Your website exists to tell your hospital’s story, educate visitors and engage them in reaching their goals. We all have content on our sites, but not all content is created equal. I think of good content like good landscaping –all of the pieces need to work together to create a pleasant experience.
Here are a few things to think about to create better site content:
- Write for the Web – Web users don’t read pages – they skim. As a result good Web writing uses a format that allows visitors to skim the pages with a high degree of understanding and recall. Important information should live at the top of the page and paragraphs should start with the conclusions (the inverted pyramid writing style). When repurposing content from a magazine, newsletter or brochure, be sure to remove excess words to distill the information to its essence.
- Write for your audience(s) – Understand who will be reading the page and author the content to match. It’s nearly impossible to write disease content for both physicians and Joe Consumer as their information needs are far apart. This is one of the biggest challenges in distributing authoring. Different contributors write for different audiences, resulting in content that doesn’t work where it’s placed.
- Write for the search engines – Your primary audience should always be the person you expect to read the information. To serve that audience well, however, the content should be findable. Content should be divided into individual pages focused on the keywords consumers will use to search for the information. Use consumer-friendly terms and acronyms for long, often unpronounceable clinical terms.
- Every page has a purpose – It’s important to understand how and why someone visits your page, who the visitors is, what they need from your page at that moment, and what action you want them to take next. Answering these questions will not only create better content, but also leads to better calls to action, which is the key to visitor engagement and service line growth.
- Services are not conditions or locations – Let’s say you have a cancer center and at that center, you diagnose and treat cancer conditions. The location isn’t a condition or service. When a site visitor clicks “what is cancer” in your services directory, they shouldn’t get the cancer center location information, or vice versa. It’s confusing and frustrating to visitors when they don’t get the information they expect. Health system websites should have all three types of content – services, conditions, and locations — interconnected appropriately.
Most importantly, effective content starts with a strategy. Start by determining the content you should have, how to organize it and how to author it in a way that is both consistent and effective. With today’s tight budgets, lots of organizations only want to invest in production and are short changing preparation.
Think about this just like landscaping. You can drop plants any place, but without a landscaping plan, the trees grow and shade out the flowers, collide with one another and scrape against the building. Website content evolves the same way. A good plan ensures your site grows and evolves, and all of the pieces work together to create great experiences.