Foghorn LeghornDreams fascinate me – how about you? Do you dream in great detail? Do you ever have flying dreams (LOVE them!) Do they ever feature you using a broom handle to stuff Foghorn Leghorn in a pipe, until all that’s visible is his beak, saying “Chris, I say, Chris….”? Okay, that last one wasn’t mine, and I’m still jealous over that.

Last night I had a dream that was fairly dull until this tall, kindly, middle aged guy walks up to me and says, “Really, web pages are about two things – “show me” and “tell me”. Show me (the customer) what I came here for, and tell me where to go next.”

When I woke up, this was all I remembered from the dream. The middle aged guy wasn’t impressive, but what he said was — and is true. These two phrases sum up web page content design in a nutshell. Let’s unpack these concepts here.

Show Me – Paired Page Titles and Content

When your customer searched for a word or phrase, your page showed in their results, appearing as a title and introductory text. It seemed your web page would give them what they needed above all others, so they clicked.

Respect the honor paid by your customer when they clicked on your web page among thousands. Deliver content based on the promise that your page title implies.

Show Me – Concise and Clear Content

Write your page content for a human being (not a search engine). When you write for people, you are rewarded twice. Well written web page content gives your customer what they want and creates beautifully organic search engine friendly content that withstands each new change of search engine algorithms. Concise and clear web page content:

  • Communicates to your target audience
  • Avoids jargon
  • Considers the reader’s level of understanding of the subject matter
  • Presents the information logically
  • Relates back to the main point

Now that you have the “Show Me” part of the equation, time to move onto “Tell Me.”

Tell Me – The Next Logical Step As You See It

Many times the content you provide is the final step for a customer, but more often, it’s a step within a stream of steps to achieve some task. Make your web page’s call to action is a logical next step from your content. For example, a do-it-yourself content page for painting should provide something like a link to a place to buy do-it-yourself materials.

Tell Me – What Choices I Have

Using the do-it-yourself painting page again, give the customer choices. Maybe they’ll see that this task is too much for them – provide a link to a painting service. Or perhaps this is just an intro – link to a expanded content on a particular technique, or a place to buy a book. Keep the choices simple and relevant, and natural set of streams from one source – your content.

They May Call Me A Dreamer

I also have a dream that one day all web pages will deliver on the promise they made on Google’s search results. Yes, it’s a big dream, but you can be a crusader with me by following these simple rules of web page content design. And you will be rewarded with delighted visitors who become customers and will tell others about their good experience. This is meat and potatoes, or web content design in a nutshell, if you will. I dreamt it, you do it.

I’m still looking forward to the night Foggy shows up in my dream.