Solutions to help you communicate Clearly

Featured Site

Lakeview Church of the Nazarene

Lakeview Church of the Nazarene

Link opens in new window

Published: February, 2005

Lakeview Church of the Nazarene is a fellowship of committed believers in Nampa, Idaho

Site Content Help

One of the most daunting tasks a site owner faces is putting content onto the website, and keeping it current. would like to offer a few tips to make this job easier for you. 

Don't feel overwhelmed

Trying to set up a site or a new portion of your site from scratch can be tough.  You have lots of ideas, but getting started can be intimidating.

First of all, relax.  You can only do this one page at a time, and your efforts should be concentrated on that one page.  As you are working on a page, undoubtedly ideas for other pages will come to mind.  Just jot them down and get back to the page you are working on.

Trying to have five, ten or more pages open and in process at one time is probably going to slow down the whole process.

The process of building your information may take several days or weeks.  Try to set aside a regular time to work on your site without other distractions.  Even 30 minutes of quiet time to work can be very productive. 

Don't compose your content in the CMS

Working with the CMS will be a little confusing for most users at first.  While it is very similar to word processing software you are probably used to, there are some differences.

Your best bet for writing content is to compose the text in a word processor, text file editor or with good old pencil and paper.  These are technologies you are probably very familiar with so the technology won't get in the way of your creative process.

Once you have composed a block of text or a page of text, you can then transfer it to the CMS. 

A device to help write content

When people ask us what they should put on their sites, one of the things we recommend is the following little device.

Image you are talking to a new friend, and they ask you what you do.  Take a tape recorder, and start talking as if you were talking to that friend, and they had infinite patience to hear you talk.  Try to imagine questions they might ask, and answer them as best you can.

When you go back through the tape, you will probably have pages of information that you can edit and put up on your site telling things about your business or organization. 

Try to think like your users

A difficult thing to do, but probably one of the most important for your website is to think like your users.  Try to figure out the information our users are going to think is most important, and have that information be the easiest to find on your site.

A couple of examples.  If you are a church then a potential visitor is not going to be looking for minutes of the Missions Committe meeting, they're going to be looking for things like where your church is, what time the services and meetings are and possibly a phone number to get more information.  This information should be no more than one click deep in your site, and should be easy to find.

If you are a business, the same types of things apply. Where are you located, what services do you offer, what are your business hours, what is your phone number.

A common mistake is to use your organizations internal structure to determine how the website is organized.  This may be good for the people inside your organization, but may be confusing to outside users.

If you'd like, can offer consulting services to help you find out how your users are using your site and what they are looking for. 

Look at similar sites for ideas

One of the fastest ways to get ideas for content for your site it to look at the websites of your competitors.  Please, don't just copy their pages verbatim, but rather look to them to find out general areas of information that need to be shown on your site, then use your own information to write your own text. 

Use your existing materials

You probably already have several newsletters, flyers, contact letters, brochures, promotional materials or other information that tells about aspects of your business or organization.

These existing materials can in many cases be used exactly like they are to put up information on your site.  At the very least, they are a great starting point for writing new copy.  Look around, and see what you already have. 

Keep it simple, keep it short

I realize this page breaks both of those rules, but I'm assuming that you are highly invested enough in your site to be willing to wade through this long page to get the information your need. That will not always be the case with your website users.

Try to keep your sentences and paragraphs on your pages as brief as you can. Wherever possible, try to make sure that the important information on a page is visible without scrolling down the page. Website users are a varied bunch. Some will plow through every word you write, but most will only scan the page, looking for the information they want.  If they don't see it quickly, they will move on to one of your competitor's sites. 

Provide cross links

Povide links in your text to other pages in your site when your mention a topic that is covered on another page.  Your users will appreciate being able to quickly find that information instead of having to wade through your menu. 

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should

Let me give you an example.  If you've ever seen some church bulletins, they look like the word processing file somehow got crossed with the new 1001 fonts disk that someone picked up in the bargain bin at the office supply store. Dozens of different styles, fonts, sizes, bold and normal, underlined, italic, name it.

Now take a look at something like a magazine, or a newspaper.  These are information sources just like your website.  They do not have all sorts of fonts, sizes and styles (probably) but rather have a cohesive look to the entire publication.  There are places where they will use something else for emphasis, but for the most part, all the information is presented in the same manner.

A website that makes excessive use of bold, underline, italic, all caps, exclamation points, smiley faces, etc. leaves many users with the impression that the information is not reliable, or that it was put together by a high school kid.

Before you put that sentence in all caps, bold, underline take a moment and think "does this sentence really warrant that kind of emphasis?" can help

For some site owners, the task of writing clean, informative copy for their sites is either not possible or just too time consuming.  If you need some help, can provice consulting services to hwlp you write your website.

If you would like more information about these services, please contact us

2922 Pascoe Lane, Nampa, ID 83686