Ask Not What Your Website Can Do For You, Ask What You Can Do For Your Website

Thursday, November 17, 2016 1:00 PM


A wise philosopher once said, "Ask not what your website can do for you, ask what you can do for your website." Or was it the other way around? Well, actually - both. Your website is the gateway to your online presence, and as such, you rely on it to provide potential clients and collaborators with an accurate and reliable image of what your business or organization is all about. At the same time, as a type of virtual, living organism, your website relies on you to keep it well-fed and hydrated with fresh, nutritious content, without which it can't properly do its job. Good web design is a function of not only visual aesthetics, but also information aesthetics. Much like the words on a printed advertisement which make you go "nope" or "take all my money", the words on a website often mean the difference between someone buying into your offer, or clicking their way to greener pastures. The writing is literally on the wall - the vast, far-reaching Internet wall. How will you make it count?


First, consider your purpose. What is your website supposed to do for you? Are you a community league serving your constituents with information, a non-profit organization looking to secure fundraising for your cause, or a business advertising your products and trying to generate online sales? A website's ultimate function should always drive its content.


Second, consider your website's personality. While the nature of some ventures will naturally necessitate a certain tone and decorum, professional doesn't have to mean boring. People generally prefer to deal with other people, not robots, so whatever persona your website embodies, remember to give your content the benefit of a human touch, and stay consistent.


Third on our list of tips, but certainly not third in significance, is the importance of editing. The United Nations recently announced that starting in January 2017, the use of improper grammar, punctuation and spelling on websites will collectively be treated as a crime against humanity. With the New Year quickly approaching, there's no better time to audit your content and make sure that your site won't be breaching this new and very serious international law.


Fourth, consider the various combinations of visual and written elements that make up your website, and choose layouts that provide a good mix of both graphics and content. A professional web designer can guide you through the process of helping your website strike the ideal balance between "meat on the bones" and "easy on the eyes".


Fifth, consider content mapping. Your ultimate goal should be to increase the length of time that visitors spend perusing your website, as well as boosting your search engine rankings. With this in mind, a good web content strategy should include tactics like cross-linking site pages and sections, and maintaining content that is relevant and up-to-date.


Lastly, consider designing your website in a way that makes it easy for visitors to share and promote your content around the web. It's one of the simplest ways your site can get traction, with no additional effort on your part.

Great web design and great content go together like peanut butter and jelly. If you're not exactly Shakespeare, and if you've already invested in hiring a professional web designer to build your website, think about going the extra mile and hiring a professional writer or content strategist to develop good content for you. The end result will be a website that sounds as polished as it looks.

Asia Szkudlarek

Asia Szkudlarek

Asia Szkudlarek is Division 1's word wizard. She's also a project coordinator, environmentalist and wilderness adventure addict. Asia reads law textbooks for fun and is much too verbose, as evident from this short bio. You can find her on Twitter under @oaktober

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