Six Tips for Treating Your Website's Content and Audience with Care

There is a lot you may want to share with your website visitors. But not all of it can, or should, be shared equally. Here are some basic, but critical, tips on web content organization and management.

Don't cram content "above the fold." This is an old term from newspapers, which used to be folded in half, with the banner headline on top. Any story that ran above the fold of the newspaper was considered breaking news. However, websites don't have folds and the screen resolution of today's monitors is much better than it used to be -- they can display an entire page at once. Also, with the wide range of monitors, laptops, tablets and cell phones it's impossible to know where the fold will be for every display. So instead, arrange your content thoughtfully to draw people into your site and guide them through the page. Then let them use the scroll bar as needed.

Don't overpopulate the homepage. Likewise, don't treat your homepage as your only page. It's common for web managers, especially in small or nonprofit organizations, to gradually overbook the homepage as new and “important” content comes in, while the older content never gets removed. That can result in the endlessly scrolling home page. While people are used to some scrolling, they don't expect to navigate three-foot long webpages (as they might have in the early days of the web). Today people get bored quickly, so keep your homepage content fresh, interesting, and short. Provide links and navigation buttons for visitors to reach other content not located on the homepage.

Be consistent with typefaces, fonts and colors. The classic new designer's mistake is to fall in love with fonts and typefaces -- lots of them. But going overboard with multiple typefaces (the style, such as Garamond) and fonts (size and weight) makes it hard on readers. It winds up making a webpage look confusing and unprofessional. Instead, select two fonts, one for titles and one for content text. Usually, one will be a serif typeface (e.g. Caslon) and the other sans serif (Proxima Nova). Also avoid too much bolding, highlighting, underlining, colors, etc. Be bold with your design, but conservative with your font treatments. If you have a professionally designed template you can use, like the included designs in LightCMS, stick to it and avoid going outside its styles.

Update regularly. Once you start a blog, or a news area, or a series of articles -- keep it updated. Nothing says "out of business" like a blog that was updated a year ago or a press release from six months past. If you can't commit to updates, then keep the site simple with just contact information, an overview of your organization's purpose, and other static content.

Use SEO keywords carefully. It is often tempting to get as many keywords into your content as possible, to help it turn up in searches. However, too much repetition of keywords and phrases is a turn-off to would-be consumers who can quickly sense a ploy for hits vs. quality content. So select those four or five keywords that really represent your business. Use them whenever it makes sense, but not multiple times in one short article.

Most of all, know your audience and what content they want to see. Then give it to them in as clear and concise a manner as possible. They'll appreciate it.