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Why You Need Content Driven Web Design


As a business owner, when you’re looking to update your website—or have one made for the first time—the first thing you’ll probably think about is how you want it to look. You’ll want to add additional graphics, update team photos, and list new services. Websites, after all, are a way to visually represent your business online.

But a truly great website is much more than that. What often gets overlooked is the critical role that organization and content play on your website. While it’s true that websites need to properly reflect who you are as a business, they also should be designed with your customer in mind. Your customers are, after all, the ones who will ultimately be spending the most time with your website.

Crafting your website around your customers’ needs is what we call content-driven web design.

What is Content-Driven Web Design?

Content-driven web design is a method of website design that involves using content and page structure to inform visual design on a website. Which means what exactly? It means before you start sending your web designer photos, graphics, and color choices, you first need to think about what words you want on your website and in what order those words need to appear.

The Principle Behind Content Strategy

The guiding principle of creating strategic content for your website is simple: content hierarchy. Content hierarchy is a way of prioritizing the most important information a potential customer will be looking for. We always go back to the customer. What will they be looking for when they reach your website? What service are they interested in or what questions do they have? Your company history and/or photos of your staff might be good supplemental information, but they’re not (in most cases) the main things a potential customer is looking for. 

Let’s say for instance, that you’re a restaurateur with a new location on Main Street. While visitors might want to meet the chef and read the history behind your concept… their primary goal is to find your hours of operation and your daily menu.

Content hierarchy is the principle to follow to ensure customer needs stay at the base of all website decisions. As you implement content-driven web design, it’s best to constantly refer back to what information your target audience might be seeking in order to determine what information should be prioritized on your site.

Why Use Content to Drive Your Website Design

Using a content-first strategy is important for several reasons:

  1. It forces you to take a step back and think about exactly what pain points you’re solving for customers. This dedicated reflection helps you keep your business goals top of mind, and keeps the mission and purpose of your organization clear both internally and outside the organization.  
  2. It makes you prioritize the needs of customers over the needs of other internal departments. We see this a lot. Each department thinks their information is most important and must be highlighted first on the website. But ultimately the most important information is the information the customer is searching for.
  3. It can save you time and money. By developing a clear strategy of how many pages you will have on your website and what will be on each page, you and your web designer will have an agreed-upon plan. This will protect you from vague agreements about how many pages you’re allowed to have.

The Method of Content Driven Design

Now that you have the what and the why you need to know the how.

Developing a content strategy might sound daunting, but we promise it isn’t. In fact, the process can be broken down into three steps: site structure, page structure, and content. None of these steps exists in a vacuum. In fact, they are all closely related and should be viewed more as building blocks than independent tasks.

First things first, you’re going to want to start big.

Before you even consider the words on a page, you’ll want to come up with a functional site map. The site map will then inform how each page is structured. Once you’ve decided how each page will be structured, then you can nail down the actual content. This content then guides your designer.

Let’s define some of those terms. 

What is a site map? A site map is a list of all the pages on your website. These can either be a numbered list or shown as a visual. (See the graphic below for reference)


What is page structure? Page structure refers to a detailed outline of what content is on each specific page on your website. It should be created after the site map.

 

 

What is content? Content refers to the actual words/copy you use to fill in your page structure outlines. This is the final piece of the puzzle and should be created last.

The Process of Website Content Strategy

To create a customer-centric, content-driven website, we need to explore how content hierarchy fits into site structure, page structure, and content.

Site Structure
To best understand what site structure is and how it fits into your customer first design, let’s check out an example.

This video demonstrates an overwhelming navigation/menu and a homepage that doesn’t direct the visitor to any particular action. When a visitor gets to this page, they don’t know where to go. Even if they use the main navigation, hovering over an item gives them hundreds of other options. There is no clear path for the user to take. Decision paralysis sets in and instead of learning about a product or service, they exit your website.

What does site structure look like when you institute content hierarchy? Let’s take another look.

With a newly designed version of the above website, the customer is guided down a homepage with very clear direction. The homepage now identifies and calls out the most important actions users on the website want to make. The new navigation at the top of the page is condensed into broad categories so the website visitor is not overwhelmed by a long list of options.

It is important to note that good site structure doesn’t mean simply eliminating a lot of pages. There are a lot of well-structured websites that have a lot of pages. The key is to organize them appropriately. There’s no “magic formula” for the “right” size of a website. You don’t want to look at all the content on your site and just say “nope, it’s too big, let’s nix it all.” This site still shows the same content, but it’s organized more effectively.

