- Maureen Dillon 08.24.2015
Giving your website's visitor a good user experience doesn't just involve designing your website well. Design is important, but a good design does not guarantee a good user experience. The content on your website must also keep users happy and have them coming back for more. So, how do you write compelling content?
When designing websites, you always keep users in mind. You have to do the same while writing content. You have to figure out who your audience are and why they would want to visit your website. What are they looking for? Are they looking for a particular product or service or just information on a particular topic? Researching your audience will also tell you what kind of content they are looking for. Do they want content in the form of infographs? Are they looking for detailed reports or summaries?
Further, can your target audience be divided into more than one segment? If so, what are the differences between the groups? What are each of them seeking? All of your content need not be target at only one segment. You can gain a wider audience by writing different pieces of content targeting different groups.
When you write something, it is with the intention that your audience will read every word and that your content will drive audience engagement. You want your audience to talk about the content on social media platforms. You want them to comment on it on your blogs. How do you do this?
First, keep in mind that it is very unlikely that every word of your article will be read. Readers generally scan the content. Your article should be formatted to allow this. You must include subsection with appropriate headings that will enable your readers to find what they are looking for quickly.
The introduction also plays a very important role. This is where the user starts reading and if you mess it up, you will lose your reader. The introduction should let readers know the purpose of the article and how it will help them. They shouldn't feel that reading the article would be akin to wasting time. On the contrary, it should make them feel that they would miss out on something important if they don't read it.
The article itself should make the reader wanting more information. Of course, this doesn't imply that you have to leave your article incomplete. Instead, it should encourage readers to ask you questions related to the content of the article. You article must tell readers a story, but it should stay on topic.
Having an opinion can help you to not only keep your users engaged, but also to establish yourself as an expert in your industry. It shows that you know what you are talking about. Of course, not everyone will agree with your opinion. And, those who disagree will probably leave comments on your post. However, why would readers continue to read what you write if you have no opinion? If you are writing a post comparing two products, for example, conclude with what you think is better for a give purpose. You don't have to tell your readers that both options are viable, they know it. They want to know which one is better. So, stop sitting on the fence and tell everybody what you think.
While websites are designed to be visually appealing, including visual content in your article is also a good idea. On social media platforms, posts having visuals are more likely to be re-shared. When including visuals, understand that they must not only be relevant to the topic of the article, they must also be useful. You shouldn't just add a few useless images.
Whatever form of visual content you choose, it must either provide more information or help your readers to better understand the content of your article. You can include infographs, pie charts, screen shots and conceptual diagrams. You can also use photographs to demonstrate a particular. You can embed videos that teach your users how to use a particular product or to give a product demonstration. You can include videos of interviews, if relevant. You can also include maps to show your outreach or the locations of your offices. Visual content helps as long as it is relevant.
Any content you write must be actionable. Once the reader finishes reading it, the article must provide them a call to action. It can be in any form. Before including a call to action, know the purpose of your article and what you want your readers to do once they finish reading it.
For example, if you have written about a product, tell your readers to buy the product and provide them a link to the site from which they can do so. If, on the other hand, you have written a report, you can ask your readers to comment on it or even to share it on social media. If you want them to sign up for a newsletter that gives them more information, tell them that and ensure that your page enables them to do it. Every piece of content that you write must be actionable and it must include a call to action prominently displayed to the reader. Whatever action you call for, provide a way for the readers to take the action easily.
If you are writing content based on a particular source and your information turns out to be inaccurate, your image is hurt. The best way to avoid this is to tell your reader that you have used a source – it may be a blog, or an interview or a book – and to provide a link to it. Not only will this protect you, it will also let your readers know that you are keeping track of what's going on. And, your sources will realize that you value their opinion; in turn, this may prompt them to link to you in their sites.
To conclude, it is not content who is king; rather, compelling content is king. And, the way to go about writing compelling content involves understanding your audience, structuring your article, stating your opinion, providing calls to action, and including visuals.