elcome to the next post in our series: Your Website Sucks. Last time we talked about layout and how having an inefficient and not user centered layout affects your user’s experience.
Welcome to the next post in our series: Your Website Sucks. Last time we talked about layout and how having an inefficient and not user centered layout affects your user’s experience. Now, we will focus on the real meat of the proverbial website sandwich: the content. (No offense to any vegetarians or vegans out there.)Website content works to its maximum potential when it is laid out in the right manner. We covered that extensively in our last post, so what three things make up good content? At Open Design, we focus on quantity, quality, and variety.
We hate to say it, but size really does matter, at least for website content. When it comes to content, the size of your paragraphs and pages does make a difference. While you do want to be straightforward and focus on keywords, you also want to make sure you are hitting some of the text length standards. For instance, your homepage should have about 1500 total words on it. Now, that does NOT mean youhave one paragraph with 1500 words. That would be the equivalent of this blog smack dab in the middle of your homepage. User friendly? Absolutely not. If that seems like a lot of words, it is, and it isn’t. When you think about how many sub sections you have on a homepage, it makes sense. You have a couple hundred words per section, but they are separated so it is not too overwhelming. So, do you need that many words on a subpage? No. Subpages should have between 500 and 700 words. One or two paragraphs should be enough on each subpage. Subpages go into more specific topics, so you don’t need as much text. Here you can focus on the specific topic at hand and portraying that information succinctly.
Your website is only as good as the text and images that are on it. If you throw a bunch of random content on there, without refining it, your website could end up a messy jumble of themes and snippets. Your content should be relevant, written well, and in line with SEO guidelines. Relevancy is key for website content. Don’t write about things that are not relevant to your company, your users, or what you are offering. If you are a plumber that for some reason does not fix water heaters, don’t advertise that on your services page or write a long blog post about the average life span of water heaters. While this may be good information, it is not relevant to your company or your services. Always make sure that the content you have is applicable for your company. The rule of thumb for website content is to write at a 5th grade level. Why a 5thgrade level? Writing at a 5th grade level is to the point, uses common words, and is clear. So, what does that mean? It means you definitely do not want to be verbose or use words that people do not use in every day conversation, as illustrated by this long sentence and the use of the word verbose. Just remember to dumb it down a little; you aren’t writing a college paper. The third part of quality is focusing on SEO keywords and geo targeting. SEO keywords are words that get a lot of hits from search engines. Within your content, SEO keywords and phrases help people find your website through search engines. If your website is well optimized, it will speak the same language as your users. Essentially, you have key words and phrases on your website that the average Joe would also type into a search engine. There are several sources that have compiled common keywords that relate to your profession / industry / topic so that is always a good place to start.
Geo targeting is what helps refine your location. You want to include your location (or service area) in some of your headings and your text so it again, gets picked up by search engines. For example, if you are a plumber in Sterling, VA, on your services page, you could have a sentence that says, “providing same day service to homeowners in Sterling, VA” or a heading, “Affordable, Same Day Service in Sterling.” These are just two examples of using geo targeting in your content.
The last item Open Design focuses on for content is variety. We talked about it briefly in our last post, but it bears repeating. You must have variety in your content. This means having text, images, and video on your website. Variety in content not only provides the user’s eyes with some needed breaks, but it also addsto the overall usability of the site. No one wants to go to a website that only has content, with minimal pictures. We are all visual creatures, so a lack of pictures makes it harder for us to visualize things. This is especially true if you are selling something. It isn’t just enough to describe the item, you need pictures too! Pictures and videos break up the monotony of the text and also encourage engagement. Galleries are a great way to get people to spend more time on your site and videos are a great way for users to interact with your website. Be careful though, because too much of a good thing is a bad thing and that rings true for images and videos. You don’t want a website that is image heavy. When we see websites that are image heavy, we notice that the text gets lost and people have a hard time finding the information they need. The key to variety is balance. You should have text on every single page. You should have images on every single page. Balance out the number of images with how much text there is. Is there only one paragraph? Maybe one image is enough. But do you talk about three different things in that one paragraph? Consider having three images to illustrate each different thing mentioned. In today’s world, websites are essential to a company’s business. With all the time we spend online, if you don’t have a website, or have a website that is not user friendly your current and future business may suffer. People spend more time on websites they can easily navigate and read.
Contact Open Design today for a website evaluation and a plan for a new and improved website! Don’t keep missing out on potential business because your website sucks.
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