Spicing Up Website Content
So why the prosaic term? I have a two-part theory: First, many graphic design firms create striking website designs, but consider content something that is “filled in” later. Second, content is work. The truth is, content takes longer to create (or should take longer) than the graphic design and functionality development, and is the most often under-anticipated task by those assigned to write it, whether that be done in-house, or by a third party. The result of not placing enough importance on it is a site that contains “me too” content with many headings, bullets and generalized statements that use words like innovative, sole provider and quality.
But doesn’t everyone say that? Does anyone ever state that they are against quality or innovation? Of course not. But these general, fluffy statements don’t set you apart from the competition, either.
That’s the problem, and that’s why we need a new term for the term content. It simply doesn’t portray the sheer importance it wields.
Visitors to your website want to know what you do and what you offer (the basics), but they also want to know who they’d be dealing with. Can they trust you? Personality and corporate culture-wise, are you a good fit for them?
Anyone can list a series of bullet points. The websites that stand out and stand above are those that provide detail while telling a unique story and providing a cohesive, overall theme that integrates with a website’s primary objective (whether that be to sell or inform).
I’m not saying that the writing should be folksy, quirky or funny (though it could be, if that’s your target market and/or the image you aim to convey). But it should reflect your organization and your goals. And if your organization is quirky? Then work that in! Ultimately, when a visitor comes to the website, they should leave saying, “I feel like I know these people.”
And all of this doesn’t involve just writing. Video and audio are rolled into content as well, whether that is a scripted sales presentation, an information-based podcast or a personalized message from key staff. Each has its own opportunity to present a unique voice.
So back to the term content, which sounds like something an engineer would deal with. Heres are a few replacement terms we came up with:
– Web correspondence
– Web articulation
– Web directive
Am I thrilled with those? Not completely, but I do feel they better portray their significance in getting results. If you have suggestions for others, please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d love to hear them!Perhaps if we create something catchy and illustrative, this new term will catch on and the result will be an emergence of placing emphasis where it is deserved. A cool book cover might get you to pick it up in a bookstore, but it’s the quality of the written words within that will turn you from a casual shopper to a lifelong, dedicated fan of the author. Why should a website be any different?
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John Forsberg is CEO of i2 Integration, dedicated to creating Internet, intranet and extranet Web applications, and interactive multimedia productions.