The Difficulties of Content Generation
One of the hardest task, I imagine for any design company is getting copy from their clients. The project starts out of the gate at a full sprint as logos, color schemes and button styles all get created revised and approved then the site has it's empty shell and it is time to fill in the blanks with relevant blocks of copy that are tailored for both the human visitor and for the search engine spider. Suddenly the project will grind to a screeching halt.
One of the methods that we've found useful for helping our customers understand what needs to be written without presenting it as an overwhelming mountain of work for them is that we will break it up into bite sized chunks’ that we sometimes even ask for one at a time. This keeps some momentum and keeps from the customer feeling like we've left them adrift.
Here are some samples of the outlines we give for the more common pages that we find difficulty generating content for:
This page should give an overview of who you are, what you do, why you do it and how you do it better. Generally the best way to get your message across on the home page is with short sentences and bullets that support the graphics on the page that really tell the story of what you do. Visitors have a very short attention span especially on the first page of a site and so these quick ideas should be the only text on the home page outside of the call to action telling them to "Buy today" or "Call Us Now!"
This page should really be more of a quick list than anything especially if you offer a large variety of services. People click this page because they want to be sure that you do X, Y, or Z and so you should confirm that for them without adding a lot of excess info. A brief sentence or two about each service is good enough and then if you want to describe each one we should add detail pages further inside the website (these detail pages can then be added later if time is a factor).
This page should have 3-4 paragraphs that talk about your business's unique identity. Maybe start with a paragraph talking about your company history, a little info about the staff, work environment or general information about what you do. Then move on to talking about what makes your business different than the next guy, things like the quality of your work, quickness of response, lowest prices, philosophy, or anything else that your competition can't match - you should point out to the visitor. Then wrap it all up by simply asking your customer to call or fill out the form or whatever it is you want them to do at the end of the day to make the next step in building a relationship with your company.
This page usually can be copied and then modified from pseudo-standards out there which cover the basics of how you handle the information that customers submit to your site. In some cases it can get rather involved and legal assistance may be required, but for most businesses a basic overview of the fact that you aren't going to sell them up the river is sufficient.
Website content flow will, of course, vary for each company but the above guidelines do apply for a majority of the sites out there and when you see websites that don't write their copy in this fashion it shows by a muddled message that leaves no brand impact for the visitor leaving the site. Your website is not doing it's job if your visitors walk away not knowing what your message is.
More to come on this one in future posts...