The conversation around user experience design is a big one. A large portion of that conversation centers on design elements of user experience (wireframes, user experience audits, graphic considerations), but something often missing from the discussion is content. What about the stuff that people actually write? Both the design elements and the content are equally important to user experience design, but we’re going to zero-in on content, and how the strategy behind it can drive the user to a mutually-beneficial end goal.
While writing this blog, I came across Neha Singh’s article on UX Booth, “Complications with Content,” I had to laugh at the sample conversation she had between a Web Admin and a client, that discussed how simple text and copy tweaks often turn into overall content strategy discussions. I certainly understand how that can go. It gets overwhelming quickly. So where does one start when designing content strategy? And how can it benefit both the user and the company? Below are the first three steps to developing excellent content strategy as part of overall user interface development.
Know your Outcome/Understand your User’s Needs
There is a science and an art to balancing the two of these things. When our team creates a new page, we ask ourselves two questions:
1. What is the outcome our company is hoping to achieve?
- Give user information
- Drive them to a deeper page
- Have them fill-out an inquiry form
- Purchase item
2. What is the user hoping to achieve with this page?
- Learn more about product
- Speak to someone about more information
- Purchase a product/item
- Learn more about your experience with a product/service
- Drill down to more information or more specific topics
The answers to these two questions can often serve as the basis for your overall content needs. If you include content that satisfies both your company and your users’ needs, you are on your way to making targeted, consistent relevant content. The way that this drives user experience is that it captures that need that someone is seeking (i.e. Looking for .NET software development? Ooh that’s me!), but doesn’t lose sight of your own objectives.
Not only do templates save time, they will make sure that you have a consistent content branding strategy across your website. This doesn’t mean that you have to have the exact same layout for each page on your site, but provide a template by sections. Once you answer the two questions above, you’ll know better the visual outlay of your content. Consistent content layout helps user experience in a variety of ways:
- Ensures consistent branding strategy (already mentioned J)
- Gives credibility across the site, users know what to expect/do (layout outliers tend to look hasty and can confuse the user)
Some text items to consider:
- White space rules (to balance with in-page graphics, reading ease)
- Bullet points to break up text (or make information succinct)
- Tables (Problem/Solution, Products, Qualifications)
- Other Media (Video, Infographics, etc.)
Believe it or not, enhancing your content with optimized content can be mutually beneficial, and may be one of the most important user experience design elements for content. It is very beneficial for you because adding keywords can enhance your page rankings, increasing the likelihood of people reaching you. Additionally, added in-line links and calls-to-action truly drive people where you want them on your site. It benefits your user by giving users’ specific links and directives, tapping into their need and getting them where they’d like to be.
Keys to getting started:
- Target a specific set of keywords in your content, be creative about how you use them
- Make sure the set of keywords will be relevant to the pages you are creating
- Make sure to give clear calls-to-action (Speak to someone in Business Development)