Building your new website can be a daunting experience – and it’s all too easy to lose sight of the plan you started with. It’s important to create a usable, creative brief which can effectively direct your content choices. Here are the key questions to answer before you get started. By answering these, you’ll be able to put together a solid content brief which is flexible and easily understandable to a large group of content creators.
1. Who is my target audience?
Most site owners have a good idea of who they’re selling to. But it pays to research this thoroughly before you write an entire website around a target group. It’s better to be certain than rely on guesswork. Another thing to keep in mind is if you have multiple target audiences – ask: which parts of the website are appealing to each one? Try and divide up the site into target group areas – otherwise you risk writing for too broad a group and diluting your message.
2. What are the objectives of our website?
After you’ve established your target audience, you need to ask what you’re hoping to achieve. Do you want your customers to buy a product? Do you want them to sign up for something? Are you trying to impart specialist knowledge? In any case, you need to establish your typical user journey and give each page on your website a purpose and call to action – ideally one you can benchmark and measure.
3. What is our tone of voice?
A tone of voice that is understood across your content team is incredibly useful. It makes the writing of your site that much easier. It’s worthwhile to spend time working out how you want to communicate with your readers – or take a workshop that shows how a tone of voice should work. Remember that a good tone of voice flexes depending on when it’s being used – so don’t feel obliged to write zany functional messages when simpler ones would be more useful to your reader and appropriate to your brand.
4. What’s our USP (unique sales proposition)?
Your site ought to have something that none of your competitors does. Think about what that is and emphasise it in your content. By giving your readers unique and interesting content, you are achieving 2 things: firstly, you’re providing quality content that will bring them back. Secondly, you’re boosting your search engine rankings – one of the key ways Google rates pages is by how useful they are and whether they offer something unique to readers.
5. Do we have an editorial calendar?
It pays to have foresight when creating your website. So ask yourself what you plan to do with it – plan for the next year or maybe even longer. Are there special times in the year for your company? For instance, if you’re a flower company, your website ought to have content prepared for Valentines’ Day. Think about content for different channels too (social, web and email). How will they differ and how can they support each to deliver your message?