Do you remember when news was only in print and on the TV? Then came the internet. CNN.com would have all the latest news on demand, a simple click or two away. Things are changing faster than ever. This week I have been really thinking about blogs and RSS feed readers. For a few years I was really big into google reader, and I subscribed to 200 or so RSS feeds. Designers, Firms, Gallery sites, Businesses, Authors, etc. Anything I found useful or insightful consistently, I would subscribe.
In the last year or so, my RSS readership loyalty has dropped like a rock. I went from checking in to google reader a few times a day, to a few times a week, to now maybe 2 – 3 times per month, usually out of some odd self obligation. What’s interesting, is that the content hasn’t become less interesting, I’m just overwhelmed with information. The mediums have changed. Twitter and facebook feeds now dominate the landscape. I don’t think I’m alone either.
So what does this have to do with design, the web and small businesses or non profits? Everything. So as I was analyzing this over the week, I was thinking about the content. The content is still there, just the method changed. First I used to visit sites for updates, then RSS, now its twitter and facebook. Here is there interesting fact, with each change, the content headline, the call to action gets less visually stimulating.
Back when you manually checked a site for news, you had photos, graphics, buttons, etc. Then in RSS you still had some of that, but only what was IN the post. No pretty site frame, logo or nav bar. Now, you hve the headline and maybe a small intro in 140 characters or less. That’s a big change to entice your dedicated traffic to actually reading your content.
So what about my site? Well I am still a firm believer in a well designed, well planned and well constructed site that meets your needs and goals. But more importantly these days your content matters more than ever. The headline, the sub headline, the first few sentences all matter 10x more.
So as you have us make your awesome website, remember we can’t write killer content for you. We can work with a copywriter to help shape it, but ultimitly the source of info is you. Want people to read your stuff? Well, think about the headline, in 140 characters or less, and what the call to action is to get the user to read on. Your users attention span is smaller than ever.
It’s really easy to lose sight of WHO your website is for. We all know it is for our customers. In fact, I would argue it is for the people who aren’t our customers yet but who we really want to be our customers. TRUTH is that we are all guilty, us included, of designing our sites (and other marketing materials) and writing our content the way we know how to. Worse yet we are all are guilty of designing and writing for our personal tastes and styles not for what would be most effective in reaching new costumers.
We all need to stop doing that and we need to start zeroing in on our target audiences.
I read this article about a business owner who has over 2 million monthly subscription customers. He spends a majority of his time writing, editing, re-writing and fine-tuning their website and marketing content. The E-myth (great classic book about small business) teaches us that we need work on our businesses not just in our businesses.
So here are some simple challenges to all of us:
- Study your front page / landing page – Is it geared for new customers?
- Look at your language – Is it clear? Is it proper? Does it have your customer in mind? Are you too wordy?
- Does your website navigate easily for the most important information?
- Do you have a clear call to action?
- Have you any idea how much traffic your site is getting and other important statistics? (Link it up with Google analytics)
- Spend 1-5 hours EVERY WEEK fine-tuning your messaging on your site – Learn how to make it the powerful tool that it can be for placing you first in your market category.
[Ryan also writes for RedBikeLeader.com - engaging & developing young leaders]
have you ever noticed how many web pages you visit NEVER change after they are released? OR have you been to a website that has a posted item or a blog where the date is still form last year? What were your thoughts? Did you you think the company had died? Did you think that no body cared? Did you wonder if the owners & employees had lost interest in what they were doing? By chance did you think that you weren’t likely to engage with them because the would undoubtedly show you the same inattention as they do their own website?
Prevent your site from being stale!
Often organizations fall into the trap of assigning NO LEADERSHIP to their Internet presence. Sometimes they rely on the IT dept. to also be marketing geniuses just because they figured out how to put something out there in ‘cyber-space’. Think about these items:
- who is responsible (the leader) for your web content?
- what regular pattern do you want to adhere to for new content?
- what are the top 3 goals for your site to accomplish?
- what measurement do you have in place that enables you to know for sure that your site is driving traffic to your organization?
- does your audience find your site useful? how do you know? how long are they staying? how many pages are they reading?
there are so many things that you can be doing to make your site fresh, easy to use, and a powerful too for your organization. Give your website some love and attention and it will give it back to you.