“I always make sure that when my team touches a piece of content or collateral, they make it better than it was before. No matter how small the requested change is.”
I was inspired by this comment from Bennie Johnson, Global Chief Marketing Officer at the HR Certification Institute.
It’s a liberating concept. We website managers look at the Herculean task of updating thousands of website pages and making the whole thing better. Then throw our hands up in frustration.
But here’s a better approach… make a series of small improvements and over time you will change the whole thing.
Maybe all you’ve been asked to do is update a date or add a paragraph. You only have 5 minutes and need to move on to the next task. How can you possibly make an improvement on the page without this turning into a big deal?
Here are 5 quick fixes to can make while editing each page that over the long term will gradually improve the quality of your website.
1) Make Sure There Is a Visual Hierarchy
As you look at the page, are you SURE you know what the most important thing is on the page? Or is all content given the same weight? Make sure the most important content or message is the most prominent, that related content is grouped together, and there is a flow through the page.
2) Clean up the Content to Make it “Web Friendly”
Web users only read 25% of the text on a page and scan pages rather than actually read them. Take a few minutes to shorten the content, break into shorter paragraphs and highlight key content with bullets and/or bolding for emphasis.
3) Add Relevant Links to Other Pages in Your Site
The origin of the web was text documents that linked to each other. Look at the content on the page and find opportunities to embed text links to other relevant pages in your site.
4) Add SEO Meta Data and Plain English So the Page Can Be Found
Make sure the page has an appropriate description and keywords in the meta data. Keep the description brief (under 160 characters) and write it from an outsider’s perspective. Also make sure the content is free of insider jargon and uses plain English based on how external audiences would refer to the subject.
5) Add a Graphic or Photo to keep Users Engaged
Pages with graphics and photos grab users interest and keep them on the page. Add a small photo or graphic to illustrate the content on the page. Keep it under 200 pixels wide so it is noticeable but doesn’t detract too much.
Lastly, decide if the page needs more work than you can do right now. Every now and then you’ll come across a page that needs more attention than you can give it in 5 minutes. Decide if this is one of those pages and notify the page owner or subject matter expert that it needs a bigger review and update.
By making these small improvements in each site page as you update your content, you’ll find that over time you have improved the entire site. If each journey begins with a first step, the path to a better website can be filled with many small improvements.