Your Website: Engine or Caboose?
By Jason Pope
It was my fault that I was shocked.
I was meeting a new employee from another department. He had taken our web user training class, and I knew that web content would be a significant part of his new role.
“Our website is our top priority,” I told him. “And your work with our web content will be the most important and influential thing you will do.”
“I’m surprised to hear you say that,” he said. “In my job training, updating the website was barely mentioned at the end. The caboose.”
I was shocked, but mostly at myself. I should not have assumed that our departments’ priorities and agendas would automatically match.
The Caboose: Content Last
I’m grateful for our conversation that day. It gave us a chance to educate each other and share perspectives.
It also reminded me of just how common the “content last” mindset can be. Website content is often treated like the caboose: the very last step instead of the driving force. If you’ve ever seen made-for-print content loaded into a content management system (CMS) and then forgotten, you know what I’m talking about. Content, it seems, will somehow take care of itself.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Engine: Content First
The truth is, your website drives your message, your voice, and your content.
Your website is the engine.
It’s where prospective students learn what programs you offer and how much they cost.
It’s where people go to sign up for your event, pay a bill, find a book, or voice a concern.
It’s where they experience your vibe and decide whether or not they will fit in.
What vibe are your site visitors getting? What does your content say to them?
When your website is treated like the caboose, it will always fall behind and will fail your visitors.
But treat it like the engine it is, and it can efficiently drive your visitors to the answers they need and the actions they need to take.
The best way to start treating your website like the engine is to put your visitors first. Understand them. Find out what their questions are, what they need to do, and where they need to go.
Invest in your website as the engine that will take them there, full-steam ahead.
We’re here to help.