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Increase Site Usability with Content Budgets

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Site usability gets a boost with the help of an old 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.

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.

Budgets are a great way of staying organized and keeping on top of events that might otherwise be forgotten.

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

Search Engines Like New Content


earch engines like Web sites 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. 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, although many other factors also affect the results.

So whether a site is simple a guide about travel or something entirely different, it pays to maintain that consistent flow.

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.

Financial budgets look into the past and the future, and story budgets can do the same.

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.

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 listed along the left side and the type of stories listed 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 a way of cataloging both past and future content that creates order, discipline and productivity for the site manager.

Ultimately, it also leads to greater site usability for the visitor who expects and wants quality and consistency from one section to another and one story to another.

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