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This page will summarize key points from the [web content creation guide] and show them in use by utilizing various style elements to illustrate the best practices from that document. Additionally, you will want to visit the [web content style guide] for a comprehensive listing of the various style elements at your disposal when creating your web pages.
There are two important goals to take into account when building web pages and sites - the goals of the users and your goals as a web content producer. (Just a quick aside - doesn’t this paragraph text look nice? That’s what you’ll see when you create your pages!) Understanding the goals of the user and finding ways to align them with your goals is key to a successful website.
People who come to your website come for a very specific reason. It may be to learn more, to buy, to inquire or any number of things. When they get to your site, they are going to look for that “one thing” right away and, if they don’t find it quickly, they will move on. So they skim.
That’s right, people don’t really “read” on the web. They jump around. They skim. They breeze over large chunks of text in an effort to find the information they want. So you need to give it to them in a way that captures their attention and delivers on their desires.
The best thing you can do to encourage people to stay on your page is to provide useful information that they want and present it in a way that aligns with how they use the web. In just a bit, we’ll cover a few techniques to help make your content stand out and catch the attention of skimmers, but just remember the it’s unlikely that people are reading every word.
While you need to keep your visitors’ goals at the forefront, it’s also important that you understand your goals for the site. What do you want people to do as a result of visiting the site? There are any number of things that can be valid desired outcomes, so it’s something you will have to decide for each piece of content, but here are just a few ideas.
The possiblities are endless, but there are two important considerations when thinking about your goals for the page and site. First, it needs to be clear in your mind and the mind of people responsible for the content. If you can’t decide on the desired outcome for the page, the visitor won’t be able to either. Secondly, it must be obvious. Visitors must be able to easily understand what you want them to do on that page. Whether they actually do it is another question, but it needs to be a conscious choice on their part - not just something they didn’t happen to notice.
Remember when we said people don’t actually “read” online? That may have led you to wonder how you could get your message across to people who are just skimming over your web page.
Here are a few ways to help the “skimmers” on your site find what they’re looking for:
Another option is to use a Blockquote to call out important information. This will catch the eye of skimmers and help get across your most important points.
You can even create specific areas of broken up content by using “horizontal rules” like these.
There are a number of ways to make your important content stand out using these various style options. Experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. (Just don’t use them all at once! That can get a little confusing)
When creating content for the web, remember these key elements to create the best opportunity for success.
1. Understand who your visitors are and what they want / need when coming to your website.
2. Give the visitor the best information possible in the most easily-digested format.
3. Make sure that each page has only one (or at most two) actions for the visitor to take and it’s obvious how to do so.
4. Ultimately, create value for the visitor. This will keep them engaged and interested and show that you value their time and attention.