July 20, 2007 By Reid Goldsborough
On the Web, content is king. Or should be. If you want people to visit, stick around, and come back, whether you help run a corporate or other organizational site or have put together a home-grown hobby site, give them substance to satisfy them.
The appearance of your Web site is still important, helping to establish professionalism and credibility. But the information and other substantive material you provide -- the "content" -- matter most.
Several studies have backed up this commonsense notion.
One study, from the Poynter Institute and Stanford University, showed that, unlike with newspapers and magazines, people who read Web news sites typically focus on the text first, looking at photos and other graphics afterward. People on the Internet operate in "Internet time" -- fast. They don't linger over Web pages as they would a newspaper or magazine when drinking a cup of coffee.
Another study, by Forrester Research, showed that what people value most at a Web site is "direct paths to the content I am looking for." Next was "proper labeling of menu items." After this, people most valued "great search."
People reading Web sites, for the most part, seek substance over style, usefulness over flash. They want to get want they want quickly. Here are some ways to make this happen:
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.