In the previous post we discussed the foundations of an effective web strategy: What overall goal do we have with the solution, and what do we know about the audiences we want to influence? Now, we will use this knowledge to figure out what the site ought to contain and how it ought to function for us to accomplish our objectives.
(This is part 2 of a series of articles – Read part 1 here.)
1. What kind of content should the homepage have?
What content should we fill the website with? How well we respond to that question will determine how successful the website will be. We, therefore, need a systematic approach to content planning, to ensure that the end product will be great!
Each ‘bit’ of content is called a content element, and each content element must have a good reason to earn a place on the homepage. So how do we identify these content items?
Here we must return to step 3 in the previous post and answer the following questions:
- Which content elements do we need to ensure the target group’s expectations and goals for their web search?
- Which content elements do we need to safeguard the company’s goals for the website solution?
Typical examples of content items may be:
- Credibility-building content
- Contact information, opening hours and directions
- Product descriptions and prices
- Company info
P.S. It is important that we also reconcile the content elements internally so that we avoid creating “separate” web pages for each audience. Many of the audiences will have many overlapping targets, and it is the overall picture of these user objectives that must form the basis for the descriptions of the content elements. Remember that each user must experience the website as a sensible whole, and not get confused.
See visual representation below:
2. What means of communication should we use for the web strategy?
The content elements we have defined can be produced in a variety of formats and genres, and here you have to think a combination of efficacy and cost-benefit. You can, for example, choose to present your company in the form of a video, but also use text or even an infographic.
If you have a very visual product you may want to display with video or photos. A service is often prepared best through text or graphical models.
Here is an example (not exhaustive) of some of the elements and instruments to a fictitious company:
3. Menu structure and homepage elements
Once we know what content the website will have, the next step is to structure that content on the homepage and in the menu, allowing users to navigate to the content they are looking for as easy as possible. This will give a solid basis for you to make a handover to the designer, and from this basis will draw up a framework design (wireframe).
Menus are a form of navigation which ensures that the user will find information that you do not necessarily have placed on the home page. Your menus must, therefore, be logical and unambiguous, yet not contain too many levels.
Your Home Page is the place to put your key messages (front page elements). This is typical content that captures the users’ attention and makes them interested in exploring the website forward. Home Elements must, therefore, build credibility and be relevant to the target audience.
Examples of front page elements:
- Top Graphics with logo
- Top Menu
- Search Box
- Language selector
- Links to other websites
- Homepage ‘hero’ element
- Ingress to your Company
- Featured articles (products, customer references, relevant news, premium content, value proposition etc.)
- Logo Carousel (customer references, memberships, certifications, appointments)
- Wallpaper / Graphics
- Feed from news page or blog with the x past posts
- Contact info
- Opening Hours
In most cases only, a select few of these should appear on the home page so you need to think carefully which page elements would be best suited for the Home page.
4. Core Message
The next step is to define the core messages and how these should be made visible from the outside for the search engines.
A core message is a topic your prospects actually hunt for when they search on Google. If you are looking for maintenance-free windows to your house, then you will want to read about this very subject – and you are not interested (yet) in knowing anything about the company who makes them. For a great web strategy, the core message will likewise have your value proposition in it.
More examples of core messages:
- To read about a movie is the actual film description which is the core message.
- If you need info about Abraham Lincoln, then there is the concise biography of him on Wikipedia which is the core message here.
- If you need a supplier for a new website, you will read about what a web design company says about that topic.
When we develop a new website, we always begin with the core message that your users are concerned with, and plan from there.
How we work with the core message:
- Write down the core message
One short webpage with a fact-based positioning text of the message, which is angled towards the value for the customer. Maybe you should give the visitor the opportunity to go further to more in-depth texts and additional resources.
- Plan how to direct potential customers to the core message
Organic traffic (SEO)? Paid (banner ads, retargeting, audience targeting, SEM)? Directory entries? Social media? Links? Other channels?
- Schedule CTA’s from the core message
A CTA (Call to Action) is a button / banner that will trigger an action. What do you want the visitor to do? Send an inquiry? Purchase? Download content/product? Take a test?
- Plan in possibilities to go more in-depth from the core message
This may be an academic study on the subject (“You ought to think about …”), customer references, usage examples, product/module descriptions, interactive tools, calculators, wizards, product configurator, animations, memos, methods, etc.
- Develop dramatisation
How should the core message be conveyed to create interest at the first visit to the page? In addition to text, do we want to use pictures or video?
5. Conversion plan and CTA’s
Here you shall, for each target group, describe an ideal website visit. Starting outside the company’s website:
- How do they arrive at our website?
- How do they navigate while on our website?
- What influences do we plan for the visitors, for getting them to act the way we want (=> “conversion”)
Too many websites are currently underperforming because they do not use CTA’s. A CTA must be planned, measured and continually optimised to ensure that your home/landing page is producing the results that support the overall goals we defined in step 1 of the web strategy.
This and previous post summarises briefly how you create a web strategy. They are based on our project methods for website design, which we have used in our customer projects, which over the years are hundreds.
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