Making goodLaura Robertson, October 2016
You can’t achieve much if you don’t have compelling, high-quality content. But what makes content good? This is not an exhaustive list, but these things will certainly help.
1. Answers users’ needs
Responding to real needs of real people is important. Gov.uk is an excellent example of a website that has been reimagined around needs.
2. Is adaptable
The explosion of channels and an ever-increasing spread of devices means that content has to work across media and platforms. As Sara Wachter-Boettcher says: “we need content that can go more places, more easily.”
3. Piques people’s interest
People have billions of other web pages they could be reading. They often have little time. Content needs to convince the user of its worth quickly and hold their attention.
4. Is rich in media
Words are important, but other elements can really bring content to life. Images, visualisations, animations and video can all make content effective and engaging.
5. Is sustainably tended
Out of date, orphaned content does nobody any favours. Content needs loving care and maintenance throughout its life-cycle to keep it relevant.
6. Is smoothly and efficiently created
Content by committee results in the lowest common denominator. Endless sign-offs prevent agility. However, content should be edited to ensure quality. Good processes result in good content.
7. Is consistent, coherent and intelligible
Inconsistent content discombobulates the user. If content is hard work, people will become frustrated, and leave. Good content uses plain language, making it easy to understand. Good content is not overly technical and does not require lots of prior knowledge. The Hemingway App helps highlight possible issues.
8. Is accessible
People consume content in various ways; don’t assume everyone else is the same as you.
9. Is readable and well designed
Good typography makes reading easier. Images, white space, use of colour and great photography all help make content digestible and enjoyable.
10. Is findable
People won’t work to find your content. SEO is no longer about metadata; to get ranked highly by search engines you need quality content that is well structured, that uses keywords strategically, without obstructing the user. You need others to link to you; to be a reputable source: that will come from all of the above.
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