This blog post outlines some key points that will help you to create effective content for your business website.
People Scan & Skim Content
Users tend to scan rather than read web pages. Because of this, short paragraphs, frequent headings and bullet point lists help to keep users on the page and can help to draw them in to explore the site further. Text content should be presented in a web-friendly way, with fairly short, staccato-style paragraphs that are well-spaced.
Images should be used to break up blocks of text, and sentences should be relatively short and readable. Consider adding your most important message in headings.
- Users don’t read – they skim
- 80% of time on a website is spent scanning (not reading) content
- “Front-ending” is critical – put your key message at the top of the page and in headings
Users need to know that they have reached the right site. If your site is for an architectural consultancy, this should be blindingly obvious the instant that the user lands.
There is strong evidence that users need to orient themselves very quickly when they land on a web page. Users may take as little as 50 ms to formulate an impression of a website. This suggests that your business mission should be communicated at a glance – particularly on the home page.
In general, your site should match your user’s expectations – which might have been generated from a referring site, a personal recommendation or an advert. The site should clearly demonstrate it’s purpose at a glance, without requiring the user to scroll down.
Keep the Design Clean
Research carried out by Google suggests that users typically value sites which are simple and designed with a familiar layout.
- If the visual complexity of a website is high, users perceive it as less beautiful, even if the design is familiar.
- If the design is unfamiliar users judge it as uglier, even if the site is simple.
Users love sites with simple and familiar designs.
Tell Users Who You Are
Unless you’re a really well known brand (think Coca-Cola), you need to introduce yourself and your business very early in the user journey. Your mission might be included in tagline format with the header logo. All pages of the site should communicate the business mission or purpose of the site, and this should be supported with a well-crafted “About Us” page.
Make Life Easy For Your User
Your website is a way for you to connect with qualified users. It should allow you to inform them and provoke a response from them. Users might call to hire your services or they sign up to your newsletter.
It must be easy for your user to get the information they need – your contact details should ideally be available on all pages of your site. If your individual “Project” page has succeeded in demonstrating organisational credibility, you should be easily contactable from that page while your user is primed and ready to take action.
Don’t assume that users will necessarily navigate through your site. Requiring unnecessary extra clicks may place barriers between your user and the site goal.
Keep Site Navigation Intuitive & Familiar
Bad navigation and information architecture (the way content is structured) can cause users to leave your site prematurely. Research suggests that when websites have a familiar layout (i.e. with horizontal navigation at the top of page, logo at top left etc), users typically view them as “more beautiful”.
Site navigation should be simple, intuitive and standard. Certain terms like “About Us” have become normalised and site owners should resist the temptation to use non-standard descriptions. If the site navigation does not follow the standard top menu, sidebars, and footer format it should be easily discovered by users – who will not want to search for navigation buttons.
The way you provide content should match the way that people use the web:
- Deliver your message clearly and obviously
- Don’t expect your users to read every word – they won’t
- Text should be well-spaced with frequent paragraph breaks
- Use images!
- Headings are good – put your key messages in headings
- Introduce your business and the site purpose – on every page if possible
- Make yourself contactable – e.g. include contact details in the footer of each page
- Have a strong and well-considered call to action
- Summarise your key points
Good luck with your content – and if you need extra help, get in touch!