Having more website content is not always better, and strategizing your content to reach your goals is instrumental in growing your sales and audience. Aside from making content easier to read, content consolidation strategy also includes reducing the amount of menu items so that users aren’t too distracted while navigating through your website. In this article, we’re going to explore ways to reduce or revise the amount of content and pages on your website to improve the overall user experience.
There are many factors which should help define your website’s content. If you have an existing website content and analytics data, you can leverage that to help strategize your new content and user flows.
Unfortunately, every website, user, and industry is different, making it difficult to generalize content strategies – which means that to be successful, the approach will be specific to your website, and require some clever analytical skills.
Your website’s design and usability also play a critical role in user interaction, but in this article, we will be focusing on content and layout.
Setting your website goals
When discussing strategy for a website with a client, one of the first questions I ask is “What are the top 3 goals you would like to achieve from your website?”. Whether the goals are registering as a user, subscribing to a newsletter, contacting the client, or making a purchase, I ensure that at any page the user is on all goals are easily obtainable.
This usually results in implementation of calls to action which require as few steps for the user as possible, and sometimes combining goals through cross-selling or defaulting users to opt-in to services.
Getting in the mindset of your audience – building personas
Most websites will have different kinds of customers, especially if your company provides a variety of services. Therefore, building personas is for these different customer types is important, allowing you to address individual concerns or questions they may have about your services.
Often personas are created based on existing customers, and multiple ones should be created to have a variety of job responsibilities and industries – it’s especially beneficial if you cater to a specific niche.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to create a fictional persona which would be a client for a web design company.
Title: Office Manager
Company: XYZ Staffing Agency
- Maintains office services by organizing office operations and procedures; controlling correspondence; reviewing and approving supply requisitions; assigning and monitoring clerical functions.
- Maintains office efficiency by planning and implementing office systems, layouts, and equipment procurement.
- Completes operational requirements by scheduling and assigning employees and vendors; following up on work results.
- Keeps management informed by reviewing and analyzing special reports; summarizing information; identifying trends.
- Has had both good and bad past experiences with website design vendors, so is cautious when choosing a partner.
- Has some knowledge of administering websites using Wordpress.
- Is looking for an affordable solution, but does not want to sacrifice on quality of work.
- Would like to choose a company which offers other services for content writing and SEO.
In this scenario, Sharon would be responsible for selecting a vendor for a website redesign initiative – she would also facilitate communications between stakeholders and the web design firm to ensure goals are being met.
Personas would also be created for other types of businesses and individuals to encompass your target clientele.
Once the personas are defined, you can then analyze your content from their point of view to address any concerns or questions they may have while visiting your website.
For example, with the content on my web design services page, I address challenges faced when working with web design companies, list the different packages and services we offer, display some information on results we achieve, and show examples of work from our portfolio.
By taking the time to evaluate your content from a customer’s perspective, you can discover potential gaps in your content that could discourage customers from contacting you.
Using Analytics Data to define your content and menu items
As previously mentioned, every website user base will have different types of interactivity, and your analytics data is a treasure trove of information to harness which will allow you to make informed decisions about your content strategy. I will be referencing the Google Analytics interface, but other analytics products should have comparable features.
The first section to reference is your user’s behavior with site content, which will let us know which pages are the most popular – and which pages could be candidates for removing or consolidating into other pages.
There are two different ways I approach content strategy:
Progressive content changes through campaigns
The first method is progressive, which is campaign based and usually incorporates other SEO strategies such as blogging and backlinking to impact both user interaction and organic search results at the same time. If the most popular pages align with a client’s goals, then those are usually the lowest hanging fruit for producing results. Working in this way allows me to focus on several pages at a time, and after revisions are made I can track the results and make improvements based on newly gathered analytical data.
Immediate content changes through new implementation
The other method is a full implementation of new content, which is usually accompanied by a full website redesign. Unfortunately, with this method only about half the time I have analytical data available – either because there was no pre-existing website or because the original website never had analytics setup. If there’s no existing analytics, then I defer to data from similar websites that I have worked on in the past.
Determining which content and pages need revisions
Starting with the least popular pages, content can be migrated into another page by putting it into a tabbed content area or a section with some intro text and a call to action to reveal the full content in a modal box.
Another important statistic to follow is conveniently in the same page interface that shows the page views – the average time on page. A quick test to see if you have too much content is to time how long it takes to read through that specific page. Did you finish under the average page time? If not, you might want to consider making your content more concise.
It’s worth noting that while Google Analytics does track time spent on page, if a user closes their browser tab then that time is reduced to 0 – which will skew the actual numbers a little bit. However, if the user navigates to another page, that time is tracked properly.
Being able to read through the content in an allotted amount of time does not mean it is easy to read, which brings us to the next section..
Using layout and design to define your content – and vice versa
In an ideal world, content will define your design. In a realistic world, client input changes both content and design throughout the development process – so really, from my experience both sides have a say in the overall outcome.
Content sections are typically broken up into columns with images and icons to break up the text density. The issue with having too much or too little content is that it may not fit the area allotted in your content section.
When working on progressive changes during a content campaign, this isn’t much of an issue – there’s already a design and general layout in place, so making some adjustments and truncating or adding more text isn’t too difficult.
When implementing a new or redesigned website with new content, I find it works best to layout content areas using UX/wireframing tools – my preferred tool is Moqups. There are many similar tools available, but the most important functionality is collaboration.
By creating the wireframes and layout before designing the pages allows the content to dictate the design, ultimately saving time through the use of proper planning.
Breaking up content for readability
Large, dense paragraphs are difficult to read. How many times have you come across a large section of content and just skimmed through it? Probably quite a few.
Here’s a few methods I use to break up the monotony:
- Bolding, italicizing, and underlining to draw attention to specific word and phrases
- Bulleted lists, often with custom icons, when possible
- Use images or icons
- Break up content sections into columns
- Add re-usable section styles throughout the website
Proper planning and implementation of your website content should result in progress toward your end goal - better conversion rates.
So what's next? Well, if you want your audience to contact you, I recently wrote a blog about strategies for contact form implementation.