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10 Ways To Identify If Your Web Content Sucks

All organizations that I talk with confide in me that they wish that their web content was more compelling and useful. They want their content to tell a story and to use data to show that their activists and donors are making a real impact on the ground.

Developing good content is challenging for all organizations. It takes planning and patience, staff resources, research, and a big commitment. But most importantly it requires an internal cultural and communications shift within the organization in terms of how all staff (from the Executive Director on down) thinks about producing good web content that web visitors and your activists and donors actually give a hoot to read or skim.

Former nptechie, Jonathon Colman, who is now a Content Strategist and Information Architect for REI, recently did a great presentation called Why Your Content Sucks.  Colman says “content is not a feature, it’s an experience,” a concept that has also been discussed by Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic. While your organization maybe muddling along dressing up bad content, it doesn't fool anyone, says Colman.  

10 Ways to Identify If Your Web Content Sucks 

Colman asks organizations to think about the following when analyzing the quality of your own web content.

  1. You treat web content as another commodity instead of as a mission-organizational business asset.
  2. You publish as much content as possible instead of curating meaningful content that will resonate with your activists, donors, and other target audiences.
  3. You don’t plan, edit, or schedule your content so you are not relevant or ready for an opportunity or a crisis.
  4. You planned but failed to get content support, instead of building your base.
  5. Your content is useless, unusable, and inconsistent instead of being clear and complete.
  6. You design first, then plug in the content later, instead of designing from the content out.
  7. Your content is dictated based on how your platform works, instead of your content shaping your platform.
  8. Your content lacks structure so it’s neither responsive, adaptive, and can’t be reused.
  9. You don’t use metadata to describe your content so it can’t be found without Google, because your on-site navigation and search don’t work.
  10. You don’t think beyond the page so you’re content isn’t portable to new social and new media platforms.


Does this sound familiar? How do you get a better content strategy?  Check out our follow up post on Frogloop later this week, where we will share some practical tips to get your web content into better shape. And be sure to also check out Colman's presentation below.

Reader Comments (3)

Thanks for posting this, Allyson! It's been a while since I've been involved with the nptech community, but I'm honored that I built a story that has relevance for the issues that you're facing. And I think that the challenges posed by content strategy cut across all presences on the Web, not just businesses.

Who or what are some examples of nonprofits, foundations, or associations who are leading in the Content Strategy space? I'd love to hear more about their successes.
February 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonathon Colman
Jonathan, your presentation was spot on. I particularly loved the slide on "You design first, then plug in the content later, instead of designing from the content out."

Sadly there are very few nonprofits that have a solid content strategy. They are either guilty of publishing content as much as possible with no real strategy behind it, or rarely update their content. I think charity: water (who does so many things right in the digital space) has a pretty good content strategy. They get it and work hard at it. And their staff has been empowered to spend the time and resources to make sure their content tells meaningful stories and shows impact.
February 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAllyson Kapin
I think #3 is so important. Planning makes it so much easier to successfully generate content - instead of rushing to just 'throw something up'. With content marketing becoming more and more of a buzzword, I think it will serve as a opportunity for nonprofits to pull it all together, realize the incredible in-house assets that they already possess, and make the most of social media.

An example of an organization that has already been doing this for years is Everygreen - particularly their Brick Works blog: http://info.evergreen.ca/en/entries/category/ebw
February 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarlene Oliveira

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