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How to Increase Site Usability with Content Budgets

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Site usability is a strategy that focuses on making a website useful to visitors. It is a combination of interesting content and appealing design.

Speed, navigation and visual appeal are common tactics that increase usability. But they mean nothing without plenty of good content.

Publishers can develop good content and improve website usability with the help of a news media tool called the budget.

A budget is a management document that tracks stories either already written but not published or soon to be written. It can organize content into categories that ensure every site section is well developed.

A news budget tracks stories that will break in a matter of a day or two or sometimes a few weeks. A feature budget might look months ahead.

A budget also works well with a website, especially if taken one step further.

Budgets Guide Appeal and Usefulness

Search engines like websites that publish new content. They reward those sites with higher rankings and sometimes even more ad revenue (in the case of AdSense).

In general, the more content the better. Likewise, the more consistency the better. Sites that publish a lot of content at once and then nothing for days or weeks will likely see a spike in traffic and then a decline.

Sites that publish content consistently will likely see a more predictable amount of traffic from search engines.

A budget helps manage that flow by using a scheduling system that identifies the dates that stories should be published on a site.

But a budget doesn’t have to look only in the future. It also can look in the past.

A spreadsheet workbook can have one spreadsheet devoted to stories that are scheduled to be published and show the publication dates in chronological order.

The second spreadsheet can look in the past and categorize stories that already have been published.

Another approach is a spreadsheet for each channel, section, tag or category.

Usability Budget Example

Imagine a guide with 10 geographical sections, each of which contains the same types of stories, i.e., the tourist attractions for 10 different locations in a travel guide.

The goal is consistency in the product for all 10 sections.

A budget using a grid system has the 10 geographical sections along the left side and the type of stories across the top.

The grid reveals which sections are missing a type of story.

The result is a budget that serves several purposes:

  • Track future stories
  • Categorize paste stories
  • Identify missing stories
  • Identify strong or weak categories.

The end result is higher site usability for visitors because of deep and broad content covering multiple topics.

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