“Why waste a sentence saying nothing?” – Seth Godin
Content is a popular topic of discussion on our blog. We pride ourselves in taking a ‘content first’ approach to design and development, planning websites with a strategy that hones in on the user experience. Content is the driving force behind UX.
Your customers want well-constructed, high-quality content, and they want it delivered in a clear and concise manner. Think of your website like a vehicle. It needs to be designed well to give off a great impression, and it needs to perform well over the long haul in order to deliver its cargo – your content. Once your delivery system is in order you can develop a content strategy that produces high-value content and directly benefits your customers.
Content production should not be hasty. Reviewing and editing must be part of the process, and it needs to involve more than one person. The content creator – whether we’re talking text, infographics, or video – needs to have someone else review their work. Too many variables are at play and it’s easy to miss mistakes when you’ve been working for an extended period of time.
Most of my day is spent online. I read blog posts and articles, watch videos, and check the social media feeds from companies, groups, and organizations that I find interesting. Every day I notice missteps and mistakes that are easy to avoid. A typo here or there probably isn’t going to hurt your overall image, but if you’re making the same mistake all the time, you’re going to have trouble attracting new viewers, and you’ll lose some that you already have.
A few common problems I see include:
- Poor Grammar – Any content you produce should be thoroughly edited for grammar mistakes. Spell check does not make you bulletproof. Spelling, punctuation, and syntax all must be in order before any piece of content goes live, whether it’s a 100-word blog post or a 15 chapter eBook. Poor grammar is seen as sloppy, and it makes it appear as if your organization doesn’t take pride in what they produce.
- Distracting Typography and Color Schemes – When presenting digital content to readers, it must be easy to read. People who struggle with the font or stylization are likely to abandon what they’re reading and look somewhere else. The content you produce should be tested on various devices to ensure that it’s easy to take in, regardless of how your audience is viewing. Choose fonts that are readable, and avoid using too much color or colors that mask text.
- Content Focused on the Creator Instead of the Customer – Content creation isn’t about highlighting your company’s work or bragging about accomplishments. The vast majority of what you produce should be useful and valuable to your readers. Provide resources that offer an observable benefit. Creating and sharing content is about developing a loyal and long term customer base, not about grabbing a quick sale.
- Poorly Researched Content – You don’t get the respect afforded to experts overnight. Consistently producing content with technical and factual errors, even minor ones, will hurt your reputation. The content you create will not be seen as a reliable resource and will be ignored. Careful research means you vet your sources. Don’t accept the first piece of supporting data you find online as fact. Follow the source trail until you’ve got the original, and verify its authenticity. Check the facts, and then have someone else check again before you publish anything.
- It Doesn’t Start a Conversation – Think from the perspective of the viewer during the content creation process. If you’re putting out content, whether it’s text-based like an eBook or a video series on YouTube, it needs to engage the person who’s come to see it. That means it needs to be relevant and interesting as well as useful. Draw people in, get them talking about your ideas, your thoughts, and the information you’re sharing. It can help to consult with professionals (copywriters, videographers, etc.) to get a solid strategy in place.
- Failure to Promote – Not only do you need to share your content with your audience, but you need to share it via the right channels. If you’re pushing eBooks on LinkedIn but your target audience spends their time following Twitter feeds, they’ll miss out. You don’t need to share all content on every channel, though. Tailor your promotion strategy based on relevancy. You must get the word out and let people know when you’ve got a new piece of content ready to be read or watched.
Every aspect of the content you create should be refined and polished. Having a well-defined strategy for content creation and promotion leads to a refined process that can turn out high-quality content at an impressive pace.
You spend thousands of dollars building a vehicle that looks and functions flawlessly with the purpose of delivering your cargo. Why use it to deliver underwhelming content? Imagine a trucking company getting the biggest and best 18-wheeler on the road to deliver one sack of potatoes. What a waste.
Your content will define your success online. Create a focused, well-defined strategy and avoid costly mistakes.