How to Plan Your Entire Website with a Content Map

How do you create strong, meaningful, powerful content that sells, converts and engages your customers? The secret lies in creating a fool-proof content strategy that works for each and every website right from a small business to a large corporate site. In creating a content strategy for your website, essential tasks such as keyword research, content gap analysis, site maps and content audits take a back-seat to the creation of a content map, a simple diagram that places key pieces of info at your finger tips.

A content map is an invaluable tool that assists content strategists and it’s elements are the building blocks for your entire website right from content to design to development and marketing.

I like to use the content map that Joe Pulizzi and Kristina Halvorson used on slide 42 of their slideshare presentation – Web Content Strategy – How to Plan for, Create and Publish Online Content for Maximum ROI

Here is a quick look at that slide:

Content Map diagram from Joe Pulizzi and Kristina Halvorson’s SlideShare presentation

I like to approach this map in this order:

  1. Business objectives
  2. User goals
  3. Our main offerings
  4. Website Priorities

Once you answer these simple questions such as your business objectives, user goals and your main offerings you can easily set website priorities.

#1. Business Objectives

What is the purpose of having the website? Is it to convert as many prospects to customers or are you looking to strengthen your reputation and become a thought leader in your industry? Are you looking to differentiate your brand? In many cases, it can be a combination of all three.

What is the key overall messaging that you would like to convey? In the interest of clarity, what are you trying to say and achieve? Your web strategy will differ based on the actual goals of the site:

For example if our goal is only to sell a product or service we will gear our content towards that objective. If on the other hand, the main purpose of our content is to establish ourselves as a thought leader in our industry, then our content requirements will be different.

#2. User Goals

We need to clearly define our users before we can come up with their goals and I like to divide this step into two:

  1. Persona development: Who are the users? When we clearly define our personas we can come up with their goals in visiting us once we answer these questions:
    • What are my persona’s pain points?
    • How will my product solve these pain points?
    • How will my product address the needs of my personas?

    Persona development allows us to:

    • quickly craft messaging that speaks directly to our prospects.
    • invest advertising dollars in the the best channels for engaging with our prospects and customers.
    • tap into the language that best resonates with our audience.
  2. User Goals: What are the goals of these users? Content on the web is highly task driven and knowing why they come to our website enables us to craft the type of content that will engage our users and keep them coming back again and again.

#3. Key Offerings

What is our USP (unique selling proposition)? What is it that sets us apart from other businesses like us? What is it that makes us beyond compare?

In order to write landing pages that convert every time, we need to answer this key question: Given a choice of potentially thousands of competitors on the internet why would the customer want to buy from us? What are we offering that the others are not? How is our product different from the thousands of other products in the market like ours?

#4. Website Priorities

This last step is the easiest as it involves putting together all the information from the previous three steps.

If I was a baker and I want to sell my baked goods as well as share recipes, I would need to create two personas (not necessarily separate) of bakers and buyers. My users’ goals would be to get good recipes as well as to buy baked goodies. My website priorities would be to convince and convert prospects to buy my baked wares and to share my recipes with other bakers.

Let’s say that I was creating content for a women’s wing of a hospital. Their main objectives are to educate and inform their audience about early detection for certain conditions and also to promote the various options for these conditions in their hospital. The user goals would be to find out more info, to study and research their conditions as well as to understand the various options. The website priorities in this case would be to educate and promote options for the various conditions.

Once you create this type of a content map, content creation becomes a snap and all the web disciplines can borrow from this map to create a site that has the user in mind right from it’s very inception.

This process has saved me a ton of time. What strategies do you use to plan your content? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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  1. Frederic Gonzalo says

    Great post, Gazalla. I think point #3 is perhaps the most important of them all: if you know what sets your brand, product or service apart from the competition, then you’ll know what to write about and why. Too many organizations don’t stick to their USP – Unique Selling Proposition – and try to be everything to everyone, thinking their product caters to folks aged 7 to 77. It’s just not true, or very rarely so.

    Having this clear allows to churn out quality content for the site, blog and social platforms alike, aligning with the business objectives set out from the get-go, as you outlined here. Good stuff!


    • says

      I agree with you, Frederic. point #3 is the most important. However, in some cases, I’ve had small business owners who simply wanted to have a web presence for lead nurturing and also because it was expected of them. They did not want their competitors to get wind of all that they did for their clients. So that’s the reason, I always place business objectives at the top of my list. That said, without our key offerings in place, we cannot write a word of copy. I guess they all go hand-in-hand.

  2. Adi Gaskell says

    Very interesting Gazalla. I have to confess that I’ve never thought about things in that much detail before. How widespread is the model do you think?

    • says

      Thant’s an excellent question. Content Strategy is a newly developing field mainly to administer and plan content for large corporate sites. But these strategies have proved useful for me in planning content for small sites as well. Since the field is so new, I don’t really know how widespread the model is. I will certainly do some research and get back to you. Thanks for your feedback, as always.

  3. says

    This is a great tool Gazalla – I had never seen it before. When we build out a client’s web presence, we always use a wireframe and it is always informed by a strategic process around core messaging, value proposition and target personae. Adding a content map to the mix really aligns all of those considerations (even before the wireframe is built). I’m going to give it a try with our next project!
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