The easiest way to a great Web site

Are you serious about having a great Web site? Great – you should be. And I can tell you the fastest way to get there – just one step.

The easiest way to have a great Web site is to hire a Web content person.

Now stop laughing.

The easiest way to have a great Web site is to hire a Web content person.

True story.

Now, that statement may sound biased coming from me – since I was a Web content writer for almost two years. But it’s true. You need at LEAST one person on your staff dedicated to writing/developing/editing Web content.  Why?

1. Your site has no personality

If a random person here or there is writing for the site, chances are there’s no overall tone. In certain cases different parts of the site may require different tones, but there should be a reason for it – decided by the Web content person, after research.

2. Your site is old

If you don’t have a dedicated staff member reviewing your site, you have outdated content. By at least a year. I promise. Maybe an event was supposed to be annual, but it didn’t survive a second year. Or that “weekly” column hasn’t been written in six months. You need someone to know about these things and keep track of a time line.

3. You say the same thing in five different places

Redundancy is not always a bad thing. You might want a call to action on as many places a possible. You may want students to find application information in different places. But you should know not just what you’re saying more than once, but why.

4. You don’t have a plan

Parts of your site are more important than others. The home page is usually the most important part – but not always. The important parts need to be monitored the most. Having someone to set that priority – based not on politics but on hard analytic data – is essential.

5. You have too much content

Gerry McGovern said in this video (6:47) “Giving an intranet to a communicator is a bit like giving a pub to an alcoholic. Every day is Christmas.” You need someone who knows when and what to cut. Then, you need to get them the authority to make those cuts.

So, what about logistics? Titles vary: Web content writer, Web content editor, Web content creator, Web marketing manager, Web communications manager – depending the level of their oversight and expertise. And this person can do other things – marketing materials, press releases, intranet articles…but the main focus needs to be Web content. Bob Johnson’s Blog has some great examples of job descriptions. They’re focused on higher ed, but are really applicable anywhere.

I see you, thinking you can just add this duty to any random marketing/communications staffer you have. Not a good idea. I know in this economy adding a new position can seem impossible. And maybe it is – maybe you need to take an existing staffer and switch around his or her duties. A good writer with no Web experience can be taught how to write for the Web – but it needs to be a main priority. This does not fall under “other duties as assigned.”

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One Response to “The easiest way to a great Web site”

  1. Laurie Says:

    Love your blog, Amanda! And I haven’t forgotten about you on LinkedIn. 🙂

    To your post, I might add that an extensive Web site may require more than one high quality Web content writer, who can also weigh in on comprehensive marketing strategies to augment a robust, dynamic Web presence.

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