Content: Cut the Crap

Has anyone ever gone to a website, or a park, and said, “This place would be even more awesome if it had way more crap on it.”?

Probably not.

People slog through their online experiences everyday battling cluttered content.  It stands between them and the thing they want to get done.  Tasks are barely completed, with frustration.  Even worse, they may throw their hands up in disgust and go somewhere else.  That somewhere else might be a 1-800 help desk or order center (more expensive than the web). Or, they may go to a competitor (even more expensive).

Content ends up on websites for lots of reasons.

  • Some are noble (This is core to our message on all platforms.)
  • Some are not (Lady Gaga outfit picture widget.)
  • Some are forced (Put this on the online internets. Or else.)

Websites are funny things.  You can fill them with content until they are OVER 23,000 PIXELS LONG.  Just because you can doesn’t mean that your should.

The impulse may be pure.  Serve the people. SUPER-SERVE the people.  Give them everything they ever wanted to know about your product/service.  Show them the Facebook widget.  Give them all of the images of all of the products on the homepage.  The people coming to the site will find what they need that way…right?

This is neither an effective nor sustainable content strategy.

For every piece of content destined for the website, ask these questions:

  • Does this content help to achieve our business aims or support our primary message?
  • Does it really?
  • No, REALLY?

The criteria thereafter will vary from situation to situation.  This sentiment is universal. Here it is, again. In bold.  Does this content help to achieve our business aims or support our primary message?

There is room for secondary content that fills out an experience, or deepens engagement with a brand.  It can make the difference between a dull visit and an experience that creates lifelong devotees.

Secondary content must be vetted, examined, tested, and cautiously implemented.  Keep governance in mind, too.  Will the content ROT (suffer from redundancy, outdated-ness, and triviality)?  While the content may serve a secondary purpose, it requires the same diligence as any other content.

Weigh any potential benefit of the secondary, additive content against the possible cost it may incur:

  • Unintentional dominance of overall site messaging
  • Additional noise and clutter added to the user experience
  • Distraction from business aims and message
  • Resources and attention required to acquire and maintain it

Go ahead.  Take that pooper scooper to your content inventory.  Everyone will be happier in the end with a little less crap around.

[No Pooping! image via Flickr user crowbert (cc: by-nc-sa)]

2 thoughts on “Content: Cut the Crap

  1. Terrific post.

    Much to the chagrin of clever copywriters and esthetically-focused designers, people don’t go to websites to kill time or be entertained.

    People go online to find information and accomplish tasks, notes Ginny Redish in her helpful how-to book, Letting Go of The Words.

    Content creators need to consider the goal of their work and how it helps visitors find stuff and get things done.

    The rest is extraneous.

  2. Thanks for reading, Lorraine!

    You sum it up quite nicely: “Content creators need to consider the goal of their work and how it helps visitors find stuff and get things done.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *