Stay Ahead of the Curve: Conducting a Competitive Web Content Analysis

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In order to make informed decisions about your website, you need an understanding of what content you have and whether or not it’s any good. Hello, content audit! But how do you know if your findings are appropriate, if your recommendations will work, and if your new-and-improved content will put you ahead of the competition? Hello, competitive analysis! A competitive analysis of web content is an assessment of competing websites based on your content goals.

In this session, learn how to evaluate what web elements work well for other higher ed institutions, what problems you want to avoid, and how you can innovate. There are many examples of great content in higher ed, but there are likely more examples of poor quality content. A competitive analysis will help you stay on the winning side.

Published in: Education, Technology

Stay Ahead of the Curve: Conducting a Competitive Web Content Analysis

  1. 1. Conducting a Competitive Web Content Analysis Rick Allen @epublishmedia Content Strategy Summit #CSsummit Stay Ahead of the Curve: Conducting a Competitive Web Content Analysis Meet Content Rick Allen @epublishmedia HighEdWeb 2013 #heweb13 #MCS9
  2. 2. Hi, I’m Rick. 2 #heweb13 • @epublishmedia
  3. 3. 3 #heweb13 • @epublishmedia
  4. 4. Why our websites are “blah” Some disturbing photos A little talk about process Lots of examples! (And more photos!) How to be awesome 4 What’s on tap? #heweb13 • @epublishmedia
  5. 5. 5 The problem
  6. 6. 6 outdated
  7. 7. 7 outdated not modern
  8. 8. 8 outdated not modern static, stale
  9. 9. 9 outdated not modern static, stale overwhelming
  10. 10. 10 outdated not modern static, stale overwhelming cluttered
  11. 11. 11 outdated not modern static, stale overwhelming cluttered frustrating
  12. 12. 12 outdated not modern static, stale overwhelming cluttered frustrating unintuitive
  13. 13. 13 outdated not modern static, stale overwhelming cluttered frustrating unintuitive fragmented
  14. 14. 14 outdated not modern static, stale overwhelming cluttered frustrating unintuitive fragmented ordinary
  15. 15. 15 outdated not modern static, stale overwhelming cluttered frustrating unintuitive fragmented ordinary “Meh. It’s not doing any harm.”
  16. 16. “Less blah, more booya!”
  17. 17. blah A word commonly used to describe an emotional state in which the person feels a sense of having no hope; usually during a deep depression. #heweb13 • @epublishmedia Source: Urban Dictionary
  18. 18. booya “Bam!”, “in your face”, and “hell yeah”, all at the same time. #heweb13 • @epublishmedia Source: Urban Dictionary
  19. 19. 19
  20. 20. 20 Less like...
  21. 21. 21 Clarity and Readability Scorecard More like... Low 31% Medium 58% High 11%
  22. 22. 22 Findability Scorecard More like... Low 49% Medium 41% High 10%
  23. 23. 23 Communication Goal Scorecard More like... Low 61% Medium 20% High 18%
  24. 24. Is content findable? 24 Is content accurate? Is content on-brand? Is content useful? Is content usable?
  25. 25. You don’t know your web content until you audit it.
  26. 26. 26 More context, please!
  27. 27. 27 Understanding content solutions #heweb13 • @epublishmedia
  28. 28. http://www.flickr.com/photos/cecphotography/5964949045/ Competitive content analysis
  29. 29. A competitive analysis of web content is an assessment of competing websites based on your content goals.
  30. 30. 30 Benefits of a competitive content analysis #heweb13 • @epublishmedia
  31. 31. Challenge your assumptions
  32. 32. http://www.mtv.co.uk/news/liam-hemsworth/391643-liam-hemsworth-miley-cyrus-elton-john-crush-ellen
  33. 33. Identify content assessment gaps http://www.flickr.com/photos/limaoscarjuliet/3305886294/
  34. 34. Better illustrate content problems http://www.flickr.com/photos/carlos_lorenzo/2822368885/
  35. 35. Keep your finger on the pulse http://www.flickr.com/photos/azugaldia/7457645618/
  36. 36. http://www.flickr.com/photos/azugaldia/7457645618/http://www.flickr.com/photos/25095603@N07/5066850988/ “What? You’re not on SL?!”
  37. 37. http://www.flickr.com/photos/cecphotography/5964949045/ Do it better! http://www.flickr.com/photos/krypto/449521911/
