Two kings and the importance of clarity

In my adopted country of the Netherlands, everyone is focused on the crowning of the first king in over 100 years.  As a web professional, I am focused on another king: content.

Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, the soon to be king, was recently interviewed by journalists.  He spoke clearly with a solid understanding of the issues affecting the Dutch people.  When asked what type of king he would be, he stressed the importance of being yourself.

Inspired by this interview, here are some ideas on how to make your content king.

  • Be yourself – Don’t be afraid to stand out in a crowd. Let people know who you are, what makes you special and why doing business with you is a royal delight.
  • Understand issues of importance Know your audience, show that you understand the issues that are important to them.
  • Define key messages — What message must every web visitor need to understand?  What other messages, do you need to communicate?  If your site has more than one audience, define the key messages for each audience.
  • Avoid clichés — Clichés are ideas that are so overused that they lack meaning. Using clichés show a lack of creativity and weakness.
  • Start a conversation – Willem-Alexander wants to encourage conversation. He doesn’t want people to call him majesty because it hinders contact. Make sure your content encourages conversation and contact.

Above all, remember clarity is your number one usability principle.  It always improves your content. If you’re pro-monarchy, long live the king! And if you’re pro-website, long live your content!

Like this post?  Share it.  Written by Don Seidenberg

Five steps to better web content

content strategy for the web

It’s time to start treating web content like a valuable asset. You can’t cut and paste your way to web content happiness. To benefit from your content, your company needs to have the right processes in place.

In Content Strategy for the Web, Kristina Halvorson outlines five steps to get you started.

1. Do less, not more – Focus on what is useful. Eliminate content that does not support a key business objective or help a customer complete a task like booking a flight. Less content is easier to manage and easier to use.

2. Figure out what you have and where it’s coming from – Content strategy is complicated. Planning to create, deliver and govern content requires input from different people. Do an audit of all your web content. Then evaluate the usefulness of all content.

3. Learn how to listen  – Do some serious listening. Ask everyone involved in the content process about their daily needs and challenges. And don’t forget to ask your customers what they need.

4. Put someone in charge – Empower someone to make decisions on what needs to be created, how it will get online and what happens to it once it’s live.

5. Ask why – It’s easy to publish content but should you? Only publish something if you have a good reason.

Having the right processes in place makes good content possible. So ask yourself what content do we need and why. And remember if you’re looking for web content happiness, less is always more.

Like this post?  Share it.  Written by Don Seidenberg.

Make a content strategy. Part 1.

content strategy for the web

The web has been with us for about 15 years.  Yet, content still doesn’t get the respect it deserves.  We focus on tools, platforms and somehow forget that the web is about content.

Let’s make 2012 the year we get serious about content.  Good web content requires thought and strategy.  Simply put, you need to align your web content and business goals.  This is the heart of your content strategy.

List your short term goals, long term goals and plans for the coming year.  Know who you are trying to reach and the messages you need to tell them.   Then make a plan to achieve it.  Make sure you have enough content to achieve your goals but not too much.

Too much content makes it hard for people to find what they are looking for.   Content strategist Kristina Halvorson has an easy rule regarding what you don’t need.  Unless your content supports a key business objective or helps a user complete a task, it’s useless.

Kristina’s book Content Strategy for the Web teaches you how to create a content strategy and achieve meaningful web content.  If you want to take your website to the next step, hers is a voice you want to hear.

Like this post?  Leave a comment in Dutch or English.  Or subscribe to my blog updates. Written by Don Seidenberg

Is your website a horse or a camel?

It’s been said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.  When you try to please everyone, your well strategized website becomes all things to all people.

Everyone has an opinion and everyone has to be heard.  Decisions are often made for the wrong reasons like to soothe someone’s ego or to keep peace with the content owners.  A successful site can never be all things to all people.

Resist the temptation to listen to everyone.  Think about the purpose of your site and who you are trying to reach.  What should your site tell customers, job seekers and investors? Think about what you want those people to do on your site.

Hopefully your next site will be more like the horse you planned rather than the camel you didn’t.

Like this post?  Share it.  Written by Don Seidenberg.

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