Content Strategy focuses on the planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content. “Content” here includes not just the words on the page, but also the images and multimedia that are used. Ensuring that you have useful and usable content that is well structured, accessible, and easily found is vital to a website’s successful user experience.
The guidelines, tips, and resources below will help you plan for effective web content.
Who is your audience?
Your first priority for your website should be providing visitors with the information you know or think they will need.
It’s a good exercise to write out a few questions you commonly hear from students, parents or other people regularly visiting your site. Some examples might include:
- What does this department study?
- What makes this program unique?
- Are there learning opportunities outside of the classroom?
- What kind of jobs can a student get with a major in this discipline?
- What experiences have other students had in the department?
How will your content be organized?
Be strategic, and consider your existing content — pages often get added onto a site as it evolves, without considering overall organization and clarity. Instead, take a content inventory of the pages you have and the way they are arranged to make the organization of content as easy to follow as possible.
How will users navigate your content?
The local navigation in WordPress is a simple way to display your site’s top-priority pages that users will need to frequently refer to. Keep the following recommendations in mind as you plan your navigation links.
- Keep navigation simple. To avoid decision fatigue, limit your navigation links to just a few top-level pages. You can link to more in-depth content from those pages’ main content.
- Navigation isn’t a sitemap. The sidebar doesn’t need to lay out the entirety of your site organization, as long there are clear links to everything in the content itself.
- Don’t duplicate main content links. If you’re planning a list of links in the main text of your homepage, don’t re-create that list in the navigation. It may hurt your rankings with search engines, and studies show that users find duplicate links fatiguing.
Web Accessibility Requires a Sustainable Process
As you develop your content strategy, make sure to build in web accessibility to your processes. The more you know about the how, what, and why of web accessibility, the better equipped you’ll be to make the journey from feeling frustrated about creating accessible content to feeling empowered. Since web accessibility is never officially complete, it also requires a sustainable process. While it can vary from department to department, we recommend the following framework: audit, review, remediate, plan.
Step One: Audit
Start by taking stock of all the content on your site, including images, videos, documents, and the text content itself. There are tools available in Siteimprove to help you complete an audit of all your web content.
Using Siteimprove to Audit Web Content
- Login to your Siteimprove Dashboard
- Select the service Quality Assurance
- Select Inventory and pick one of the listed options to view your current pages, links, documents, and media files.
- You can also export content to a CSV file to review in a program like Excel which may make reviewing large amounts of data easier.
Step Two: Review
Once you know what’s on your site, you’ll want to review it to see what’s current, what’s out of date, and what’s not being used. Tools like Google Analytics can help you determine what content your users find most helpful.
Using Google Analytics to Review Traffic
- Login to your Google Analytics Dashboard
- Select Behavior
- Select Site Content
- Select All Pages to review your highest and lowest traffic pages.
Step Three: Remediate
For the content that needs to stay online, you’ll need to resolve any outstanding accessibility errors. You can do this by reviewing your reports in Siteimprove or using one of the other tools discussed in this guide.
Using WordPress to Remediate Content
- Review the Accessibility Issues in Siteimprove to identify what pages on your site have accessibility related errors
- Login to your WordPress account to access the editor
- Review Editor Level Priority Issues to fix any related issues.
Step Four: Plan
New Web Content
Finally, you should develop some internal plans and processes for how future content is reviewed and approved prior to publishing online. After all, it’s much easier to plan for accessibility than to clean up after the fact. The WebAIM Quick Reference: Testing Web Content for Accessibility page can serve as a good guide for reviewing content.
Monitoring Current Content
Also, develop a monitoring plan for how content will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. We recommend setting up a weekly emailed report from Siteimprove and spending about an hour a week reviewing the report contents and updating your site as needed. For a recommended framework, see Accessibility and Quality Assurance Review of Website.