It’s all very well your website looking nice and sparkly but when it comes to reaching out to visitors with words and content – where the hell should you begin?

That’s the pertinent question put to me by a good friend who knows I glue together the odd WordPress website for the occasional client in Leeds who wants something quick and effective.

Right now, he’s found a pretty theme for his website (look and feel) and (rightly) believes that WordPress is a prime platform for managing his content. But he doesn’t want to get lost in a maze of design and layout at the expense of not communicating well with readers.

Where to begin

We’ve inadvertently stumbled onto the topic of ‘information architecture’ here – the art of structuring your copy (and other digital assets) meaningfully, so it’s easier to find and digest.

So suffice to say, it’s not feasible to teach a whole discipline in one snappy little blog post. Yet the answer to our core question: where do you begin, is much simpler.

Tip: not with you.

Instead, begin with your audience. What are their priorities? Why did they come to your website and what are they looking for?

Audiences vary, so you must either decide who’s top of your list of people you cater for or funnel them off to the requisite part of your website as soon as they land.

Let’s assume you’ve done that.

Now let’s look at what’s the bare minimum of information they need to help them get something done, or convince them to do something, like book, buy or inquire.

More is less

The secret really is to pare your copy back to bare minimum. This might be difficult because I’ve noticed that when people try to write their own content there’s a temptation to throw everything they have their website, just to be safe.

That’s dangerous though, because in most cases people use brochure websites (non-transactional ones at least) simply to make sure you’re kosher, respectable and trustworthy.

First impressions really do count in this context which is why it pays to get them funnelled into the right section and present the essential information and reassurance they’re seeking.

Don’t waste their time with a dull history lesson about accounting ledgers from 1805. Do give them a punchy synopsis of what you stand for and how that affects them, with empathy and sincerity.

Planning is everything

My friend was right to steer the conversation in the direction of planning ahead before you get stuck into the doing part of a task.

Like most things in life, a plan gives you direction, purpose and something to measure your objectives against. Whether that’s design, copywriting or building a new shed. Things just tend to work out better when you have a clear understanding in your head of where you want to end up.