Every year, my husband, Justin, and I plant a garden. After living in NYC for many years, we still get a thrill from getting our hands into the North Carolina dirt and taking sloppy bites from fresher-than-fresh tomatoes.
Through trial and error, we’ve also learned a few things. And I’ve noticed that cultivating a garden has a lot in common with crafting effective website content. Here are three tips that apply to both.
1. Plan Ahead
Zucchini and tomato plants can grow to huge proportions; but jalapeno plants and basil tend to keep a smaller footprint. Rosemary needs excellent drainage, while potatoes will grow almost anywhere. So while it may seem easy enough to just toss seeds into the ground, planning is essential.
Same goes for your website. Before you start writing, create an outline and a strategy based on what kinds of content you need to present, which content is most important, and how your visitors will navigate through the pages.
2. Don’t Crowd!
As newbie gardeners, Justin and I heard that we should “thin” our seedlings, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to yank baby plants out of the earth. As a result, we ended up with small, stunted carrots and miniature kale leaves. Once we finally started thinning our rows, our crops were happier, healthier, and more productive.
I know you’ve come across websites that also haven’t been “thinned.” Gobs of words crowd the pages, making it a chore to read. In writing for the web, the key is to keep paragraphs short, use headings for scannability, and leave white space to let those words breathe.
3. Learn from the Past
Many gardeners keep yearly notebooks, with sketched plot plans and notes about what worked and what didn’t. Justin and I aren’t that ambitious, but we have learned over time what varieties of eggplants and squash we prefer, and that there are some spots in our yard where nothing thrives.
When it comes to your website, tracking measurable results is essential. Tools like Google Analytics and StatCounter can help you identify which pages are underperforming, what types of blog posts are most popular, and where your readers are coming from.
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Like a garden, a website is never truly “done.” It takes tweaking and will naturally evolve over time with your business. But the tips above will ensure that your website is a fruitful and functional place where visitors will want to linger a little longer.