Types of content: Sell, Persuade, Reassure
Despite the variety in content formats that exist on the web, what stands out is that the purpose for which they are used never really changes.
That is, although two sites with a similar objective may use different formats to fulfil their goal - the intention is always the same: to convince visitors to use the site, to make a sale and (often) to provide after-sales services.
In this way, website content can typically be classed into one of three types.
1. Content that 'Persuades'
This is content that attracts people to a website by providing a basic introduction to what it is about. The aim is to familiarise people with a topic in a trustworthy and non-threatening way. For example, a website about Human Rights could include:
- News and updates.
- Interviews with campaign members.
- A moderated discussion forum.
- Downloadable screensavers.
2. Content that 'Sells'
'Sell' content focuses on the core objective of a website. Sites that use such content well frequently have a clear call-to-action that entices visitors to do something. For example, a retail site might display compelling images of a new range of clothes beside a prominent link that says "Buy These Now". In contrast, the 'Sell' content on a site for Human Rights a could comprise a passionate message that prompts visitors to complete an online membership form.
3. Content that 'Reassures'
This content is used to encourage people to maintain an active interest in a website. It also seeks to 'comfort' visitors by making them feel they have done the right thing by trusting you. Good after-sales services like this contribute to a sense of being 'cared for' somehow. This itself can be used to entice other people to get aboard via 'word of web' recommendations . Examples of such features commonly include:
- A members' area that contains extra content, e.g. private discussion forum.
- A help and support area.
- A members' newsletter.
The task for any website development team is to identify the content formats they believe best suits the goals of their own site.
Further information about different types of website content is provided in 'The Website Manager's Handbook', now on sale.
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