Another example is The City of Mauldin. When we were first handed this project we did not recreate exactly what they had using the same format.  Instead, we went through, audited each page, and reorganized the content into bigger, more digestible categories for the audience. Regardless of if you have one audience you are speaking to or many (like a city website) you can identify important user paths and create an effective site structure.

Page Structure
With page structure, we apply the principle of content hierarchy to an individual page by prioritizing the most important information and making sure it appears early on. Typically, you’ll want to start with your homepage because it acts as the train station that routes users to different areas of your website. As you create the structure/outline for each page, think about what messages are most important to get across. This should be based on marketing priority and customer needs.

Each page on your website should have a clear path to action. You never want a customer to get to the bottom of your website page and have nothing to do. You need to call them to action. If you had a customer walk through your brick-and-mortar store, fill up their cart and walk back to the checkout counter, you’d want your associate to ask them if they are ready to check out. Without the ask, they might just leave their items and head home if they can’t find anyone to ring them out.

The same idea should be applied to your website. As you think about what each page needs to say, think about what ‘ask’ makes the most sense, and keep your customers moving towards that checkout—even if the “checkout” is a figurative one to reach out for more information.

To get a clear idea of effective versus ineffective page structure let’s take a look at another example.

In this first example, you see a homepage without a clear call to action or any page structure. All the text is in large paragraphs and the buttons on the right are big, making the visitor think they are important, but it isn’t clear (unless you are a current customer) what those buttons are for.

After looking at this homepage, a potential customer is left with nowhere to go and they are not being called into any kind of action.

With a little page structure, this newly designed homepage for the same company gives users direct calls to action and guides a potential customer through important information.

  • Visitors are immediately directed to either view a printer or explore IT solutions (the company’s main two offerings)
  • Visitors then get an overview of who the company is and have the option to learn more
  • Then they are prompted (again) to view printers and copiers

Giving clear, concise actions for your visitors will help empower them to explore your site on their own terms and discover all you have to offer.

Content
Now comes the fun part—filling in all your outlines with actual content. When you first set out to redesign your website, you may have felt overwhelmed when asked for ‘content.’ But, if you have properly laid the groundwork with site structure and page structure, the content writing will come easy.

At Engenius, we typically write content for our clients, keeping things like clarity, conciseness, SEO best practices, target audience, and brand voice in mind. (Interested in learning more about how our content writing process can help your company? Contact our team here and let’s chat!) Even if you don’t plan on working with a copywriter, though, you should be in a good place to craft well-written, easily digestible content that calls your visitors to action.

Content Writing Tips

Your website content should always be user-focused. It is important to explain what you do and how you do it. We know, this sounds like a no-brainer. But it is easy to get caught up in the daily lingo and jargon of your own industry. What might seem like common sense to you often isn’t to your customers. Ask yourself what level of understanding your audience has of your products and services and write to that level — take the time to explain what you do and how you do it. In today’s world, consumers like to be in charge of their own research and buying process. 

As you write content it’s important to consider: 

  • What does a client need to know about your industry and services?
  • What industry terms might be confusing? 
  • What can you simplify, clarify or rewrite?
  • Is your writing “snackable,” or easily understandable by a potential customer?
  • Does your writing encourage the reader to perform the desired conversion? (such as filling out a form, calling your office, etc.) ?
  • Is your writing grammatically correct?

With a content-driven website, you will be worlds ahead of your competitors and prepared to engage with the world’s internet-savvy consumer. 



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Internet Businesses Tips

Want a new website before 2022?


Most of us start the year with goals: those things we hope to accomplish between each year’s New Years’ party. For some, it’s a company mandate. For others, it’s self-driven. No matter the root of your goals, the 2021 calendar indicates that we’re halfway to the end-of-year deadline. 

I’ve heard from several folks who said they want a new website before the end of the year. One of them said, “Yeah – I’ll start looking into it in the fall.” While his intentions were good, his timeline was anything but.

Understanding how long it takes to complete a project is vital to setting deadlines for your goals. Over the years, I’ve often had conversations with executives who believe a professional, high-quality new website can be created in three or four weeks. While that may be true in some situations, my experience of watching and being a part of hundreds of website builds tells me it is a misguided assumption. 

There are several key things to consider when sketching out your new website timeline:

First – what is the caliber of website you are expecting?

Do you want it to be a strategic marketing vehicle that generates new business leads and reassures prospective customers? Strategy takes time to develop if it is based on data. Pouring over analytics reports, potential keywords to employ, and user data is not an overnight task.  Do you desire quality content? Great copywriters can work quickly – but if they don’t have time to properly research your brand and your industry, the words on the page may not motivate customers to buy from you. 

