Substance Web Design: Content





It might be too obvious to say that content is an essential part of a great web site. We all know that there has to be substance as well as style.

In determining what content to provide, take a look at other business sites. You will quickly find that many of them provide:

1. Information on the company and the web site

Typically titled "About Us", this section helps visitors quickly determine the nature of your business. You may want to provide some brief background on the firm, what visitors can find on the site, and how best to use the site.

If you collect user information (ie. e-mail addresses or demographic information, consider adding a Privacy Statement to disclose your data gathering and dissemination practices.

Imagine that you are unfamiliar with your company. What questions would you ask? Answer them in this section.

The aim here is to establish company credibility. You want your visitors to be confident that the product/service they purchase will be worth the price.

2. Products/services offered by the company

Some firms sell products/services directly over the Internet, either exclusively or in addition to running a "real" establishment (where one can shop in person). If you decide to do this, you will have to provide a secure (that is, encrypted) section of the site for customers to provide credit card information. Real-time credit card processing can be obtained through a number of companies on the Internet or through Site Build It!. Since many people are still uncomfortable with providing credit card information over the computer, you will want to allow alternative payment options such as sending a cheque or money order through regular mail.

Not all companies decide to sell directly on-line, and instead simply provide details on products/services, and provide location or contact information. The option that you choose will depend on the nature of your company and your Internet Strategy. Will your product or service fill a niche with its Internet presence? From a practical perspective, can your product/service be delivered to a customer who may not be geographically close to you?

If your site is a straight sales pitch, you will have an extremely difficult time retaining visitors. You must give them an incentive to return. To this end, many commercial web sites offer "extras" like:

3. Compelling Targeted Content

It can be a challenge coming up with compelling content that remains relevant to your product or service.  High traffic volumes do not necessarily translate into higher sales.  To be successful on-line, your primary web site traffic must be made up of customers ready to buy. It is your content that will achieve this goal.

Look at the type of content that already exists on-line that is related your industry or market.  Consider how you could enhance or improve it.  Ask yourself: What can they see on your site that cannot be found elsewhere? By offering free, valuable information or a helpful tool, you stand a far better chance of drawing visitors back for more.

To help you attract motivated targeted traffic the Site Build It! system includes highly sophisticated tools to brainstorm and identify attractive profitable content that is unique to your business.

Some options for targeted content include:

  • Publications, statistics, news releases & other information
  • A free tool or service
  • Interactive forums
  • Lists of others resources (ie. links)

Many on-line purchases are not impulse buys. People take time to compare and consider the product/service you offer. By attracting them back to your site with a free "extra", they will again consider the product/service you provide.

Also, consider offering an...

7. E-mail newsletter

You can use it to notify users of changes and additions to your web site, as well as providing some of the content listed above.

Newsletters help you to stay in contact with your target market.  They build trust and establish credibility.

There are numerous services for e-mail newsletters/mailing lists, but none provide the development and distribution capabilities of Site Build It!  It makes creating a quality newsletter a snap!

The above content suggestions are included in many commercial sites, but that doesn't mean that you must include all of them in yours. Keep your web site strategy in mind as you develop the content, and adapt the basic structure outlined above to suit your company's needs.

Keep in mind that how you write is just as important as what you write. Check your spelling, and proofread, proofread, proofread!

Finally, once you've developed the content for your site, remember that maintenance is another key to web site success.


Our Library of Links has a list of wonderful resources to help you with your Web Content.


UPDATED: 05/27/03
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