Fighting Content Creep
Sure, it *can* be added, but *should* it?
So maybe you’re sitting there, and you feel like the Lord has given you a lot of vision for your ministry and you want the world to know all that is possible with your ministry. You’re editing the content of your website, full of dreams, and you start thinking about all the things you CAN add to your website.
But before you start adding, stop to ask yourself, “SHOULD I add this?” Or, better yet, ask, “WHY should I add this?”
By asking this one simple question, you switch your perspective from “What do I want to tell people?” to “What do my people need to hear?” Once you can ask the second question, you move from mere self-expression into the communicative challenge of helping others with what you publish.
The Root of Content Creep
So often, the problem of content creep — having too much information on your web pages or your top-line site navigation — comes from the simple problem of not having a plan.
What do we say ‘no’ to? What do we say ‘yes’ to? When we say yes, where does it go so people can most easily find it? It is erroneous to believe that once you’ve put it on your homepage everyone will see it.
If you have children, you’ll understand the simple reality that if you say ‘yes’ to them all the time, very quickly things get crazy in your house. Your children need boundaries, guidelines, and parental wisdom to discern the best path forward.
Content creep comes from the same place — you can do that (add the extra page, put the additional button/section/graphic on the homepage), but should you? What’s the result of haphazardly adding things?
The Fruit of Content Creep
In a word: confusion. When content is added without a clear, site-wide strategy, you’re leading people to confusion, frustration, and ultimately giving up on your website.
Have you ever had someone at your church/school/non-profit tell you, “I don’t use the website to get the information I need. I just get what I need to know from _________ (the bulletin, social media, email, friends).”
If so, your website either a) didn’t have relevant content for your members, or b) led them on a confusing user journey.
Fight the Creep: Craft User Journeys
After you understand the story you’re trying to tell online, so that people can clearly understand the personality and values of your faith community, then you can think through how you want your users to interact with that story. What part should they play? How do they progress from merely interested into being fully invested?
One straight-forward approach is to think through the users on your website in terms of their level of interest and involvement with your organization.
- For churches, think through visitors, attendees (those who come infrequently), and members (owners in your church family).
- For non-profits, think through prospective donors, volunteers, and regular active donors.
- For schools, think through prospective parents (shoppers), interested parents (ready to enroll their student), and current parents.
Each one of these user groups will have specific content needs. From the moment they hit your homepage, give them hooks leading them in 2-3 clicks to where they need to go so they can take the next step on their journey of commitment. Give them something tangible to do — register for an event, fill out an interest form, email a group leader, sign up for a school tour, give online.
Clear the Creep: Ruthlessly Eliminate Excess
Now that you have a vision for where you want your users to go, trim off everything else. The other things are distractions that will take them on rabbit trails and away from furthering their engagement with your organization.
And don’t forget, just because it isn’t on your top-line navigation, that doesn’t mean that the page needs to go away. Simply hide that page from the navigation and make it something that users find when they need it (again, plan for that part of their journey).
What about your homepage? Chose priority content that each audience group will need, then put only that on your homepage so that their feet get on the path of their user journey right away.
With a solid plan in place, the next time someone else comes along and says, “Why don’t we add xyz to the homepage?!” You can look at your user journeys and say, “We can put it on the website, and people will be able to find it here along their way to engaging with our faith community.”
Ready to Communicate Clearly?
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