This post is Part II of Website Data Architecture.
In Part I, we covered points 1 and 2 of these six steps of mapping and creating text for your website:
- Brainstorming/dreaming about your site
- Creating a site map and think about site navigation
- Defining your Calls to Action
- Home Page Content
- Writing your content Page by Page
- Structuring your blog content using categories and tags
So let’s continue with point 3.
3. Defining your Calls to Action
Guide your visitors – take them where you want them to go
A website isn’t structured like IKEA. You can’t completely control where a site visitor enters your site or the path they will take through it. But you can think about what action you want visitors to take and draw their attention to that action.
It’s known as the Call to Action. What action do you want visitors to take. Do you want people to Call? Buy? Register? Subscribe? Donate? A call to action provides direction to your site visitors. A call to action can be different for individual pages.
Knowing what you want to achieve will help you get there
This might be a good time return to your sticky notes. On each, add the call to action or the main focus for that page. It’s important to be focused in your calls to action. Too many choices can overwhelm your website visitor and reduce the chance that they will choose any of the options.
4. Home page content: Make a good first impression
When someone comes to your website you have very little time to try to reach them with your message before they click away and never come back again. You may have 30 seconds, often that window of opportunity can be even shorter than that.
What’s your elevator pitch? The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver a summary of who you are and what you do in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. When you have a succinct elevator pitch; that is your main message and, quite possibly, your home page content!
Keep your main message above the fold. Don’t let pictures or videos push it out of sight down the page.
Is your WordPress site a blog or a website with a blog? Decide
- Do you want your blog posts to display on your home page? A blog page displays your most recent posts either as excerpts or full posts. OR
- Do you want a static page to display as your home page?
A good rule of thumb is:
If your WordPress site will function as a website with a blog, use a static page as your home page. If you think that your WordPress site will function mostly as a platform for you to write, your blog should be your home page.
5. Writing your content Page by Page
Now go through your site map (or your sticky notes) page by page. Write bulleted notes of the important information you think that your website audience needs to know about your services.
- Write about the problems you solve and how you solve them
- What are the benefits of what you do? How are you different from your competition?
- On your blog excerpt page, write a welcome and an introductory paragraph about why you decided to get a blog going… what was your inspiration?
- Think about how you want people to contact you (Phone? Email? Drop by your store?) and invite them to do it. On your contact page, make sure to include the details of how people can contact you: your phone number, email address, street address, business hours, a contact form, and an embedded Google map.
- Do you want to highlight your services? Write “intro to services” and stick that on a piece of white paper (pretend that is your blank web page).
- What features or sidebar widgets do you want for each page?
6. Structuring your blog content
Organizing your blog with categories (and tags)
Categories help you to organize your content on your blog and help your readers find information they are interested in. Categories are an organizing tool for your blog.
Think of categories as very broad topic items. For example, if you are creating a blog about History, make categories for the types of history that you want to blog about (WWII, Ancient History, Roman History). Or if you plan to write a leadership blog, think of the categories that you can organize your content into (Team Building, Communications, Leadership Styles, etc).
Remember that you are using categories to organize your content in a way that makes sense to you and your readers. Think carefully about all the topics you will write about and make a list. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the core topic of content that I could blog endlessly about? This will be your default category
- What are 2-3 related topics that I could also write extensively about?
Categories are a way to link together related content. It doesn’t make sense to create a category that will only ever contain one or two posts. Aim to have at least 10-20 posts per category. In all likelihood, most of your blog posts can fall within 3 to 8 categories.
Tags can complement categories. Use categories for broad topics and put a post in only one category. Use tags as descriptive tools to further break down a topic with multiple keywords. Tags and categories shouldn’t overlap. If you create a category social media don’t also create a tag social media, instead create tags such as Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn in the category social media.
TO DO: Prior to the workshop, put Word documents into your drop box folder with page content and a blog post or two. Bring with you your sitemap document and other notes that you’ve created during the process of mapping your website data architecture.
Pat yourself on the back
We know this has been a lot of hard work but believe us, working through these steps has been time well spent.
Advance planning will bring clarity to you and will improve your website visitors’ experience.
Your website content will change as you and/or your business changes but by working through this process you will have laid a solid foundation.