Wednesday, March 06, 2013

BPN 1628: Why content is so important?

Tomorrow it is Thursday and I will have to do a presentation for the class of second year college students, preparing communication world. The title of the course is Research in Digital Media and tomorrow's subject is content. Preparing for this class I found a nice A4 article on the Facebook of my friend Tommi Pelkonen, who works for Frantic in Helsinki (Finland). His colleague Taina wrote an article on content.

Content and content strategy have been on people’s lips more and more for the past few years. Yet this thing called content is still rather overlooked in many projects. So, what is this content and what does it do?

Well, let’s face it: content is the reason why websites are created. There are no real websites without any content. Simply put, content is everything you have on the website: texts, images, sounds, videos – all of it. If you have a website with a purpose, there must be some content on it. But you probably already knew that, so what’s all the fuss about? Websites have content, so what. Well, the biggest issue isn’t the content per se, but the quality of that content. And boy, we have a lot to do with that.

When creating a website, you obviously need to have a reason for it. Either you want to sell something, let people know about you or your work or tell a good story – there’s always something to share with the world. And bang, there’s your content. But no, it doesn’t end there, because the way you present the content is equally important.

This is where it all begins. It just isn’t enough to create a pretty website and then dump the texts and images there as an afterthought. Imagine you’ve drawn a box on a paper and then try to fit in all you have to say. Having some trouble? Well no, if you only have a word or two in your mind, but most likely that is not the case. For this, there’s an easy solution: just write the text first and then create the box around it. As simple as that!

So, imagine how convenient it would be to have the content first and then create a website around it. No hassle needed. Unfortunately, in reality this still is quite idealistic, as projects tend to have strict deadlines and life just isn’t very simple and someone’s cat just died and so on. But, to make things easier and to create pretty and functional websites, it sure helps to at least think about the content before you start working on anything else and then keep it in mind throughout the whole process, so that there definitely is a place for every piece of information on the site and that there won’t be any empty or otherwise unnecessary pages or blocks.

What’s more, you should really pay attention to the fine details of your content, especially spelling, grammar and that it’s up to date. It may sound like nitpicking, but hey, the bottom line is that it’s the content people are coming to your site for and therefore it would be nice if the content were clear and current. When you think about an ad or a website that has a lot a typos or old info, does it seem professional and reliable? Well, to me at least it does not. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone with this. So, don’t forget to take that extra hour or two and check and double-check your content so that you can be absolutely sure that it’s correct and up to date before publishing it.

In the end, if you just think a little about your content before rushing into things (or, let us professionals do the thinking), you’ll probably save some time in the end – and save everyone’s nerves as well, as you don’t have to panic about how to cram all the content to your nice-looking but impractical website.

Tanina is a copywriter at Frantic. She likes reading romantic novels on the train, the smell of rain (but not the rain itself) and finding pretty things. She also believes that good cake can make any day feel a whole lot better.

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