So you’ve decided that you need a website. But before you get started, it is vital to consider some fundamental questions. There are lots of and hows and whens that come in to play, but more important are the whats and the whys. Your website won’t do you any good if there is no clear direction or purpose behind your site. This is the essence of content strategy.

How many of us take to the web for a quick first look at a product or business before deciding on a purchase or investment? I know I do – so let’s make sure you put your best foot forward to make the right kind of impact with your site.

Know your goals

Whether your goal is just to gain exposure, or to grow your sales by 25% over last year, having a clear purpose for your site is the best way to achieve success. This information forms the basis of where a design comes from – it creates focus, gives direction, and helps to prevent the clutter and waste that can be the downfall of your site.

Everything that goes on your site should exist only to serve your established goals and purpose. Be strategic – if you know the message you want every visitor to hear, you will be able to stick to it with every piece of content that you create.

Good content strategy can help to give every stakeholder a voice while keeping things on message.

Consider your audience

What are the questions your customers are asking, and what is the information they are seeking? Is the information I want to share the same as the information my customers need? What seems important to me may actually be of little consequence to my customers. Doing research before building (or designing) anything is absolutely necessary, and the results should determine what actually should be presented.

This is particularly the case in larger organizations, where the number of stakeholders in the site can be quite high. The temptation to give everyone or everything the spotlight is strong, but it can also be dangerous. The danger here lies in detracting from the overall message of the site, and bloating it with poor or irrelevant content. Good content strategy, particularly in this context, can help to give every stakeholder a voice while keeping things on message.

Make it easy

There is much to be said about keeping things simple, and your website is no exception. The whole point of your website is to accomplishing something, and the easier it is for your visitors to do it, the more likely they will be to follow through. Whether your objective is downloading your product or subscribing to your newsletter, the visitor must be compelled. Don’t complicate it – people are smart, and won’t waste their time if it’s too complicated. Hunting for information can also be very frustrating, and visitors who can’t find what are looking for will give up before long.

Crafting your message is an integral part to creating your site, so don’t be in a rush to throw something together. Investing time in solid content strategy can make the difference between your site being average and being highly successful. This will enable you to build a connection with your audience through strong, quality content, which is the best way to realize your goals. Take the time to do it right – you won’t regret it.