Content
Description:
In this issue we explore content and how it must build the experience you want to share with others. Content creates the environment, connects you to your consumer, changes perceptions and builds a relationship.

Content

Winter 2010

Put Your Content to Work for You

by: Eric Vitiello
q1-2010-Put-Your-Content-to-Work-for-You

Updating content on your website is an effective way to keep visitors coming back. It can sometimes be daunting to continually update your site with new content, but there are more efficient ways that this can be achieved. Websites are simply computer programs for the Internet, and that power can be harnessed to make sure your content stays fresh and new.

There are a few simple ways to use content efficiently on a website. These include using single pieces of information in multiple places, receiving and featuring data from outside sources, timing the release of information, and modifying the user experience based on the visitor profile.

Here are some real-world applications for these creative display techniques that you can use.

  • If you wish to display any sort of data, such as current loan rates, this data can be shown in a variety of ways on your site. When you update the data, many pages on your site can simultaneously be updated as well. You might have a space on your home page to show the current APR for mortgages and then display it on individual pages for each type of mortgage. This data can also be used in an online loan calculator to give the visitor the most current information about the overall cost of a loan.
  • Tapping outside sources to show this kind of data can be even more effective. If, for instance, you display the current price of your stock, market capitalization, etc., all of this information can be retrieved from NASDAQ or NYSE automatically so that you don’t have to update it each day. Instead, the updates can occur at preselected intervals.
  • Maybe you only service mortgages but have a partner or affiliate who processes auto loans. The APR information for their loans could be pulled directly from their website or system to appear on yours without tremendous technical overhead.
  • For added efficiency, consider ways to use content that you may already be processing elsewhere. Press releases, for example, can be added to your website, possibly showing a list of the most current items on your home page or from other sections of your site. You can also provide a listing of all press releases on a separate page, allowing you to simply post them in one place on your site.
  • Establishing a sense of freshness and continued activity for your website is as easy as posting these bits of information on a schedule. If you have a press release that needs to appear at midnight on a certain date, you can mark your content to be published on this schedule, avoiding the need to drink vast amounts of coffee to make sure you’re awake to post it manually. You can time the release of a new product or service in the same way so that all of the pages associated with this release can appear exactly when you want.  For the most part, web design and functionality are pretty intuitive, giving you the opportunity to let the machine do the work for you. Your website knows a substantial amount of information about your visitors, information that can be used to tailor their experiences with your site. The user’s current, general location, the type of computer they are using, and where on your website they have visited is all easy to gather and use. If your website allows your visitors to log in, you may already have more detailed information about them that can be leveraged. Your website can react to any of this information.
  • If a visitor from San Francisco arrives at your website, you can display information about promotions currently running in that city. You could also display local data, such as loan rates or other data specific to their location.
  • This information can also be used to pinpoint problem areas on your site. Looking at the number of pages and what pages a user viewed without submitting a form or completing some type of other conversion method may be an indicator that visitors are not finding what they need. It could be a sign that some tweaking is needed. Similarly, if you know that you are experiencing problems with certain browsers in your online bill-pay system, it may be a good idea to be proactive by alerting site visitors using those browsers of the situation to avoid extra customer service calls.
These examples just scratch the surface of the many ways that heightened functionality on your website can improve its overall performance. So, the next time you’re faced with the daunting task of updating your site’s content, don’t fret. Just consider these techniques, and put your content to work for you.