Content strategy involves identifying the type of content that will best enable you to communicate to your online audience. The information below will help you to create and publish useful, usable content.
- A content strategy defines:
- key themes and messages
- recommended topics
- content purpose
Define Your Audience
The most important question to ask and answer for any website is:
Who is the most important audience for this web page or site?
For example, for the University’s homepage, the most important audiences are those who are not already familiar with the University—those for whom the website will be their first impression of the University.
For Arts, Sciences and Engineering websites, the most important audiences should be:
(listed in no particular order)
- Prospective undergraduate students
- Prospective graduate students
- Current students
- Current faculty and staff
- Parents of prospective and current students
Conduct a Content Audit
Each department should conduct a content audit of their existing site. The aim is to identify where each piece of content on each page came from—who requested it, who wrote it, who added it to the site—and when it was last updated. Audits also identify problem areas (misspellings, dead links) and content gaps that could possibly be filled.
Write for the Web
Web writing should be: tight, bright, usable, and actionable.
- As Strunk and White said, “Omit needless words.” As a rule of thumb, limit paragraphs to 70 words. Use bulleted lists whenever possible.
- Ask yourself: “What is the most important piece of information that the most important audience for this page needs to know by the time they leave this page?” and then lead with that. Don’t build up to it; lead with it.
- Bright copy sparkles with meaning and is easy, even fun, to read. Read your Web copy aloud. If it “feels” heavy or dense, it is likely your readers will struggle to get though it to find the value within.
- Make your pages scannable. Use headings as a way to structure your page and as pointers to the most important content. Use specific, meaning‐rich words. Don’t say “Research Opportunities” when the section is really about “Research Grants and Deadlines.”
- Imagine a museum website that listed the dates of its exhibitions on its calendar, but not on the page that described each exhibition. Or a library site that described each of its online collections, but did not also link to them.
- Ask yourself: “On this page, at this moment, what would someone want to be able to do, or what else might they like to know?” and provide a link to that action right there.