Great websites are built using a proven process. In fact, the process Engenius uses has undergone a decade of refinement and now has over one hundred fifty steps to ensure that every website produced achieves a minimum level of quality. High-quality websites that achieve revenue-based results are not built in a day. (Interested in learning more? Start the conversation.)

Second – how much preparation have you given to the process?

Have you considered a list of competitor websites that appear to be successful? Have you taken time to understand your own brand enough to articulate it well to a marketing firm? Have you documented your sales process and how you hope to receive leads from your new website? 

It is not vital to do all of these things before talking to a web design firm; in fact, they may be able to help you answer these questions. It is important, however, to realize that answering these questions takes time.

Third – how much time and what level of priority can you devote to your new website?

If you are thinking you can hand a pile of paper to your website company and walk away, you are mistaken. In our modern world, your website is the hub of your entire marketing strategy. Devoting time to the scheduled review checkpoints with your website team will ultimately determine the success of the project. 

Only you work in your business day-in and day-out, meeting with customers, understanding the needs of those you work with. Your website team should be experts in developing great websites – but you cannot expect them to know every nuance of your company, your brand, and your approach to sales and marketing. Put succinctly: you must make time to be available to your website team throughout the process.

Determining how much time you have to devote to the website build process is vital for setting your own expectations. If you are going to let weeks elapse between giving content, reviewing, giving feedback, and approval to your website team, then expect the project to last a while. If you have the flexibility to review and give approval within two days, expect the project to move along at a more normal pace.

My experience tells me that a great modern website takes about three months to build, from the day the contract is signed to the day it launches – IF everything is optimal, the client doesn’t take a vacation in the middle of the project, and the client responds within two business days to all requests. However, because many clients have multiple priorities to juggle and the new website is merely one of them, most great website projects take between four and five months to realistically get from contract to launch.

Is a new website a goal you set for 2021?

If launching before the ball drops on New Year’s is a priority, now is the time to get your ducks in a row and begin the process. Waiting until fall to even start talking about it will only lead to one of two things: sacrificing quality or missing your deadline. 



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How To Make Money Writing and Selling Your EBooks Online


Today, the popularity of eBooks has opened up opportunities to both writers and non-writers. You can make money writing and selling your ebooks online as a freelance writer or by hiring a ghostwriter to do it for you.

The EASIEST Ways To Earn Extra Cash Online…

It doesn’t matter whether you are an experienced wordsmith or a newbie writer, you can make money writing fiction or non-fiction ebooks. Still curious on how you can make money writing ebooks? This article will fill you in with all the details so read on.

How To Start Writing eBooks

1. Choose a Topic 

The first step to making money writing and selling ebooks is to find a topic you want to write about. If you have a blog, you can write an ebook on the topic of your blog. If not, you can write on any topic once you can provide valuable content.

Have you already written articles and blog posts for others on a niche topic? Then you’re already in the perfect position to write ebooks on that topic for you to sell to potential customers. 

Have a think about what subjects you enjoy writing about. Once you’ve chosen your topic, what’s next!

2. Write Your eBook

Now that you know what topic you wish to focus on, start writing a helpful ebook that you know will solve a problem for your readers, something they will need, want and love. 

You can easily do this in Microsoft Word and Google Docs in the first instance before converting and making your ebook compatible with a number of online ebook platforms. Go here for a tutorial.

3. Design Your eBook

The next step is to make sure that your eBook stands out from the crowd by designing a great cover with a professional and attractive look. 

You can do this yourself using an application like Canva which has great templates that can be easily updated, or you can choose to pay someone to design your ebook for you. 

Fiverr is a great place to find a graphic designer if you don’t have the design experience. With a stunning cover design, your ebook can grab the attention of your ideal target readers.

4. Upload Your EBook

Once you are happy with the content and design of your ebook you can upload or publish your book online. There are several places where you can upload your ebook and they are as follows:

You can upload your ebook to your very own blog or site. You can add payment buttons by selling your digital products through a third party provider like Gumroad, Sendowl, Easy Digital Downloads, Shopify Lite, Payhip, or Woocommerce and quickly collect your payments through PayPal, Stripe and other payment gateways.

Amazon has a worldwide audience, so uploading your book to their site can attract a huge number of buyers. You can upload the Amazon link of your ebook to your own blog or site and it’s both FREE and easy to get started!

  • iBooks is another which is a part of the Apple ebook platform similar to Kindle publishing.
  • You can self-publish your ebooks via Smashwords another reputable platform. Smashwords allows you to distribute your e-books to the Apple iBookstore, the Sony Reader Store, Kobo, and more distributors.
  • Blurb.com works in a similar way to Smashwords and allows you to sell your ebook on the Blurb bookstore and connect to other online stores such as Amazon, iBooksstore. 

