Has content become a secondary component of websites?
1 September 2013
Have you ever met someone for a very short period of time, yet still felt like you really know them? In this short meeting you already imagined their lifestyle and values, foresaw their behavior in different situations and have reason to believe you would enjoy their company in the future. In short, you acquired an inclusive understanding of the person you just met.
It is not uncommon for a small amount of information to provide us with a larger picture. A first impression occurs between 90 seconds and four minutes. In a first impression, people receive a small portion of what they see and it is in fact a precise and inclusive representation for them.
Psychological research has shown that when people evaluate their environment, they give initial information much more weight than information acquired later. This initial information affects the way in which they later process information regarding the issue. In other words, it is more probable that people will believe the initial things they learn are true. It sometimes takes many examples of positive behavior to 'erase' the affect of one example of negative behavior performed during the initial meeting. As the saying goes, you only get one chance at first impressions. This way the first impression creates a promise for us.
What does this have to do with content and it becoming secondary?
We all surf the web, all day every day. We search for content, acquire content and share content. Try to remember the last time you entered a website and were taken aback by its design: its unique structure, the impressive pictures, the colorful banners and the special brand colors. The site has undoubtedly left an impression. It is so pretty, you say to yourself, I will surely find the information I am searching for. Now, did it fulfill its promise? Did the sire provide you with the information you were searching for? Did you get an answer for the question you were asking? Was it easy? Was it quick?
More than once we've encountered websites that are amazingly designed yet contain hardly any content. It is important that the site be pretty, dressed in the most hip clothing and wearing matching accessories. Design is indeed an important, central part of a website. It assists in building am image for the business and plays an important part in its success. Yet a design and image are not enough. Without real content to back it up, the image formed isn't real. It will work for only a short while before shattering in the face of reality. In these cases, the stunning design and the image created do not pass the test of reality. We can all purchase a suit and surround ourselves with different status symbols yet if there's nothing real to back it up, these will all remain merely a façade. In case the surfer did not find the information he/she was searching for, or found it but was not satisfied, you will not get another chance. It will take a few seconds for the potential user to move on to a competing website.
Content is not of secondary importance, rather it is the main component and is here to stay. Remember that the site you are designing is merely the backdrop for the content you are presenting, and not the other way around. The content is the reason the surfers were attracted to the site in the first place; it is what will make them spend more time in the site, it is what will make them return and visit again. The purpose of design is to enhance the message: the clearer the information is, the more it is accurate and promotional, the more the user will know of your product and services and ultimately-the more you will sell.
So, how will you create quality internet content?
When on the internet, the surfer's patience is usually minimal (unlike other reading sources). If the content is uninteresting, the user will not read it. Be careful to use focused, clear and concise messages. Divide the content into passages that enable a quick scanning of the eye and will ease the reading. Nevertheless, remember that the content must answer the user's needs. Try assisting the user to reach the objective while reaching the bottom line quickly and easily.
Articulate your message. Your website and content speak of you as a business, and create an image for you. Content which is not articulated, e.g. with typos or incorrect punctuation, will show a lack of professionalism and directly affect the positive image you are attempting to create and conserve.
Articulate concise writing is not enough. The writing should be marketing oriented. Understand who your customers are and write to them from their perspective. What do they need? What are they looking for? What is your edge? Why should they choose you?
Bridge between the need and your answer through the text.
Searching for information in the internet is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Navigation trees and titles direct the surfer to the desired content. Use short titles that provide information regarding the content. And most importantly, be clear and refrain from slogans.
Don't do this alone. Choose a professional for writing content as you have done with the website's designer or its developer. A professional content writer will regard your content from the surfer's perspective and will write the texts so that they are marketing and sales oriented and will ultimately sell. It is important to point out that a professional content writer does not exempt you from this task. You are your products' parents and know well what is precise and what is lacking. Cooperation between you and the content writer is critical for success.
Don't regard your website's content as a secondary component. It is vitally important for the success of your website. Good content is content that makes surfers stay on your site for as long as possible and return for future visits. A website that contains quality (and well designed) content is a big advantage that can assist you in opening doors for success, projecting a dynamic image and increasing profit. A pretty site with no content to back it up not can possibly harm your business. Keep your promise to the users and give content its rightful place.