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Content strategy for Charity websites

Sometimes part of the 'Information Architecture' planning stage of a website project, Content Strategy is a fundamental part of the success of your site.

Most charities know exactly what they want to say and what their message is, but don't know how to say it - effectively - on the web. Good web content is powerful, short; easy to scan over and navigate through. You don't lose your audience in those first few critical seconds with over-long and hard to read content.

Charity sites need to speak to a wide audience (several different audiences, in fact), and tend to focus on emotive images and text, with core messaging about their causes and how they help. It's common to feature large images, video content or graphics. You can see examples of these on our friends at MSI's site - www.ms-society.ie

The more you can identify what your audiences are interested in - and respond to - the easier it is to produce content that is engaging and thought-provoking.

A key part of Information Architecture - 'Personas' - can be used as an approach for planning content. You could consider holding a content strategy workshop; using audience personas to help your staff empathise with each audience type and 'see the site through their eyes'. From this work, your web team can assess the information architecture (navigation and content structure) for the site, ensuring it's relevant to the 'Persona' findings.

Planning and developing your site content needs to begin at the start of the project, and follow the agreed milestones; not be a mad copy-paste scramble from old site to new in the final days before go-live...

Social Media
Linked to your site content will inevitably be Social Media. It's a cost effective way to increase your communication-reach; and ideally has some strategy behind it to keep focus on what's trying to be achieved. Your web team can feed in posts and tweets automatically to the web site or other social media tools - without you having to repeatedly copy-paste!

Tips for Strong Content

Keep it short - use short, punchy content rather than lengthy, rambling articles. Attention spans are getting shorter, so consider using videos to explain issues in a quick, engaging way - Save the Children is producing short videos to tell stories much faster, www.wateraid.org.uk will tell you at first glance: 'Today, 4000 children will die because of dirty water and poor sanitation'. Those 12 words say it all.

Use images - Real, hands on photos of activities and events. No head-and-shoulders shots! Staff and volunteers can - and should - take photos all the time, and save them in a communal image bank. But do try to save budget for a professional photographer, for key marketing images on your home page, brochure covers, advertising etc.

Get organised - Staff and volunteers need to capture all the highs and lows they'll experience in their day - these real-life stories will provide relevant content that will engage readers. Encourage them to save their notes and articles in a story bank - or better still, publish an article on the site!

Talk to your audience - People are used to informal language. Be natural, conversational where appropriate, and use plain English - and try to say 'you' more than 'we' where you can. Use terms that make sense - 'stakeholders' means something to your corporate team, but not to Bob who just wants to know what you spend your donations on.

And crucially - using copy that 'normal' people enter in search engines, makes that article easier to find in search results.

Use Social Media - ideal for presenting your 'personality'. Instead of sharing links to recent blogs or articles, use tools like Twitter and Facebook to chat with your audience. Try to actually reply to/contact someone every few tweets. Monitor your streams and direct audiences to further content.

Have a purpose - whether it's to get new donors, supporters, sponsors or volunteers, there should be a call to action on every page. This could be contact or to find out more, or also see...

Use quotes - comments from staff, volunteers or service users makes content feel 'real' and current.

User testing - your volunteers may be pleased to help with user testing; set them tasks to find certain information, or perform a series of content-related tasks. Getting feedback and input form 'real' users will be invaluable, and can be fed into the site to keep it fresh and effective.

Top tip - Always think about the 'So What?' factor. Why does your audience need to know this information, do they understand it, and what's in it for them...

If you'd like to know more about Information Architecture, Content Strategy or any other topics from this blog, please give us a call or drop us an email - we'd be very happy to talk to you!

Annette Ryske
Annette

Created on Tuesday January 29 2013 01:56 PM


Tags: charity msireland copy seo informationarchitecture contentstrategy


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Me me me me me...

Me me me me me...

More and more Company web sites are using ME. By that I mean they talk about themselves. A lot. "We have a great range of pipe cleaners". "Our business has been running for 250 years and we are brilliant". "Look at our interesting news all about us".

It's boring. And self-orientated. Even when including keywords and SEO-focused copy, the content itself still needs to be interesting and effective for the reader. Customer-focussed, if you like.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
We are WidgetWeb! We have a huge range of products including waterproof widgets. We offer good prices and are a well-established business of 30 years. Browse our site now!
OR
Got a leaky sink? Need to fix it fast, and at a low price? You'll find a full range of waterproof widgets here. In a hurry? No problem. You'll love our super-speedy order process.

Why has your web visitor come to your site? They have a leaky sink and need to find some waterproof widgets - quickly - and for a good price. They’ve not come to hear about how long you've been running for and a load of flowery 'me me me'.

See how Apple are putting this in place - lots more 'you' than 'we' in this iPad piece.

The copy on your site needs to address your visitor and their needs, quickly and effectively. Keep them focussed and you'll have a better chance of them making a purchase, or making contact, or downloading your latest offers... Talk to your customers, not at them.

And finally... For every instance of we, try to say 'you', at least twice.

If you'd like to chat about your web copy with one of the team here at Focus, drop us a line here.

Annette Ryske
Annette

Created on Thursday May 10 2012 09:46 AM


Tags: seo userexperience usability content copy web-development web-design web


Comments [1]