The most important part of your website

The most important part of your website has little to do with your developer. If I was to guess, without the aid of proper testing, where the vast majority of time on a web project should be spent, I would say, without hesitation: content. This is why:

What is a successful website?

The success of a website must be defined as one that achieves or exceeds its purpose. If that purpose is to draw traffic, then a successful site would surely be one that drew a lot of traffic. Let’s not get wound up in quantifying “a lot”. Suffice to say, a lot of traffic is that amount that serves the goal of getting the required (or above the required) amount of eyes on your company/product/service - lets just call it information - to be positively comparable with any other method of achieving that; when measured against some sort of cost-benefit analysis. TV advertising for example, would be another method of getting eyes on your information.

Not forgetting that cost-benefit thinking: A site that converts a high percentage of that traffic to leads, would surely be one that could be considered successful at conversion. One that leaves users feeling satisfied with the information they gathered would be successful at offering information. Wikipedia is probably pretty good at this.

My experience

I have played a part in a great many sites, and have seen a variety of successes. I have seen both very big and relatively small budgets achieve great results, and I have seen both disappoint.

Without exception, the sites that have been successful, on both large and small budgets, have been the ones owned by people and companies willing to put a lot of effort into their content. For the most part more effort, measured in time, than I put into actually designing and coding their sites.

There is no formula, or even thumb-suck estimate on what the ratio of development time to content creation time should be, it depends entirely on what your content is and how complex your site is. But no matter how fancy your site, if your content is poor, it will not perform well.

So, what is good content?

There are hundreds of blogs out there that talk about what constitutes good content. And a lot of them are written by people way cleverer and more qualified than me on this subject. You can Google “how to write great website content”, and bathe in thousands of great articles on the subject. Here is just one, from a source that is usually pretty reliable:

That all said, I’m going to tell you what I think anyway:

7 tips to writing great content

  1. Forget the search engines.
    Unless you are an SEO superstar who has intimate knowledge of how Googles algorithms work (and probably not even then), write as if to a small group of people you know, respect and would like as customers. Don’t stuff sentences full of keywords because you read somewhere that you need to think about keyword densities. Human’s have to read and, hopefully respond to this, so write to them.
  2. Research your content well.
    Don’t publish before you are confident its good. Don’t publish anything that you will later wish you could retract. Remember that your content will probably be read pretty soon after you write it, and probably by those very people you wish were your customers, or at least wish would share your content. They will not become a customer or share your content if they feel or discover it is poor. People want to be helpful to each other generally, because doing so paints them as useful, so give them something share-worthy.
  3. Sell small and give big.
    Do not focus all your attention on selling something to the reader. If you hope to keep the person interested long enough for them to naturally start to see you as a person or company that knows what they are talking about, and therefore as worth engaging with, then just focus on giving them the facts. If you genuinely are great at your job, it will float to the surface anyway, much quicker than if you stuff specials down their throats.
  4. Keep it short, keep them engaged.
    If you have a lot to say, make sure the reader is still interested all the way to the bottom. If they really want to know more, they will contact you, and isn’t that the ultimate goal anyway?
  5. Play fair.
    Don’t take swings at the competition unless there is a very good reason to do so., and in my opinion the only good reason to do so is for the reader’s sake, not yours. If you are punching only to put money in your pocket, you’ve got it wrong.
  6. Keep it clean.
    Watch your language, spelling and grammar. People who do not care about these things do not generally actively shun them, but people who do care, will disregard what you have to say if your writing is poor. By the same token, don’t use pompous, thesaurus-assisted writing. Write as if talking to those respected prospects mentioned in tip one.
  7. Have it checked.
    Get someone who you know is a good communicator to check your work.

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