The primary reason people go online is to consume content. To read news, look at status updates, view photos, read restaurant reviews, look at credit card spending habits — always to learn about something that interests them.
So why aren't companies putting content first when building new websites?
When it comes to website planning, we already know that we should focus on user experience and apply the best web technologies to meet the needs of our user. However, what’s missing is the importance of content and the creation of a comprehensive and unified strategy surrounding it.
Ideally, before a web project moves from site map approval into the wireframe/prototyping stage, the content should be completely mapped out. Understanding content types will help the UX team use the appropriate tools (placement on the page, visuals, type size etc.) to get the messages out.
Currently, we are seeing the discussion about web content often limited to who will be in charge of it. In the best situations there may also be talk around SEO and the inclusion of social media feeds. Most of the time, that's it. And that is not enough.
Questions need to be asked around the purpose of the website and what makes the company different. Is there existing content? Does the copy need to updated, edited, or in most situations dramatically condensed? After these questions are answered, all the different content types that will live on the website should be analyzed for a structured taxonomy that will in turn drive functionality.
This gives the website the ability to dynamically generate related information across all pages, allowing a company to "cross-sell" material the user might never have known existed.
An example of this can be seen within the @zyncagency recent rebuild of the Canadian Olympic Committee responsive website: Olympic.ca. Users immediately get access to information about the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, the athletes, the official twitter feed, as well as related stories and videos. A keyword tagging system offers up relevant dynamic content throughout the site based what the user is looking at.
Today, Websites are dynamic and fresh. They need to be easy for people to update with new content on a regular basis. With a well thought out content strategy, websites can meet the needs of the user and keep them coming back for more.