Ask an Account Manager: Everything You Wanted to Know About Content for Your Website Design Project
Did You Know Content is the Number One Cause of Website Project Bottlenecks?
As Account Managers here at efelle creative, we're as eager as anyone to get projects launched—we love to make our clients happy and see websites that we've all spent a good chunk of time working on go live for everyone to see. Of course, delays are a part of any sort of construction process, and online marketing projects are not excluded from that reality.
So, what's the most frequent hold up for site launches?
We get it—writing web copy can feel a lot like homework, and considering the fact that most of our clients already have a lot on their plates—full-time jobs, families, social lives, actual school work—it makes sense that scheduling time to write up page blurbs and locate stock images can be a challenge at best and a complete schedule disruptor at worst.
The thing is, the sooner content is available during the course of the project, the more we'll be able to design the site around your specific needs—this means a smoother process for everyone, a quicker launch, and a better user experience for your customers.
The good news? If you don't want to hammer out paragraph after paragraph of text for your website, we have excellent copywriters and editors available to give your team a hand—all you gotta do is ask.
But if your team is able and willing to take on the challenge of hunting and gathering your own content, here's a list of frequently asked content-related questions us Account Managers hear all the time.
What does good website content look like?
This will depend on the specific objectives of your project. In general, good content does the following:
- Loads quickly: Ie, your images aren't too big, you're not overloading the page with animations and auto-play videos, etc.
- Is structured like pages in a textbook: Every page should open with a descriptive title (this is usually found in the "above the fold" masthead area of the page) and have a series of headers that break up text content in an easily digestible manner.
- Is easy to access: Most pages should be within a couple clicks of your main navigation bar which should "stick" to the top or side of the screen as users scroll up and down.
- Is accessible for visually impaired users: Images that are not just page decoration should feature descriptive "alt" tags, captions should be provided for multimedia, etc.
- Is rich in keywords: Major search engines deprecated the use of keywords in metadata years ago—instead, your keywords should be used organically in your headers and body content throughout your site.
How can I use my custom designed website and its content to improve SEO?
At efelle, not only do we stay on top of what’s current in web standards, our CMS was built from the ground up with SEO in mind. Since most of our projects are custom designs, we also design with SEO in mind. This means we bake SEO best practices into pretty much every site we build; arming your pages with additional onsite SEO ammo is oftentimes as easy as clicking a few buttons and inputting new text directly into your CMS.
Here are a few ways in which the built-in functionality of your future website will help increase your place in search rankings:
- We'll build your website to load fast and act responsively across all viewports, using W3C standard compliant code to ensure consistent viewing for all web-enabled devices (in plain speak: it'll look good on both your desktop computer and mobile devices); because more and more users are making use of mobile to explore the internet, search engines are increasingly penalizing websites that do NOT have mobile-friendly options.
- We can build contact pages that not only have fully custom forms for capturing leads, but that also have interactive Google-based maps showcasing your company's physical location (unsurprisingly, Google is a fan of this feature).
- We'll install your Google Analytics script onto your site for you; you may use Google Search Console to ensure your website is re-indexed after launch.
- We will aid in writing 301 redirects to pass forward SEO "juice" from your previous site to your new site.
- We'll show you how easy it is to update your site's metadata in our user-friendly CMS.
- Be comprehensive—your page doesn't need to be a mile long to rank well with Google, but make sure each page makes use of appropriate keywords and does so in a way that helps users understand who you are, what you do, where you're located, and whom you serve.
How many words should be on each webpage?
Echoing the last point in the previous section, each page should be "long enough." What does that mean?
It means including important information about your business wherever it's appropriate and describing in detail the products and services you offer. As the Moz Blog puts it, your goal should be to answer a user's query: "Google is able to see that people who click on a particular result are less likely to click the back button and choose a different result or more likely to stay on that page...and engage further with that content and solve their whole task. That is a good sign to Google, and they want to rank more of those."
Don't try to incorporate keywords that are not relevant to what you do. Simply aim to answer the question, "What would a potential customer want to know about our business?"
Can we launch without all my final content?
We strongly recommend inputting as much content as possible into each page prior to going live, as Google will begin re-indexing the new website as soon as it launches. This means that if content is missing or incomplete, your omitted info will be not be factored into your new search rankings and will likely result in an initial drop in your Organic Page Rankings. In turn, fewer people will be able to find your website when searching for specific keywords—and we don't want that to happen! This is why our team requests the content from the very top to the very bottom of each page—it helps you increase your rankings and set apart your site as favorable in Google’s eyes. Even if you’re planning on transferring most of the content from your current site, your new webpage designs may be more robust than the previous version, meaning you may need to craft new headers or additional text.
