Through this guide you will learn how to plan, structure and illustrate your content to help achieve your website objectives. The guide is divided into the following sections.
- Setting website objectives
- An overview of user journeys
- Getting attention
- Building interest
- Creating desire
- Taking action
- The complete user journey
- Designing signposts
- Structuring your sitemap
1. Setting website objectives
Your website objectives are things that can be measured and attributed primarily to the website.
Throughout this guide we will give you real world examples using our client, Phoenix Futures. These are their website objectives.
|1||To increase enquiries and bookings for services|
|2||To increase funding from individual donations|
|3||To increase enquiries from people looking to volunteer|
|4||To increase enquiries from local authorities|
These objectives stem directly from the audience groups and propositions established in the Comms Strategy. In this guide we will look at how to structure the website to best achieve these objectives.
Use the template content strategy document to write down your website objectives in priority order.
This is not as simple as it sounds. Take some time and consult with your team. Make sure these are specific and measurable goals. Make sure you list the things the website needs to (and can) achieve rather than your overall organisational goals.
2. An overview of user journeys
A user journey is a series of clicks, page views or other actions that a user takes on your website.
The user is in charge of their journey and will have freedom to navigate using menus. For this reason, user journey mapping is a tool to help inform your content strategy rather than a prescribed route that must be followed by your users.
The journey is emotional
The journey isn’t just a practical one, it’s often emotional. As a user progresses through your website you want to move them through four stages.
Users may not move through all four stages in a single visit but the principle remains helpful. We will explain these four stages and then walk you through an exercise to design your own user journeys.
3. Getting attention
Getting attention starts off-site, which is where search engine optimisation (SEO) and other promotion tactics come into play. We have another guide titled Learn how to master SEO for charities with lots of practical tips.
One popular strategy for getting attention is content marketing. This means creating interesting and sharable content (eg: blog posts, news stories or tweets) that can be found by search engines and help to drive traffic to your website.
Check out these 7 Tips For Charities - How to Write Better Tweets.
You should have an agreed list of topics that you write about and a list of the keywords you will include in your writing to ensure you show up in the most relevant searches.
Example topics and keywords
These are the topics and keywords that Phoenix Futures could use.
|Drug addiction||Treatment methods|
|Addiction recovery||Community and volunteering|
|Prison and community services||Transformation|
|Nature, sport and arts||Renewal|
4. Building interest
Your topics and keywords help drive traffic to your site, but attention spans online are notoriously short. You need to offer bite size snippets of content that hook people in to pique their interest. There are no shortcuts here. You need to know what your audience groups are looking for, and give it to them.
The first page a user encounters when visiting your website is known as a landing page. If the user comes directly to your website this will normally be your homepage.
If they find your website through search engines or follow a link from another website they may land on a blog post or news story so it’s important to consider these as landing pages too. Landing pages need to pique interest and encourage users to continue their journey.
Example landing page components
Phoenix Futures have four main homepage components that contribute to building interest and they are placed in priority order.
|Banner||A positive and inspiring image of people with an accompanying message showing recovery is possible.|
|Reach||A brief summary of the extent of our reach across the UK with a link to find out more about our services.|
|News||A curated view of the latest and most interesting news stories.|
|Opportunities||Selected volunteering opportunities.|
Example key pages
Current content like news stories may get lots of pageviews for a while but will eventually decline as they go out of date. Other pages such as About Us or Support Us will always get a lot of visitors and need to be interesting. These examples show how to plan content for key pages.
|About us||A short summary of the organisation’s story and impact with illustrations and images, leading on to an overview of services.|
|Our services map||Instant view of services all over the country, minimal text, continue the journey through to local services.|
|Case studies||Headlines and featured images of a handful of impactful case studies and testimonials from beneficiaries and volunteers.|
|Work with us||Demonstration of our skill and experience and the results that have been achieved. Lead to the different ways to work with us.|
5. Creating desire
Shifting from interest to desire is a crucial step in achieving your objectives. If you only succeed in interesting people they will leave with a little knowledge but nothing more.
Rewards, peer pressure, social proof or ‘the feel good factor’ are all valid tactics for encouraging someone to do something. Without exception though, they all rely on people wanting to act. Even if only to avoid something worse such as social embarrassment or guilt.
You may be able to satisfy your users needs with simple facts and systems, but so can someone else. You need to understand and appeal to their desires in order for them to want to engage with you.
Think about what it is that your key audience groups want. Here are some examples for Phoenix Futures.
|Service users||Want to get help, talk to a person, remain anonymous, reconnect with their family and fix relationships.|
|Individual donors||Want to be asked for their help, know their money is being well used, make a difference, be thanked or even celebrated.|
|Volunteers||Want to make a difference, be part of a community, feel needed, give time rather than money, make friends.|
|Commissioners||Want reassurance that you’re professional, experienced and reliable, to deliver successful stats to their superiors, to manage risk carefully.|
Build desire with images and graphics
Visuals are a key part of appealing to people’s desires. People are much more likely to desire what you’re offering if they can emotionally associate it with a positive image. Here are some examples of visuals that might help fulfil the above desires.
|Need help page||A photo of a friendly customer service advisor. A real looking person, not a corporate in an office with a headset. Photos of reconnected families, dads playing with children.|
|Donate page||A dynamic and lively image of a group of recovering service users on retreat. A sense of community, togetherness and warmth. Ideally outside with natural surroundings.
