the other side of that search. If it does not add value then don’t post it. What can you help them learn or better understand? Can you change their mind about a public misconception or challenge their beliefs on a particular subject? Unicerf created a great video that showcased this concept. How can you serve their needs? Can you provide advice, ideas, instructions, suggestions, a guide? Your goal is to focus on providing quality content that that people really want (and are searching for)
Where does it live?
An important part of updating your website content involes reviewing your information architecture (the structure of your website). Your content should be organised so that it is easy for your visitors to find relevant content and that is intuitive. Departmental silos are extremely prevalent when it comes to website content. Often content is published to sections of the website owned by the department that created the content without consideration of the expectations of our audeindces. While this can make sense it is rare that the structure of an organisation is neatly defined and it is a mistke to organise content in this way.
Visitors do not recognise these types of distinction and instead search for information based on their needs and the tasks that have brought them to your site. By considering your audience and the task that brought them to your site you can ensure that you’re providing the best user experience. This may mean that you need to reassess whether the content can be ramed within the existing structure or if the structure of the site needs to adapt. If you have making substantial changes it may be bnecessary to run a card sort to determine the best way t ostructure the content. Theer are a lot of online card sorting tools that makes this process easy to manage.
Is your content any good?
The advantage of online communications over print media is the capacity to measure reach and engagement. Tools such as Google Analytics enable us to determine traffic to our website and identify which stories have been most popular so that we can plan web updates that interest our readers and increase participation online. Social media also provides us with a quick way to determine the relative popularity of the stories we post by looking at how they are shared or if they are liked.