It is not enough to have great content. To get the type of engagement that drives sites to sustainable growth and builds audience loyalty, the user experience must be had by a site’s visitors.
This occurs through storytelling, detailed and interactive walk-throughs, and by providing a product or service that makes users believe their lives are being made better and easier by using it.
Make no mistake; outstanding content is an absolute must. Without it, sites will fail to earn links and the crucial word of mouth recommendations that lead to true sustainability.
It is important to understand what great content and a great experience are, and how they lead to better engagement.
I did a lot of analyses on multiple different platforms and scenarios, throughout engagements with clients that come to my web design shop, so I’ll try to outline my discoveries bellow.
The Hallmarks Of Great Content
The majority of Internet users scan pages when they land on them. If they do not get “hooked” quickly, they are likely to move along to other things.
The hallmarks of outstanding content can often be broken down as:
- A compelling headline
- A brief summary of what the content will deliver
- Grammatically correct content
- Easily scanned content with proper line spacing, font sizes and background to text context that is easy on the eyes
- A great story
Compelling headlines, brief summaries, proper grammar, and proper line spacing, font sizes, and contrasts are all easy to understand. The great story part is what tends to cause people some problems.
A great story may be just that, a story detailing an experience. It may also explain a process in easy to understand terms, or it may even show visitors the best and easiest way to find a product they need.
Stories on the Internet can be told in a number of different forms. What could be a terrible approach for one type of site could be perfect for another. Context is everything when determining whether a story will succeed or fall flat.
What Are Great Stories?
Two examples of fantastic storytelling are “pillar content” and service or product sites that compel visitors to stay on-site, comment, opt-in to email newsletters, make purchases and share with their friends and online social channels.
Pillar content are often “how-to” guides that go into great detail on how to accomplish a task of some sort. These posts connect with users by addressing a serious need they have and then telling them the best way to take care of it.
A great example of a digital product site, that most of us are familiar with, would be MailChimp. MailChimp is a popular email marketing and list management provider. Most list management providers are difficult to navigate and set up properly. MailChimp makes it easy by first providing a free database up to 2,000 users.
Next, once a user is on the back-end of the site, there are arrows that show users what step to take, which button or link to click on, and then guides them into what they need to do.
The graphics are appealing and the site goes from intimidating to far more enjoyable user experience. As we all know usability matters. Their website tells a story through informative and engaging content. While MailChimp has its issues, as all products and services do, it finds a way to connect with users and encourages them to use the service and to avoid using their competitors’ services.
Content + Stories = Experiences
When a site has great content, like the points mentioned above, as well as a compelling sales copy, it creates an experience they will not forget. Instead of throwing a user into the deep end, it brings them in and makes them feel confident and welcome.
Great user experience cannot be had without great content. If the user remains the focus the entire time, the experience will be there.
When Users Have A Great Experience They Will Engage
The great thing about creating great content with an eye on the user experience, people will feel compelled to engage.
Engagement is what entrenches a business in the psyche of an audience and ensures ongoing success, but only if this focus is unwavering and never shifts to less important things.