Who provides content for a brand new website & what content should they provide?

Website content photo

Over the years, working with clients in the website design and development realm, I have come across these two questions plenty of times. It is surprising how many clients have no clue about what content is needed in a website – even tech firm clients, let alone the fact that they are the ones who should be providing the content.

Many clients get frustrated when you ask them to provide content that you will use to build them a website. Some will innocently respond: “I thought it is your job to make me a website?”; while others will be so put-off that they will leave in a huff never to return. However, as daunting as the thought of coming up with everything your site needs may seem, there is a simple remedy that will get you focused and ready to tackle web content by the horns.

But before we get to the solution, let’s first dispell some myths:

Myth 1: The website designer comes up with your content
Sorry to burst your bubble, but you – as the client – are solely responsible for the content that will go up on your website. You will prepare the content that you would like your website team to include on your website.

Myth 2: The website designer is a great Englishman who will come up with your text and make it amazing
Unfortunately, most website designers don’t even speak English (hahah!), so don’t let them convince you that they do. A copywriter is the person you should be looking for. I know, most people don’t know who that is, they probably think he has something to do with protecting stuff on your site, but no, it’s the person who prepares the text that will go onto your website and makes it sexy and memorable.

Now that we know it is you – the client – who will prepare the bulk of the content, let’s find out just what content you should consider for inclusion in your website. We’ll solve this great mystery by asking ourselves a few questions.

1. Who are you?
As the client, you will need to provide information about your firm, such as: what is the name of your company? When was it founded and why? You will include your mission statement, a small history about your firm, its vision and everything else that will help the visitor connect with your firm. Remember, the visitor doesn’t know your firm! Tell them about ‘yourself’.

2. What products / services do you offer?
Describe these in detail. List each product or service and describe it in a way that does not make any assumptions. It may be obvious to you that your firm provides the most state-of-the-art cameras, but your website visitor has no clue and it may be exactly what they were searching for. Don’t give scanty one-liners, tell it like it is. If in doubt, present them with as much information as you can.

3. What is your competitive edge?
As a client, I want to know why I should take up this service or product from you. Tell me why you are better than the competition. What has set you apart?  Your visitors / potential clients want to know what that competitive edge is. Whether it is amazing customer support, a product with an extra-long warranty, or fast service, let them know what they will get when they sign up for your service or purchase that product that you believe nobody else offers in the market.

4. Do you have testimonials and portfolios?
Have you sold you product or service before? If so, to whom? A harsh business lesson that one must learn is that referrals sell. Provide a:
i. List of satisfied clients and or testimonials. People enjoy familiarity, tell them people they might know or institutions in their industry that have sampled your product or service and what they had to say about it. Chances are high this will convince them to buy from you if they need your product or service.
ii. List of previous projects you have undertaken with supporting multimedia and client contacts (if possible). This helps to prove your capability.

6. What more might the potential client need to know?
As a client I may have some questions to ask before I make that final decision to call you up and procure your products / services. This is what the FAQ (frequently asked questions) section is all about. As the owner of the website, the onus is on you to understand your industry well enough to answer those questions that a large majority of your potential clients will have. List them and provide their answers.

7. How can you be reached?
So now I’m interested, how do I get in touch with you? Unless you have no intention of being found, it is vital that you provide a list of your contacts to help potential clients to reach you from postal addresses, physical addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, social media profiles (if you don’t have these, ensure you create them) and pages, etc.

8. Do you have any news or articles that your clients would be interested in reading or knowing about?
Your clients would like to find our whenever there are new products or service offerings.

Email newsletters will provide content that will be sent to clients who sign up in order to be kept up-to-date with the proceedings in your firm/industry. Your newsletter content will contain: industry rules, questions customers ask (get these from your customer support team), solutions to common challenges when using your products or services, lists of the most interesting personalities, ongoings or items in your industry, fun facts and calendar events in your industry or firm. Feel free to add anything more your clients will find interesting here.

Unlike the other content items we have covered hitherto, the email newsletter content should be constantly fresh. As a simple guideline, provide a minimum of 3 articles for inclusion in your brand new website.

9. Do you have any multimedia (video, audio or images)?
It is prudent to gather videos, audio and or pictures that communicate your message clearly for sharing with your online audience. These would include product or service overviews, promotional videos or advertisements and the like.

10. Is there any ‘stuff’ your visitors to download from your website?
Depending on your industry, your website may contain downloadable content be it application forms, portfolio documents, brochures, service request forms, school admission requirements, free items etc. If you are in such an industry, gather these items and include them in your content list.

We’re done for now
Next time you think of launching a new website, I hope you’ll find the above information useful as a guideline so that your website designer/developer can easily get to making that awesome site for you. So we have all the content it’s now time for your designer/developer and copywriter to get to work. Hurray!

Enjoy your day and say goodbye to lack of content.