Insights

The Content Ocean

Digital Content Manager
Valtech

March 31, 2016

We are living in a digital age where users are drowning in oceans of information and are being exposed to neverending waves of content on a daily basis. To avoid drowning in irrelevant content, users will do everything to swim away from the overwhelming waves. Read on and save your users from drowning!

As users are becoming more careful about which websites and content they are paying attention to, it is vital to create valuable content in order to get their attention. To do so, you must understand what valuable content is to users.

Valuable content is not about choosing the right words and writing like William Shakespeare. It is neither about sitting down and typing whatever the company perceives as relevant. Instead, valuable content is about meeting the users’ needs and making sure they get the most out of your website.

Let’s say you are redoing or designing a new website. You have a clear picture of the company’s business goals. But how do you connect these business goals to the users’ needs and make sure they are aligned? This can be extremely challenging if there is no common understanding of the users’ needs, business goals and how the different pages should be connected.

This is where The Content Model comes in the picture. This is an approach that bridges the gap between business objectives and user tasks.

So… Now you understand the scope of the model, but how do you actually get started?

Step 1: Identifying goals

Well, first of all you need to identify the business goals and tie them to the tasks the users will be performing. Maybe you are designing a website for an employment agency, and its business goal is to assist users find different job positions. Then some relevant user tasks to include in your page could be reading different job offers, saving offers, applying for jobs etc.

These are very critical to define with your team before actually creating your website. The problem with many current websites is that they are created based on other goals than the users’, thus incorporating unnecessary waves of information. Often, this information has nothing to do with the users’ tasks and hence is causing a bad user experience.

Are you redoing an existing website? Then it is a good idea to go through the content and strip it from any content that does not clearly support the users’ tasks. Because once you get rid of the nonessential content, you are left with the core. These chunks of information are what you want to base your design on, as these are pages where content represents both business goals and user tasks.

Step 2: Identifying inward paths

Now that you have your goals and tasks defined, the next step is to identify inward paths. An inward path is nothing more than the path your users swim to land in your ocean. Users can land on your website through a variety of ways. Maybe they performed a search on a search engine, they clicked from within an email or maybe they landed on the website through social media platforms.

This means that any page on the website could possibly be the entry point for a user. It is therefore critical to map the different paths that users will need to travel, in order to reach a particular piece of content.

Step 3: Identifying core content

Now you are able to make qualified decisions about the core content. In this step, you need to consider relevant modules, widgets, layout elements and content to include in your page. These should all focus on optimizing business objectives and increase the user experience.

So, you need to use all the information from the previous steps, in order to choose the right content in the right order. Having a solid user research foundation at hand will make this process much simpler as you will gain a better understanding of the users.

Furthermore, it can highly benefit website owners to consider including trigger words on the page, which will help with the SEO or navigation labels.

Step 4: Identifying forward paths

Setting forward paths is the last step in the model. Here you need to consider how to push the users to take the next step – a forward path on the site. At this point, you need to think about business goals to drive them towards. Think about it this way: what do you want your users to do after a completed task or when they get to the core content page? You might want them to review a product, share a purchase on Facebook or even further their knowledge. Regardless of what it might be, you must ensure there are ‘calls to action’ on the page that will link to all these destinations.

The Content Model gathers input from various members of the project team and this makes it a very useful approach to design websites. Once people with different fields of expertise are sitting together to create content – magic happens! The reason for this? Their emphasis is not on developing as much content as possible, but instead about discussing the quality, meaning and significance of content.

The model is also helpful as it provides a sketch of what the website will look like. It visualizes the elements that are needed on the page and illustrates why they are there. Precisely this is what makes the model a must-have tool, when starting a web project: its strength lays in its ability to prioritize content and user experience, instead of focusing on irrelevant content that will not benefit the user or support business goals.

If you want to keep your ocean as attractive and safe as you can, without waves of irrelevance that will knock your users over, the Content Model is a must-have tool. It will help your team think before getting started with the website. It will help you deliver valuable content on your website. It will keep your ocean a safe place to swim.

See how two of Denmarks largest estate agents experienced a major increase in conversion rates and became kings of content by - guess what - using the content model. Click here and get inspired!