  38. 38. Do better!Do better!
  39. 39. Do better!Do better!
  40. 40. Do better!
  41. 41. 44 How to plan for a competitive content analysis #heweb13 • @epublishmedia
  42. 42. 45 How to plan for a competitive content analysis #heweb13 • @epublishmedia 1. Chose your focus
  43. 43. 46 How to plan for a competitive content analysis #heweb13 • @epublishmedia 1. Chose your focus 2. Define analysis criteria
  44. 44. 47 How to plan for a competitive content analysis #heweb13 • @epublishmedia 1. Chose your focus 2. Define analysis criteria 3. Identify your competition
  45. 45. 48 1. Choose your focus #heweb13 • @epublishmedia Branding & communication Findability & information architecture Readability & usability
  46. 46. 49 2. Define competitive analysis criteria #heweb13 • @epublishmedia Content organization and navigation Site search Labeling and taxonomy On-page content hierarchy User task completion Readability Findabilty Brand messaging Content topics Content types Content delivery channels
  47. 47. 50 What competing organizations have overlapping applications with your institution? What competing websites are successful? Which do a great job with content? What competing organizations have similar visitor demographics as your institution? 3. Identify your competition
  48. 48. Keep your finger on the pulse http://www.flickr.com/photos/riacale/25509892/ What about assessing websites outside of higher ed?
  49. 49. 1. Competitor one 2. Competitor two 3. Competitor three 4. Competitor four 5. Competitor five 6. Competitor six 52 Create a short list of competitors #heweb13 • @epublishmedia
  50. 50. 53 #heweb13 • @epublishmedia 1. Primary navigation 2. On-page content hierarchy 3. Links and labels 4. Site search A sample competitive content analysis criteria (IA focus)
  51. 51. 54 #heweb13 • @epublishmedia
  52. 52. 55 #5
  53. 53. 56 #4
  54. 54. 57 #3
  55. 55. 58 #2
  56. 56. 59 #1
  57. 57. Blah or booya?
  58. 58. 61 Primary Navigation #heweb13 • @epublishmedia Is the site easy to navigate, or would a newcomer get lost? Are the menus consistent and accessible from every page?
  59. 59. 62 Univ. of Iowa Univ. of California Univ. of Illinois West Virginia Univ. Syracuse Univ. Academics Academics About Us Undergraduate Admissions Research Administration Academics Graduate Current Students Arts Admissions Arts & Culture Global Faculty and Staff Athletics Athletics Athletics Current Students Alumni and Friends Health Care Libraries International Faculty Parents and Families Libraries Our Campus Library Staff SU Home Diversity Research Public Engagement Alumni About SU [+9] Research [+2] [+5] Primary Navigation
  60. 60. 63
  61. 61. 64 • Audience-based navigation • No direct links to topical content for external audiences • It’s unclear “Future Students” is not a link Primary Navigation
  62. 62. 65
  63. 63. 66 • Three-tier navigation scheme confuses information hierarchy • “Where should I start?” • Direct links provide easy-access to lower- level topic pages Primary Navigation
  64. 64. 67 On-Page Content Hierarchy #heweb13 • @epublishmedia Does on-page content organization enhance findability and user comprehension or cause confusion?
  65. 65. 68
  66. 66. 69 On-Page Content Hierarchy • Clear, bold headers • Headers help organize and prioritize information • Fuzzy image is not clearly relevant • “Graduate Application Demo” is easily overlooked
  67. 67. 70
  68. 68. 71 On-Page Content Hierarchy • Headers don’t relate to page title • Top content appears irrelevant • Irrelevant images confuse information hierarchy—what information is most important and what will I find here? • Unclear next steps
  69. 69. 72 Labels and Links #heweb13 • @epublishmedia Are labels on section headers and content groupings easy to understand? Are links easy to distinguish from each other? Or, are they ambiguous and uninformative (e.g., "click here")?
  70. 70. 73
  71. 71. 74 Labels and Links • Clear subheads, such as “Ready to Apply?” guide prospective students • Inline links, such as "application instructions," clearly describe the purpose and function of the destination page • Sidebar links, such as “Videos,” lack context and are not clearly relevant