Not a wordsmith? Don’t worry about it! We have copywriting services that can be added to any project. Our copywriters are experienced in crafting tailored, well-written messaging that resonates with your audience and delivers results. Whether you’re looking for a total textual overhaul or just want us to fill in the content gaps, we can set up an introductory meeting with a copywriter to begin crafting that new content. Please feel free to reach out to our team or your Account Manager for a quote.
What do my project’s Content Hours include?
Your project hours for content transfer are meant for our team to ensure that we insert as much live "example" content into your new CMS as possible so that once you've received training, it'll be easy for your team to get in and take care of the rest.
If you run low on content hours towards the tail end of your project and would like our team to complete the additional content entry effort to get your site up and running, you can consult with your Account Manager for an estimate on the extra hours required. As a best practice, however, we encourage your team to get started on working in the CMS early and often.
My website needs new content or graphics. Can you create this for me?
One of the advantages of collaborating with our design team on a custom website project is that they establish a strong understanding of your brand needs right from the start of the web design process. As a result, they’re equipped to help with additional needs for the website or with marketing collateral that integrates seamlessly with the new website’s design. Our designers ask smart questions to get to the heart of your brand, business, and culture. Please feel free to reach out to your Account Manager for a quote to include this in your project’s design work.
If you need additional written content for your website, copywriting services can be added to your project to help you create new messaging (is it obvious yet that we're a big fan of our copywriting services?).
Can you send us a mockup of what the page would look like with our new images and text?
FusionCMS makes it easy for you to change text and images with a few clicks. For this reason, we believe the bulk of your project’s design effort should go toward creating the best possible unique page templates, rather than swapping out content that may not affect the layout of the webpage.
Of course, if you’re able to provide content before the start of each design milestone, then we’ll be happy to feature that content directly in the designs wherever possible. Otherwise, our designers will use example imagery and text that’s reflective of the intended final content. You can rest assured that any text or images you see in your design mockups can be changed down the line after the website is developed.
Why do you want 85% of my content before your start building my website?
We create custom websites, which means that every page on your website is not fashioned from a "plug-and-play" template that hundreds of other companies have used for laying out their website's text and imagery. (Read more about our take on custom web design in this post.) Instead, we create a series of fully custom templates that can be used and reused to house all the various types of content relevant to your business.
Here’s the thing: after years of experience doing this, we’ve found a lot of our clients request design changes to their site once it's already been developed because they didn't have final content complete until well after design approval. Not only do design changes mean extra costs for the client when a project’s already been developed, they tend to delay launch.
For the best results, our design team needs to be able to understand the relationship between your content and the structure it’ll be housed in. This is why we request that your team provide us at least 85% of the content for your pages before we begin turning your website designs into fully developed code. Not only will this allow us to create a website that is the best fit for your business and your brand, it ensures the website will be ready to launch in a timely manner.
When will my new website be ready for me to see?
Once we’ve received all the content needed to begin the web development process, builds typically take approximately 10-12 weeks to complete. This build time may vary based on the complexity of the website, whether any custom functionality needs to be implemented and tested, how quickly we obtain any needed credentials or other access as needed for development, and whether any design change requests were made after the development began.
Once the primary build is complete and the bulk of your content in place, we will move into Quality Assurance testing, which ensures all elements work and look good on both mobile and desktop browsers. It's usually some time around this phase that we'll send you access to your demo site.
Our testing processes are very thorough and involve all teams from design to development; we will work through any development items and make sure the final site looks and functions as intended. Because development QA testing often has a lot of moving parts, we can't easily pinpoint an exact date for completion of this phase. As with any development project—whether it involves building a house or building a website—delays do happen, but we know our clients have stakeholders to speak to, so we’ll do everything we can to provide a window for an estimated completion date.
And remember: your Account Manager gets (almost) as excited about launch day as you do!
Getting Content Right Doesn't Have to Be Complicated. We Can Help!
Whether you’re embarking on a designing a fresh website or redesigning your existing one, making the right choices to ensure your website’s content starts off on the right foot can determine your website’s success for years to come. Contact us to find out how our visual designers, content strategists, account managers, copywriters and developers can all play a part in your next successful web project. Call us at 206.384.4909 or use our online contact form for a free consultation.