Wednesday, September 5, 2007



Finding Content for Web Pages

You may be trying to improve or add more content to your site. But as most writers will tell you, coming up with what to write about is often the most difficult part.

Common Themes to Write About Some common themes for Web site content are:
Personal Introspection Sites that are personal, but have things like weblogs and other personal insights will change often enough to bring readers back and are easy to write
Consumer Commentary These sites are usually built by someone who is upset with a company. However, they allow for community building and shared experiences as people tell what happened to them in relation to the company discussed.

Ecommerce If you have something to sell, the Web is a great place to sell it.
Topic related articles If you are good at something, you can write articles about it, and as long as you are consistent about posting new material, you will keep your readers coming back. There are as many different types of Web page as there are Web pages out there.

Brainstorming Content Ideas But say you have your subject matter decided upon, how do you come up with the idea for this week's article? A great way to come up with new ideas is to do a storyboard brainstorming session. When you are finished with the following brainstorming session, you should have ideas for many different Web pages.
How to storyboard Equipment A large piece of cardboard or other large expanse of free space that can be left cluttered for a while (I tend to use a door, as there is usually nothing on it, and it's flat Sticky note paper like Post-It® Notes (if you're using your wall or a door, make sure that the note paper won't stain the surface) A dark pen

Step away from the computer This may seem silly when everything on the Web is done with a computer, but if you move away from it for a while, you can get your creative juices flowing and not be worried about your idea as a Web page.

Get out the sticky paper and start writing Web page ideas, themes, notes on them. Write anything you think of - the wackier the better! Write only one idea or note per piece of paper. As you write them, stick them to your cardboard or wall. Don't worry about placement for now, just get as many ideas as you can onto the board.

Once you have run out of paper, start organizing the notes on the board. There is no secret to how to organize them. You can choose to divide them by theme, by relevance, by hierarchy, whatever. When I'm designing a Web site I like to divide the ideas into a quasi-structure for the site e.g. ideas for the first page go at the top, and pages that link from there are in the second level, and so on down.

Once you have the slips of paper in an order that pleases you, walk away for at least an hour, and if you can, a whole day. Give your brain a rest from the work of idea generation and organization. Think about something else, take a walk, watch your favorite TV show, get away from the site. When you come back, chances are you'll have some new ideas for more notes, and the organizational structure might change.

After getting your new ideas down, spend some time getting the structure and ideas written in a more permanent fashion. I like to get one idea written down and then try to rearrange the notes into a new format and write that down too. Once I have three possible structures (or more), I'm content to start working on my site.

Important Notes for Brainstorming Content Ideas
Let yourself go. Don't be afraid to write anything down. If it's still stupid after you've taken a break, you can crumple the paper, but for the moment, just get it down.
Don't give up too quickly. Often, if the ideas just don't seem to be coming, you're probably trying too hard. When you're ready to stop, ask yourself if there aren't 5 more things that you can think of that would enhance or clarify what you've already written. e.g. If you wrote down "Colored backgrounds" on one note, try to find 5 improvements on that: "all green", "only Web palette", "background image", "themed colors for different pages", and "colors match my logo".


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