Having a professional WordPress website created
Written by Finn Ruijter, 29 July 2020

Here’s how to create the perfect informational website

Not all websites are there to score leads or recruit new employees. Sites of (semi-)government agencies are a good example of this; above all, they want to inform visitors well. What should you pay attention to when building such a website spearheaded by online self-service? And how do you measure success?

Who have service-oriented websites?

Online success does not mean the same thing to everyone. For example, there are numerous organizations whose main purpose of their Internet presence is to inform: about the work they do, the subject they specialize in or the collection they manage (think of a museum or library). Here are some examples of organizations whose websites are primarily intended to inform or educate.

  • Central government
  • Municipalities
  • Water boards and environmental services
  • Educational institutions
  • Political parties
  • NGOs

Businesses may also have as a goal or subgoal to primarily inform the visitor. Some examples of ways companies do this:

  • Turn customers into ambassadors (increase Net Promoter Score)
  • Self-service to visitors (frequently asked questions, chat, portals)
  • Achieve cost savings (reduce contact moments with help desk)

How do you structure a service-oriented Web site?

To serve your visitors effectively, information must be accessible. We can take libraries, museums or history books as an example: all three make information accessible, although each of them does so in a different way. The basic principles they follow in doing so are organizing and providing inputs.

By arrangement, we mean that you split the information by topic and put it in a logical order. In a library, books are arranged by genre, and a museum exhibits works by category, style or artist. A history book often organizes information into chapters, each dealing with a time period. So think about this: what is the best way to organize your information?

By providing inputs , we are talking about ways to find the information you want. Whereas in a library you walk with a few steps to a different genre and in a history book you just open another era, a website should also offer these kinds of shortcuts. That starts with a clear navigation menu – if possible with main topics and sub-topics. Through tags or categories, you can offer visitors different entry points. A search field allows them to find a page or article that matches their query.

How do you make sure visitors get the message?

Numerous studies show that the attention span of Internet users is extremely short. We at 2manydots also see it when we generate a heatmap of a website: the further down you scroll, the more visitors drop out.

In 2008, visitors read on average only 20% of what was on a Web page. It is likely that that percentage has since fallen. The American network Plain Language knows a solution to that: “To make sure visitors get half of your message, make sure your page is no more than 110 words.”

The trend for larger fonts and more whitespace fits this perfectly. With short paragraphs, lots of headings and lists, make sure today’s scanning readers quickly find the information they are looking for. Bold words, as we do in this article, also make information stick better.

Regardless of your house style, you prefer to use an active writing style with short sentences. Supported with images and videos, the message is more likely to succeed than if the visitor is presented with a large chunk of text.

In terms of design, you achieve the most by keeping it simple and clean . The more elements on a page, the more you distract or even deter the visitor. Of course, your website should be responsive: it adapts to the user’s screen size, so it also looks attractive on a smartphone or tablet.

Using WordPress for an informational website

WordPress is the world’s most popular Content Management System (CMS). Originally developed as a blogging platform, WordPress has become an attractive CMS for larger organizations. The basic tools for structuring an information collection had been around for a while, but constant updates now allow webmasters to set up multisites, sell products or services and take far-reaching security measures.

In other words: WordPress is loved by IT specialists and web editors alike. It is user-friendly and can meet the most stringent design, speed, security and uptime requirements through the use of plugins. 2manydots specializes in creating WordPress websites for demanding clients with informative websites.

Guidelines, requirements and laws

To provide a safe and welcoming environment for your visitors, your website must meet legal requirements. In addition, there are guidelines and best practices that webmasters are increasingly choosing to follow. We list the most important ones.

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (AVG) applies to all organizations that collect personal data. At the European level, this is called the General Data Protection Regulation, which is why in the Netherlands it is also sometimes referred to with the abbreviation GDPR.This law requires organizations to put a cookie notification and privacy statement on the website, to collect only the information that is really needed, to use an HTTPS connection, to keep all plugins up to date and to make regular backups.
  • To provide optimal information to as many visitors as possible, more and more organizations want to comply with WCAG rules. This is a set of international guidelines that take into account the fact that not everyone can read, understand or operate computer equipment equally well.Content that has been adapted and enriched to meet WCAG guidelines is also accessible to users with physical, sensory or cognitive disabilities.
  • It may seem obvious, but we’ll mention it anyway: copyright law (copyright) not only prohibits you from copying text verbatim and using someone else’s photos, but also aims to prevent “needless danger of confusion”: color schemes and logos that look too much like another organization’s, for example.
  • If you do advertise, it must meet legal requirements: banners, recruiting text and pop-ups must be immediately recognizable as such. You may send e-mail advertising, both to individuals and business recipients, only with prior permission.

How do you keep such a large site stable and secure?

You want to offer your target audience the information it is looking for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Therefore, an extraordinary event, such as a disaster or extra publicity, should not affect your accessibility. Therefore, for maximum uptime, choose a rock-solid Web server with the largest available bandwidth.

It is also a fact that websites of large corporations and government agencies are constantly under attack. Foreign intelligence agencies and independent hackers are constantly testing the weaknesses of major websites, targeting users’ personal data. The AVG/GDPR legislation already takes some account of this, but the measures you take are welcome to go a few steps further. Make backups preferably daily and implement updates as soon as they become available, as they often plug security holes.

Safety measures are also recommended on the users’ side. Consider, for example, activating Two Factor Authentication (2FA) or using digital signatures.

Here’s how to be found

Your target audience has little use for such a top quality website if it is untraceable. By consistently
applying SEO, such as adding page titles and meta descriptions, you send a signal to Google: we want visitors to be as fully informed about the content as possible.

A fast load time is also very important. Not only to prevent visitors from dropping out even before absorbing the information and causing a high bounce rate, but also because Google rewards a fast website. It is common knowledge that one of the factors determining ranking is site load time.

Why your work is never finished

Measuring the success of a commercial site is simple: we look at conversions. These could be quote requests, newsletter subscriptions or sales. But how do you determine if your organization’s informational Web site is successful?

It starts with setting goals. The main goal, of course, is to inform your visitors as fully as possible. There can be all sorts of reasons for this. That you want to reduce the number of visitors at the counter, for example. Or that you want to be able to help people even after hours.

One way to measure the success of your informational Web site is to ask your visitors questions. Are they finding the information they are looking for? How well does a page answer their question? A pop-up or poll on the page will give you an idea of how effective pages are at conveying information after only a few days.

Other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be found in Google Analytics: the average time visitors “stick around” on the site gives you a good idea of how interesting the content is. In fact, a high bounce rate tells you that the content is not answering your visitors’ questions much, if at all; perhaps because you are ranking for the wrong search term?

How perfect is your informational website? Check it yourself with our handy service and loyalty checklist

If providing service or creating loyalty is the main goal of your site, we have something handy for you. Something that allows you to see in under a minute in which areas you score well and, perhaps more importantly, where there are gains to be made. Do the check right now: download the service and loyalty checklist for free.

Looking for more information? Then read the service and loyalty white paper. A good start is half the battle!