It's time to create or update your website. What's the first action you take? Usually you contact a graphic designer who can create a pretty design, or a programmer who can build the technical end of the website.
Even the language we use is geared towards that action. We talk about "creating a website," or "building a website". No one ever talks about "writing a website." Often the writer is the last person to be brought on board the project.
Yet, if anything, the writer is the first person to hire.
Here's what happens when you hire a writer first.
How can a writer do all this? Because most writers (the good ones!) do more than provide words on the page. They are also marketing strategists.
- The writer helps you organize the material so that it flows well for marketing purposes. This includes defining which pages you need, what information goes on each page, how the pages are linked to one another so that visitors are guided to go where you want them to go, what information needs to be displayed in sidebars, boxes, or other graphic elements separate from the main body of the content
- The writer helps you define website navigation based on ease of use and come up with user-friendly names for the buttons.
- The writer helps you define the obvious and secondary benefits of your product or service.
- The writer can help you define what makes you stand out from others in your field, so you can be positioned as a "go-to" person.
- The writer can help you narrow down your target market so that your content is written in a way that hits home with a particular group of people
- The writer helps you define your message so that your content is clear and enticing for your readers.
- The writer helps you decide on the "call to action" that best fits in with your marketing strategy and your audience.
- The writer makes sure that every page fulfils its purpose on the site. Yes, every page needs to have a specific objective and the content has to be presented in a way that fulfils that objective.
They have to understand marketing and the psychology of perception and human behavior, in order to write website content that generates interest and grabs attention. They have to know how to present your content in a way that's visually easy to read, makes your website easy to use and the information easy to find.
All the points mentioned above affect the design and programming in smaller or larger ways.
Think of your writer as a "web content developer and marketing strategist" and it begins to make sense.
So often, the content is the last element to be considered. Yet that's backwards.
Sure, content, design and technical functionality have to work together, but it's the words that do the heavy lifting of selling your product or service, providing information, or whatever you want the purpose of the site to be. Design and programming need to support and underscore the message, not overwhelm it or be created in a vacuum independent of the content.
So often, when the designer/programmer is ready to include the content, words are thrown together at the last minute "just to get the site up." I've seen this happen all too often. And the result is a website with a beautiful design, where everything functions impeccably, and content that stinks or navigation that is not user friendly.
These days, the trend is towards websites that are simple and clean looking. A writer who collaborates with your designer and programmer can help to avoid things going off into needless flights of creative fancy, or technical bells and whistles that are nice but not necessary.
Do yourself a favor. Before you hire a designer or programmer for your website, talk to a writer and marketing strategist. Even if you want to write the content yourself, shelling out some dollars for a consultation or two with a writer will help you put foundational elements in place that save you time and money.
Better still, find a writer, graphic designer and technical person who are willing to work together as a team. That way they can play off each other's strengths and expertise, and provide the best possible results for you.
It's worth it to have a site that's not just attractive but is also an effective marketing tool.
Copyright 2010 Maggie Dennison