A step by step guide to planning and creating content with a focus on user experience.
Click on any of the titles in the list below to jump straight to that section of the article.
- Introduction to improving UX through great content
- Planning your content
- Creating your content
- Looking forward
Introduction to Improving UX through great content
Content is arguably the most important, and most difficult, aspect of delivering any website. It’s often a tedious, challenging job that no-one has time for, and is often de-prioritised in favour of tasks perceived as more exciting or critical.
While a good design, with clean and efficient code is essential to make your site run smoothly, neither of those elements will attract users as much as great content. What attracts users to any site, every site, is the quality of the information available, and how easy it is to access.
Users want to find their answers quickly, so they can move on and take action, they want a good user experience. Every website exists to solve a user’s problem, and the best ones provide clear answers for the users by demonstrating EAT, Expertise, Authority and Trust. In this article, we provide a step by step guide to planning and creating content with a focus on user experience.
Planning your content
Great content isn’t just words on a page, it’s what guides the journey your user will go through to find their answers and take action.
Planning your content and creating a strategy will save you time, and help you improve your understanding of the user’s journey, improve their experience and deliver more impact. You should consider these points:
- Identify your audience – Are they a business, or an individual? How old are they? What is their online behaviour? Different audiences react to different content, a 20 year old student is going to use different terminology and language to that of a 35 year old marketing manager.
Create personas for your different user types, to give you a focus when creating your content. You can then start planning how best to answer the problems your uses are trying to solve.
- Identify the question you need to answer – Now your audience is established, you can start looking at what question they’re asking. Instead of thinking about what message you need to send, think about the question your user is trying to answer, and structure your content around that. Are they looking to make a purchase? Are they looking for information? Recommendations?
When you structure your content around what your user wants, rather than what your business wants to say, you improve their experience by showing you understand their needs, providing more relevant information, building trust and demonstrating expertise.
- Language, tone & personality – The language you use when creating your content should match that of your target audience, but still be in keeping with your brand voice. Using words and writing in the style that resonates with your audience will help build trust and is another great way to establish EAT.
Consider the tone of voice you’re going to use too, and the emotional response you want to invoke in your audience. If you’re offering services to businesses, a professional tone with formal writing and longer sentences is likely appropriate, however if you’re targeting parents of young children, you might consider using a friendlier tone with shorter words and sentences.
- Keywords & Phrases – Before you start creating your content, take some time to research the keywords and phrases your audience are likely to use . These can be very audience specific so it’s worth spending time getting into the mind of your user and identifying what words they use. Keywords differ enormously throughout generations, and it can be really surprising. A 40 year old looking for pub quiz questions might ask ‘Who is the best footballer?’, whereas a popular phrase used by 12-16 year olds would be ‘Who is the GOAT of football’ (GOAT meaning greatest of all time).
Using Keywords that resonate with your audience will help you rank better on search engines for the right user, and also builds trust with your audience by demonstrating your experience & authority on the matter. There are plenty of free keyword research tools out there that can help, but Google’s ‘suggested search’ is a great place to start.
Creating your content
Now you have a plan for your content, you can start creating it. Whilst you’re in this process, keep in mind that you want to make it easy for your user to find the information they need.
- Keep it accessible – The way you format copy can have a huge impact on accessibility, as can the colours, contrast, typography and general page structure you use. Break up your content with clear headings and use anchor tags for improved mobile navigation. Anchor tags allow users to jump to sections of content they are interested in without having to scroll.
As a general rule, when the average sentence length is 14 words, readers understand more than 90% of what they are reading. The more casual your copy is, the shorter your average sentence should be, but more complex content may require longer sentences. Where possible, use simpler language (unless your audience requires otherwise, a research piece aimed at Biology PHD’s is going to use more complex language by default).
- Conversion rate optimisation – So far we’ve focused on how to provide what the user needs, now we can focus on the action we want them to take. Whether you want them to make a purchase, fill in a form, or click a button, it’s important to make the process easy. Providing calls to action (CTA’s) within your content makes it easy for your user to continue their journey with you. This could be a link within the text, a well placed form, or a button taking them to another page. Your calls to action should be obvious, and relevant to the content on display and the action you want the user to take.
- Consider the medium – Is copy the best way to convey your message? There are a thousand different ways to show information, and whilst text might seem like the most obvious, combining it with other mediums will improve user experience.
If you have to convey data, consider using a chart or graph. If you’re discussing locations, add a map for visual reference. Infographics are a great way to break down chunks of information and make them more memorable. The more enjoyable, and easier to access, the information is, the more likely it is that the user will follow through on the action you want them to take.
- Link to relevant information – Where appropriate, add internal and external links to your content. Linking to other relevant pages is a great way to keep users engaged, build trust and serve them additional, important information. It will also help with SEO (Search engine optimisation). For more tips on how to optimise your website and content for Search Engines, take a look at our article – Small business SEO, simple tactics for 2021.
- Combining it all – You’ve planned it out, decided how you want to display it and know what action you want the user to take, all that’s left to do is combine it all. Decide on an attention grabbing title, it’s the first thing your user will see, as highlighted by David Ogley’s 80 cents rule. “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar”.
Keep your information clear and succinct, and aim to include a minimum of 300 words of relatable, keyword rich, accessible copy. Keep it visually stimulating with great formatting, including any images or other appropriate mediums and use CTA’s to encourage users to easily take action.
Every time you produce a piece of content, you should use the opportunity to evaluate how your users engage with it to make improvements next time.
Installing heat-mapping software such as HotJar will highlight any areas where your users may be losing interest or encountering problems. Google Analytics should be installed, the most recent version (4) now includes scroll tracking as standard and will track how users engage with your content, as well as tracking traffic and goal conversions from your piece.
You can also experiment with A/B testing. A/B testing consists of creating two pieces of content that offer the same information, displayed in different ways. This can be a great way to analyse how your users prefer to view data and interact with your CTA’s.
Granite 5 are passionate about inbound marketing, if you need help have a look at our digital marketing services.