  72. 72. 75
  73. 73. 76 Labels and Links • Headers "Dean," "Quick Links," and "Other Helpful Links" do not describe the purpose and value of content • Confusing labels and location of admissions content • Inline link text such as "PDF Flyer" does not adequately describe the destination page
  74. 74. 77 Site Search #heweb13 • @epublishmedia Is the search engine easy to use? Are search results well organized and easy to understand? Are search results relevant?
  75. 75. 78
  76. 76. 79 Site Search • Irrelevant search results • Duplicate page titles
  77. 77. 80
  78. 78. 81 Site search • Search results are relevant and well- organized • Clear link text and descriptions of destination pages
  79. 79. 82 Another look: Branding and messaging
  80. 80. 83 Less like...
  81. 81. Inviting, human, helpful. 84 More like...
  82. 82. Blah or booya?
  83. 83. 86
  84. 84. 87 It is my pleasure to welcome you to Fordham Law. I invite you to learn about the many accomplishments of the Law School community through this website. You will also find information about the School's groundbreaking centers and institutes, our distinguished faculty, and Fordham Law's distinct approach of teaching law to the next leaders in the legal profession.
  85. 85. 88
  86. 86. 89 As befits the youngest top law school in the nation, UCLA School of Law has always been—and remains—at the forefront of educational innovation. At the heart of our approach to the teaching of law is the recognition that we are first and foremost training legal professionals.
  87. 87. 90
  88. 88. 91 "First principles" matter to me. Whether in the law, in one's faith or in one's personal and professional conduct, the ever-present construct of first principles must guide us in life's many endeavors. It was so for me as a judge. It is so for me as a dean of Pepperdine University School of Law.
  89. 89. 92 Findings and recommendations
  90. 90. 93 http://boagworld.com
  91. 91. 94 Clarity and Readability Scorecard Synthesize... Low 31% Medium 58% High 11%
  92. 92. 95 Competitive Analysis Rankings Website 1 Website 2 Website 3 Website 4 Website 5 Primary Navigation High Medium Medium High Low Secondary Navigation Low Medium High High Low Content Hierarchy Medium Medium Medium Medium Low Labeling and Taxonomy Medium High High Medium Low Site Search Low Low High Medium High
  93. 93. Identify themes 96 #heweb13 • @epublishmedia
  94. 94. 97 content hierarchy
  95. 95. 98 content hierarchy context
  96. 96. 99 content hierarchy context consistency
  97. 97. 100 content hierarchy context consistency readability
  98. 98. 101 content hierarchy context consistency readability findability
  99. 99. 102 content hierarchy context consistency readability findability wayfinding
  100. 100. 103 content hierarchy context consistency readability findability wayfinding jargon
  101. 101. 104 content hierarchy context consistency readability findability wayfinding jargon communication
  102. 102. 105 content hierarchy context consistency readability findability wayfinding jargon communication scannability
  103. 103. 106 content hierarchy context consistency readability findability wayfinding jargon communication scannability content purpose
  104. 104. 107 content hierarchy context consistency readability findability wayfinding jargon communication scannability content purpose voice and tone
  105. 105. Illustrate content problems 108 #heweb13 • @epublishmedia
  106. 106. Voice and ToneVoice and Tone Inviting, HelpfulInviting, Helpful Less like... Our mission is making sure you have access to a quality academic and student experience …
  107. 107. Voice and ToneVoice and Tone Inviting, HelpfulInviting, Helpful Less like... Our mission is making sure you have access to a quality academic and student experience … More like... We're here to help you reach your academic and career goals …
  108. 108. Plan next steps 111 #heweb13 • @epublishmedia
  109. 109. 112 The problem
  110. 110. 113 The problem
  111. 111. 114 The problem The solution
  112. 112. Rick Allen @epublishmedia Thank you! #heweb13 • @epublishmedia

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