Some readers will be aware that back in December we launched a new version of the Red Pony website. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a few of the lessons we learned from this exercise – from the perspective of both client and content provider.
1. Find a developer you know you can work with.
Finding the right company to trust with developing your website is not easy. They should understand your goals and overall vision for what you want to achieve, but you also need someone who isn’t afraid to suggest different approaches when it’s appropriate. Luckily, I’ve worked with Nathan from Good Digital in a previous role, so I knew the level of rigour and attention to detail he would apply to our project. Nathan invested time at the beginning to learn about Red Pony’s business, which helped not just in designing the look and feel of the site, but also in determining how the information should be structured and how search engine optimisation (SEO) principles would apply.
2. Get the platform right.
Our previous website was built using Adobe Contribute, a WYSIWYG editing tool. While this technology served us well initially, our content strategy for the website has changed over the years, with our newsletter articles providing most of the new content for the site and driving most of the traffic. On the advice of our web developer, we opted for the WordPress platform, which enabled us to convert the entire Red Pony Express archive into individual blog posts that are fully searchable and taggable.
3. Think about your content from the audience’s perspective.
One of the hardest things about writing copy for your own website is putting yourself in the shoes of your audience. You will know the details of your products or services intimately, but when writing about them you need to write for someone who does not. You also need to remember that not everyone visiting your website will be at the same stage of the buying decision process. One visitor might be ready to engage a technical writer and is evaluating potential suppliers, but someone else might just want to know how Microsoft Word templates work. As a general rule, the information should guide visitors from the general to the specific: higher level pages should provide authoritative information on a topic and lead to sub-pages with specific information on related products or services that encourage a response (e.g. make a purchase, complete an enquiry form).
4. Providing clear, concise information has always been, and still is, the key to a successful website.
As this recent post on the latest update to Google shows, search engines are constantly tweaking their algorithms to reward quality content over ‘fluff’ and punish sites that use keyword stuffing to artificially boost their search results. And they are getting better at it. The best way to maintain a high ranking on Google while providing your audience with the information they are looking for is to produce regular, quality content written with your intended readership in mind. In addition to our blog posts, we are continually reviewing the content of our web pages to make sure they provide an accurate reflection of our organisation and the services we offer. You probably should too.
See also:Cubosh via photopin cc