Web content is the “meat” of your site and the primary reason visitors come. “Content” actually consists of all the copy you have written and any images you will be including with that written copy. The rest is just presentation. Because people traverse the Web differently than they do printed media like books, magazines, etc, there are some standards that can help you reach them better.
Clear Headlines: The typical person scans more than they read. Usually a visitor has come for a specific purpose. To capture their attention it’s good to have clear, descriptive headlines for your all of your content. As with other aspects of a site, the user is only there for seconds. The more they have to think to find what they’re looking for, the less likely they will remain on your site beyond those initial few seconds.
Attention Span: Most people have very short attention spans when reading. This is why good Web copy is usually written to be short, concise, and directly to the point. It is very rare for a visitor to actually read your site’s copy word-for-word.
Specific Subject: Often those looking for information are easily overwhelmed. Web content must be focussed on a very specific subject. If someone clicks to a page, expecting a particular piece of information, but is confronted with multiple subjects to sift through, they will probably give up and leave. If you DO have multiple pieces of information on one page, they need to be related to the same subject, and clearly organized. An example of this would be having a page called “Service Experience” and placing service times, dress code, music, and child care all on one page. Normally this would be a bit much, but if broken into individual, spaced out sections with descriptive headlines the reader can easily find what they are looking for.
Images: The fact that Web visitors are easily overwhelmed also affects the use of images in your content. The saying that, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” is incredibly true with the Web. As visually oriented as we are these days, often more can be accomplished with a well placed, Web-optimized image than the verbal explanation. The important thing to remember is that any images embedded into the content should contribute to the content, not distract from it.
A note about Web-optimized images: It’s fairly common for people to take images right from their digital cameras, scanners, or other devices and just slap them onto their Web site. The problem is that these images are usually optimized for print media by default, so their resolution and size are much greater than what is needed for the Web. These images have serious, adverse effects on a site’s load time, unless they’re optimized for the Web. Any professional Web designer can assist you in optimizing your images.
Clear headlines, specific subjects, good organization and quick loading images are important aspects of successful Web content. Keeping your site uncluttered and easy to understand will ensure that your audience will keep coming back for more information.