Part 2/5 of A Simple Guide to Your First Website
What is Content?
Content refers to the information and media that your visitors come to your website to see. This could be articles or reference material you have published, music, photography, video, spoken work audio such as a podcast, a live audio or video stream or even online games.
Recent improvements in the technologies that make up the web have made all these different forms of media possible and relatively easy to publish on your website. While this opens up many exciting possibilities it is still important to do some planning before you start uploading.
How to Decide What Content to Publish
If you are thinking of setting up a website you most likely already have a main topic in mind. The most successful websites are usually focused around providing information about a single topic or theme. The more relevant your content is to the main topic the more useful it will be to your visitors.
A good place to start is with the purpose of your website. Are you trying to educate your audience about something with your website? If so each post or piece of content should increase your audiences knowledge of your topic. Trying to sell a product? The information you post should explain how your product will help your target audience.
What Your Audience Wants
Knowing your target audience is also a big consideration when deciding what type of content to post. Are you trying to reach academics and experts that need detailed reports? Perhaps you are reaching out to people with busy lifestyles who would prefer audio content they can listen to in their headphones while travelling or working.
If you can put yourself in your visitors shoes you have a better chance of creating content that they will enjoy, find useful and share.
Organize Your Content
Organizing your website into a number of sub-topics will help your visitors find the information they are looking for more easily as the size of the website grows.
Deciding on the organisation and types of content you will provide on your website is something you should do before you start talking to a designer or start building yourself. The content will determine the structure of the website.
For example a simple website about a particular musician could be organised into the following sub-topics:
- Songs / Releases
The website can then be divided up into a number of sections for each sub-topic, which will form the basis of the website’s structure.
Once you have your sub-topics you will then find it helpful to decide what format you would like to prevent your information in. For our musician this could be:
- Blog Posts announcing upcoming gigs or reporting on previous ones
- Image galleries of events
- Streaming or downloadable audio recordings of songs or concerts
- Streaming or downloadable video of songs or concert footage
- Audio or video interviews
- A tutorial on how to play a particular songs
- A shop for buying merchandise
Knowing the types of media and format of the content will help you or your designer come up with a structure and layout for your web pages.
Do I Really Need To Plan My Content?
If your website is going to be anything more than a personal journal then you should spend some time planning your content. It takes time to write articles, record audio and make videos so why not make sure it’s time well spent. If you want you website to be a useful resource that hits the spot for your target audience you should make sure everything you post is relevant to your core topic.
Planning your content in advance will help you to set up a website that is:
- Useful to your visitors by providing material relevant to the website’s main topic
- Well structured and easy for your visitors to navigate and find what they want
- Constructed in a way that allows you to publish information and media in the most appropriate formats for your visitors
An added bonus is that the more relevant and well organised content your website is, the higher is will appear in search engine results when people search for your topic in Google and Bing.
Put Your Content Plan Into Action
Once you have a plan for the content you are going to publish you will find yourself coming with ideas for new content all the time. At this point its time to spring into action and get creating. It’s never to soon to start.
Don’t wait until you have the perfect design, the perfect name or even a website at all. If you are working with a web designer or developer then the more content you can provide them with have in advance the easier it will be for them to create a website that works for you.
When you launch your website the more relevant content you have the better it will look to your first visitors. With a good plane you can start creating now with the confidence that everything you produce will help you and your target audience achieve their goals.