Web Content Context


I read an article recently over at A List Apart regarding content by Erin Kissane, a content strategist. She describes a thorough checklist that one dealing with web content can compare their work to ensure high quality. All fantastic stuff, but what really stood out as a great point was that not only should the user be considered when writing content, but the context of the user should be considered as well. Where they are, how they're feeling, what is their concern at that moment.

For instance, imagine a simple user persona for a company that provides powerful wireless routers specifically for large, luxury homes:

Target User 1

  • Age: 25-45
  • Gender: Male
  • Educatiion: Some college or higher
  • Technical knowledge: Average
  • Income: $100,000+
  • Maritial Status: Married

Ok, we get a basic idea from this breakdown. Fairly wealthy man with a family and a large house that needs a powerful wireless router. But what this doesn't tell us is what this user is looking for right now. Consider two separate scenarios with the same user:

Scenario 1: Shopping for a New Router

A photo of a happy userThe man here is evaluating different options. He is considering price, features and reliability. He is likely to be interested in user reviews or testimonials to prove the claims of the website regarding the product. When he comes ot the homepage he wants to have a clear idea that he is in the right place and has options to explore, without being beaten over the head with "buy now" buttons all over the place.

A photo of an angry user

Scenario 2: Seeking Support for Current Router

The first thing to consider here is that the user might not have internet because of router trouble. That's a huge leap in context from the previous example. If so, it's likely the user will be browsing the site from a mobile or tablet device and is interested only in support options. In this context, it might be more effective to have the homepage mobile-opimized and default to displaying support information.

You can see the importance of not only knowing who they user is, but what they are doing at the time when they are accessing your site. In these two scenarios we can see the same users having completely different priorities given his context at the time. Keeping this idea in mind, combined with adaptive content strategies to deliver specific content based on device, search term, etc, can further increase a site's effectiveness at helping users solve their problems.