The way to make Web content more valued is to make it more measurable. The more ways you can measure the value your content delivers, the more your career will be valued.
Increasingly, information economies will focus on ways to measure the value of the information they create. Very little work has been done on this crucial area, and most organizations hardly have a coherent information strategy, let alone a way to measure its success.
However, we are going to see major changes over the next 10 years in content accounting practices and management theory.
We have wonderful tools today that will tell us the value of the physical things in our factories and offices. Now we need to create wonderful tools and disciplines to measure all our information assets.
The real test of information is in the actions that it drives. And, ultimately, you will be measured and rewarded on the actions that you deliver with your information.
Content is the hidden asset in many organizations. To grow and continue to be profitable, organizations will need to tap this asset in a way they have not done before.
The Web provides a wonderful environment where we can test the effectiveness of content in a way that we never could before. The better organizations are going to focus increasing energy on what content is working and what content isn't working.
Right now, the measurement tools are crude, but they are getting better all the time. It is going to be a very exciting time for content professionals.
Let's face it: no matter how many times you edit something, it's hard to be really sure that it is just right—that it has the edge. Being able to measure how people respond to content is going to help us all discover where the real killer content is.
You must find ways to discover how people respond to your content. Here are some things you might consider:
- Make sure you have accurate, consistent data about your Web site. Many Web managers have extremely poor data coming through on Web site activity. To be blunt, if you can't measure, you're not really a manager. Make it a number-one priority to clean up your data.
- Focus on action points in the data. How many people are visiting the homepage and then leaving? How many people are failing to fill out forms? How many repeat visitors did you have this month?
- Test, test, test. The data will tell you only so much. The best Web managers make it part of their daily routine to interact with readers. There is no greater skill you can develop than deeply understanding of how your readers think. There is only one way to develop such insight: consistent interaction with your customers.
- Usability-test once a month. Watch people try to complete a task on your Web site. The first time you do it, you'll be amazed!
- Consider split testing. This is an advanced and interesting approach. What's split testing? Basically, using special software, you randomly split your audience in half and publish two different versions of a page. The pages may be the same except for one element—perhaps a different heading. Then you measure which page works best.
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