For the last few months I’ve been working with Erika Stewart on a website to share their farming vlog and share first hand ranch information with beef consumers (maybe that’s you, I know I enjoy a good steak). Here are some takeaways from this project that will likely be helpful if you’ve got a website project on your mind as well!
It’s tempting to say “I’d like for everyone to be able to use the resources I share” but it’s harder to write them with EVERYONE in mind.
Erika and I had many conversations about who her website was for and how she wanted sto share the content with them. She wanted it to be casual, heartfelt and honest. So that’s the tone we focused on but the “who” was a little harder to nail down.
Erika wanted to be very inclusive (which is admirable and important) and I know so many of you also struggle with how to be inclusive but also have direction in your writing. And honestly choosing an audience can be a bit elusive but I do know that being direct and speaking to a specific audience doesn’t necessarily mean your excluding anyone. It just means that you will connect better with the people that can relate to you most.
Say, for example, someone asked you “what you do to keep your mental health strong” and you answered:
The second answer is very directed to horseback riders. And they would likely be the ones to relate to it the most. The first answer is the most general and probably the most inclusive but also the least helpful Or insightful. Writing with a specific type of person in mind is important so that you can give more in depth and valuable answers. Vague, undirected answers aren’t very helpful to anyone.
Narrowing down your focus and directing your answers doesn’t exclude anyone from learning from them. What it does do is ensure that the people that need your message the most can relate to it and connect with it on a deeper level.
2. START COMPILING THE MEAT AND BONES OF YOUR WEBSITE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
The ‘meat and bones’ are things like graphics, pictures, links, videos, testimonials and content, for example FAQ answers. These are the types of items that your website designer can’t do without and it falls on you to collect them or write them. A website designer can often do some of the main content writing but the very specific answers will likely need your voice and attention.
As a website designer I can tell you that the biggest hold up to project progress is usually collecting all the info needed to build the pages. It’s not hard work to collect it but it is a bit of a time commitment to choose pictures, request testimonials, and sit down and actually brainstorm what you want included. If you have a resume built already this can often be very handy for building an about page.
An Agriculture Advocate website is a very content heavy type of website which Erika and I discovered as we began to put it together. It took a lot of back and forth figuring out what resources we needed. The most valuable part of an Agriculture Advocates website is the answers they share to questions food consumers have. Erika put a lot of thought and effort into compiling her answers and info.
Although it was a similar amount of work to other website I’ve built it did take longer to complete this project because of the significant amount of content to include.
If your working on a website project and want to include an FAQ section or Blog posts answering customer questions I would suggest setting aside a little more time to write and plan the content. It’ll be worth your time and help the project progress.
I use a Website questionnaire to collect info from all my clients. After this project I will definitely be adding the following questions to it:
Giving and getting feedback can be a bit confusing at times. Whenever you give feedback to your website designer always indicate the page and section that your referring to. Screenshots can be very helpful too.
For this project we used Wix and it has a built in commenting option which was quite useful but didn’t come Without its own set of glitches.
As a website designer this is an area that I’m
Working on. When I’m working on a website I am constantly making updates and changes (nothing is ever perfect enough 😂). I feel that I definitely muddied the waters by asking for feedback and then changing things while they were reviewing it. Or not completing all the changes before requesting more feedback. In the future I will try to batch my edits, request feedback and then wait patiently for feedback. (Reminder to self: patience is a virtue).
Regular communication and zoom phone calls are also really great for clearing up any confusion. I always plan at least 5 calls spread throughout a project.
All in all this was a dream project for me and I think Erika and I created a really great resource. Erika can now expand on this starting place for years to come!
If your thinking of building a website or in the midst of a website project I hope you find this useful!