Icons representing what can be achieved with different value donations.
|Volunteer testimonials||Lots of photos of volunteers together with service users. Photos of volunteers in action. Icons of speech marks clearly denoting the active voice.|
|Services overview||A graphic icon representing our 40 year history to demonstrate experience and reliability.
A headshot photo of a local governor to accompany a quote about the quality of our services.
A diagram showing the simplicity and speed of our 5 step setup program.
6. Taking action
Once the user is at the point of taking action all other distractions should be removed and the next steps made clear. If the steps are confusing or long winded people may exit prematurely.
Here are some examples of effective methods for actions.
|Call to get help||Simply a phone number on the page. Make it large and obvious and accompanied by a positive image.|
|Donate||One simple field for the user to enter an amount and a streamlined on-site checkout process. Offer more information about how money is spent after the checkout process is complete.|
|Volunteer||A link out to our recruitment portal. Make sure the link opens in a new tab and that the destination is branded properly for reassurance.|
|Commission us||A Profile Photo, Name, Title, Email address and Phone Number of the representative that commissioners can contact.|
Make sure you understand the technical infrastructure required such as webforms or payment gateways and don’t allow any part of the process to offer a weak link.
Make sure you have a way of measuring if these actions are being taken. The best way to do this is to build some goals and custom reports in Google Analytics. We have another guide to walk you through the process of Creating a Google Analytics Measurement Plan. Don’t get distracted though, it's a long one and will require a lot of focus ;-)
7. The complete user journey
We’ve been through the four stages of a good user journey. Here are some examples of complete user journeys to take inspiration from. To recap:
Attention = Keywords and topics improving your SEO
Interest = Landing page bite size content, posts and stories
Desire = Deeper content and visuals creating emotional engagement
Action = Conversions such as sign ups, donations or social shares
Example user journey
|Audience group||Service user (beneficiary)|
|Keywords||Addiction, Rehabilitation, Recovery, Detox|
|Landing page||Homepage with reassuring summary of what we do|
|Deeper content||Case studies of recovery, with real testimonials and photos|
|Action||Call our helpline to talk to someone (published phone number)|
Example user journey
|Audience group||Prospective volunteer|
|Keywords||Community service, arts, sport, voyage of recovery|
|Landing page||News story demonstrating partnership and community|
|Deeper content||Testimonials from current volunteers and open opportunities|
|Action||Register as a volunteer (web form)|
Write down the main actions that you want your users to take on your website. Any user journeys that you plan should then lead to these actions. Remember to consider these steps.
- Which audience group is this action relevant for?
- What keywords will they be searching for?
- What landing page content will get their interest?
- What deeper content will build their desire to get involved?
- What final action do I want them to take?
8. Designing signposts
Signposts are designed to guide the user to the next step in the journey you want them to take. Ideally, you will know what a user might want to do next from any given point. You can then strategically place a signpost in just the right spot.
Here are some examples of good signpost tactics.
|Need help?||Our friendly team can speak with you in full confidentiality.||Speak to someone now|
|Can you help us?||We need donations to start new local drug addiction recovery services.||Donate now|
|Looking to volunteer?||Read testimonials from our great volunteer team that you can be a part of.||Read testimonials|
|Need services in your area?||See how we run our services and establish a fully managed program in just 2 months.||Services overview|
Design the text for your own signposts using the above format.
You can create signposts to bridge any two journey stages but they’re often best used for moving people from desire to action.
You don’t need to use questions in the title but make sure that the button text is descriptive of the page they are going to next.
You don’t need to include a description if you don’t want to but the less text you have the more careful you need to be with the words you use to avoid misinterpretation.
You can create multiple signposts pointing to the same page using different terms. Donate, give and support can all point to the same place but might catch different people’s attention.
9. Structuring your sitemap
Thoughtfully crafted user journeys should always be backed up by a well designed sitemap.
The site map is a logical, hierarchical structure of all the pages on your website. Users will be able to navigate through all your pages in whatever order they choose using the menus. Keep your sitemap logical and rely on signposts to make connections between different sections.
The user journeys you have mapped out will indicate what the most important pages are. This means you can structure your sitemap around them and place less important links in lower priority menus. Here’s an example site map for Phoenix Futures.
|Individual services will have application form embedded|
Case studies overview
Stories from service users and volunteers will be combined
Signposts will lead to our services
|News and views||A block will appear on each news story to subscribe to the newsletter|
About us overview
|Signposts will lead out to volunteering and commissioning|
Work with us overview
|Donate||Highlight in a different colour|
|Get help||Highlight in a different colour|
The final exercise is to draft your sitemap. The content strategy template (download) contains a draft sitemap to get you started, which you can customise to your needs.
Your website doesn’t need to include everything about your organisation. If it doesn’t support the user journeys you’ve drafted, question if it really needs to be included.
Your website will be much easier to use if you keep the hierarchy shallow. Two levels is ideal, three is ok but as you increase depth you increase complexity for the user. A simple website, where a user can explore all the main sections in just a couple of minutes, is often more enjoyable to use.
Once you’ve worked through this guide and filled in the accompanying template, check out our guide on Charity content writing to help you tighten up your copy and text formatting for best results.