4. Promote Your eBook

Once you have done steps one through three how are you going to promote your book to get those sales? 

Writing an attention grabbing description of your ebook with useful keywords will help to sell it quicker. You can use any of the social media platforms to promote and market your ebook such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and, of course if you already have a blog or site you can definitely promote it there too. 

You can use additional incentives such as coupon codes for introductory price reductions that can be redeemed at checkout.

You can also use other promoting strategies such as offering a giveaway, writing guest posts on other bloggers sites promoting your ebook, taking part in podcast interviews and even doing paid ads.

Another great method to promote your ebook is to share testimonials. You can get a small number of beta testers to review your ebook, use their positive reviews and share it on your blog or site and all relevant social media platforms.

Now that you’ve done the planning, creation and promoting, it’s time to sell your books. Continue reading to find out the best places to sell your ebooks,

Where Should I Sell My EBook?

Once you have published your ebooks online the aim is to earn money each time a copy is sold. Here are the best places to sell your ebook online:

1. Your Blog

As mentioned before, you can sell your ebooks directly on your own blog, keeping the majority of the profits. Keep in mind that the more traffic you generate on your blog the more money you can earn from the sale of your ebook. 

If you want the best results when selling on your blog make sure to write about the topics you blog about in a friendly and informative tone. That way, you will have an audience that is interested in your niche. The more readers that go to your blog will increase your chances of selling more ebooks.

Again, continue to promote your blog and ebooks through article marketing, social media networks, writing guest posts, and the many other methods.

2. Affiliate Programs

If you have been receiving a positive number of monthly sales and a lot of inquiries, you can set up an affiliate program for interested bloggers, writers, or anyone that wants to promote your ebooks. 

This is an excellent way for others to promote your ebook to a new audience and for you to make more money, gain new followers and help others promoting your ebook to earn money as well.

So how does it work? Your affiliate partners will do all the marketing of your books online via their own blogs, sites, social networks, or other channels and you will pay them an agreed amount of money for each sale brought about by their marketing effort. 

I recommend using SendOwl. With this platform you can provide each person with a unique affiliate link that they will share with their followers. This is one of the easiest ways to sell your ebooks online.

3. Online Platforms

There are a variety of other places on the internet where you can publish and sell your ebooks to make money every month. Here are a few more online platforms you can use to sell your ebooks to your targeted audience: 

4. Amazon

If you want to sell your books online, Amazon is the best place to get the exposure your online book needs to get sold. You can list your ebooks on Amazon paying a fixed amount as service fees. When a copy of your ebook is sold, you earn 70% of the sale. Amazon is a great selling platform that allows you to reach a much larger audience.

5. Kindle Store

With the Amazon Kindle store, you can publish ebooks on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to make money online. Publishing on the Amazon Kindle store is a lucrative way to earn money from your ebook. The Kindle app can be used on almost any device such as iPads, smartphones with the advantage of reaching a global audience.

6. Google Play Books

Beside downloading apps on Google Play, a great place that you may not have thought of is Google Play Books. You will earn a 70% split on any ebook sold. It’s very simple to sign up to.

7. eBay

Although it’s not the first place you would think of, you can list your ebooks on eBay and sell them online. You pay a cut of the sale price for each transaction to eBay.

Tips on Making Money Selling eBooks

  • Content: The key to making money by writing and selling ebooks online is to write well-researched and informative content that provides a solution to a common problem people may have.
  • Non-Fiction: If you are writing non-fiction, make sure you write valuable, in-depth content that your readers will find helpful as there may be similar ebooks on that topic online already.
  • Cover: Have a great cover design that looks eye-catching and grabs the readers’ attention.
  • Reviews: If you are selling through Amazon, encourage buyers to leave an honest review. Getting reviews will help your ebook rank higher in search results on Google and other search engines so more prospective buyers can find and buy it.

Final Thoughts on Writing eBooks to Sell

Hopefully you’ve been inspired by the information to write and sell ebooks. Why not start writing a useful digital book? The positives of this profitable online business is that all age groups; teens, stay at home moms, and retirees are able to create, design and publish online books. 

To be successful as an ebook writer and seller, you must write great content on a desirable topic, have a well-designed cover, promote it on social media once it is published, and sell it via the various online platforms. Now is the time for you to enter this lucrative business and share this idea with others!

You May Also Like:

Make Money Writing and Selling Your E-books Online: 7 Ways To Earn

 



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