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User-focused effective content

Content plays a role in every stage of the customer journey. Both consumer and business users expect self-service content more than ever before. In the new self-service economy, the content that performs best for website conversions and within Google is content that is optimized for users.

Consider five aspects of user-focused effective content:

  1. Intent - Clear purpose based on user motivation and objective.
  2. Usability - Format optimized for user device and channel.
  3. Findability - Available where the user is, using their words.
  4. Timeliness - Current information for the moment it is needed.
  5. Efficiency - Quickest answer, consumable without obstacles.

Intent

The first thing to consider when crafting content is your user's intent. In many ways this is most important; even Google's algorithm is adapting to understand searcher intent. 

Intent is about your users and cannot be based on your business objectives. Business objectives often influence content creation for things like lead generation, brand awareness, compliance, thought leadership, increasing sales, or scheduled deliverables such as release notes. While these reasons for creating content are important to your business, it is not why your target user will engage with your content.

To focus on your user's intent, ask "What user motivation does the content address?" or "What can the user do now that they couldn’t before interacting with this content?" Answering these questions on behalf of your users will help you keep their objectives in mind when creating content for them.

Usability

Content usability is all about what the content experience looks like to the user. Consider content versus format:

  • Content - A message delivered to an audience
  • Format - The specific way a message is delivered

Usability is how you consider the best text and/or visual method for the user to consume. For any given message, ask "Is the content optimized for how the user will be accessing it?" Your answers will be dependent on your user's device type and channel. Your content decisions regarding usability should be data-driven choices that are optimized for your user preferences.

Findability

To make content findable to your users, it needs to be easily accessible wherever they are. Certainly Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays an important role, but even Google recommends to make pages primarily for users, not for search engines

To address findability, ask "Is the content findable where and how users are looking?" The effort to make content findable for your users includes writing with user-focused verbiage. Ideally, leverage examples of your user language from product review sites, online communities, or existing feedback channels and incorporate their language into your writing. Self-service experiences often are not triggered by a search, so content must also be embedded throughout the customer journey to be findable.

Timeliness

Prioritize timeliness over polish. Users care more about having the information they need when they need it than if it's presented perfectly. Timely content for users includes keeping important content current and updated, as well as publishing new content via efficient workflows. 

To address timeliness for your users, ask "Is the content available when the user needs it?" Perfection can become the enemy of good, so focus on publishing the most important information as quickly as possible and then iterate or expand later. Proactively flag content that could be impacted by changes over time.

Efficiency

Content efficiency depends on who is accessing your content and how. This is an item that should also be data-driven based on your users. Use data trends over time to determining the right amount of context or details needed to help your users achieve their objectives.

To consider efficiency for your users, ask "Does the content meet the user’s need as quickly and easily as possible?" Important aspects of efficency include both a fast page load time and minimizing obstacles that interfere with your users accessing the information they need. Put content in the flow of where your customer is within their journey.

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