Whether your business website is so small that you maintain it in your spare time, or so big there is a crew of content editors dedicated to the task, you face the same problem: maintaining content to keep it up to date. It’s easy to say, but hard to do. Here are 4 tips that can help.
1. Ask the people who answer your phones. They probably know your content best.
Why? Because they are the people who have to answer all those queries that begin “I’m on your website and I’m trying to…”. They know where the pressure points and flaws in your content are, because they have to help users deal with them.
If a call centre answers your phones, what analytics can they provide on phone calls about your website? Is it possible to interview call centre staff or even listen to recordings of sample calls (privacy considerations permitting)?
If someone in-house answers your phones, make the time to sit down with them and find out what comes up. Often, the solution to a problem that’s been frustrating users is cheap and simple – but you’ll never make the fix unless you know the problem exists.
2. Do user testing – but make sure you’re testing with the right people.
Getting a selection of actual or potential website users to try to carry out tasks on your site, and observing where they have problems, is a great technique to use. Formal user testing is best, but if you can’t afford it, you can also ask friends to help out – as long as they’re not regular users of the site, and as long as it’s clear what you’re asking them to do. (Then again, you could talk to our team – user testing doesn’t have to be expensive, we can help get key insights with minimum spend).
But be careful who you test with. If the target audience of your site is retirees, you don’t want to test it with high school students – and vice versa. Make sure that you know the range of users you want to test with, and then line up (or even better, get us to line up) representative candidates who fall within that range of users.
Of course, this applies to any kind of usability testing.
3. Create and maintain a content schedule
Updating your website is a job it’s easy to put off till tomorrow – and we all know how seldom tomorrow comes. If you have more than a few pages on your site, a content schedule with page review deadlines is a good way to make yourself keep the site up to date.
Some content management systems automate a content schedule by specifying a review process, and review-by dates, for each piece of content. But it’s pretty easy to set up a manual schedule as well. All you need is a spreadsheet, or even a Word document, with the following:
- Name of page
- Address of page
- Name of page reviewer (and contact details if necessary)
- When the page should next be checked/updated
- Signoff that any updates identified during the last review have been made, or that no updates were needed
You can add all sorts of bells and whistles, but that’s the basics.
The hard part isn’t creating the schedule – it’s maintaining the schedule. That takes discipline, and someone whose job it is to make sure the schedule is followed.
We’re happy to advise on content schedules and start you off with a mock-up.
4. Get someone external to carry out a site review
While a content schedule can help content to be reviewed regularly, it’s always difficult for people within an organisation to see the problems with website content, because those people are familiar with all or part of the content and find it hard to put themselves in a new user’s shoes.
So it makes sense to get someone not connected with your organisation to review your site content. This is often done when a site is redeveloped, but an annual review of site content – either of the whole site, or key pages – is a comparatively small investment which can pay big dividends. You get a perspective from someone who knows about content in general, but isn’t familiar with your particular content – they can spot the problems, and also suggest what to do about them.
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