How to Decide What to Change
So, you’ve looked at your stats, and you’ve found the entry pages where readers frequently land. Now you’re checking them out to make sure that those pages are fresh and welcoming.
How far do you go? Some were written way back when. Do you edit the content? Do you change the design? Scott of 99 shades of grey asked those very questions this morning.
Those are the money questions. I can’t help but note the irony in the name of Scott’s blog, because these decisions are about as far from black and white as decisions can get.
The money answer is
Change what makes a difference leave what doesn’t.
Not much help is it?
That’s why I’m going to give you 6 gating questions to ask yourself about the landing pages you are looking at.
Using them, you can decide quickly and feel confident in what you decide. Take a look.
6 Gating Questions to Make Revising Easier
Gating questions are “yes or no” questions that help us make decisions. They’re called that because of the metaphor of a gate that is open or closed. If you answer “yes,” then move to action. If you answer “no,” then take no action.
I’ve used these kinds of gating questions to bring editorial decisions out of the grey — “What do I do? What is important?” — into the black and white — “Here’s how to handle this, and feel comfortable that the decision is solid.”
- Would this page make me leave as soon as I landed? .
- When I look at the page, do I want to read it?
- Is there anything about this page that misleads or confuses the reader?
- Is there anything out of date, inaccurate, or downright ugly?
- Is there something that would make a picky reader complain to others?
- Is there something that might embarrass or threaten me or my business?
At first glance, you might think these questions sound like a “good enough” approach. You should know that I devised and tested questions like these in the mid-90s with a specific purpose — designers and editors were spending time fixing things that readers didn’t see and didn’t care about.
When you fix things only you can see, you’re not really adding quality. You’re adding cost. The cost can be felt in time, money, or the missed opportunity of what else you could have been doing.
To have the perfect list of gating questions for your blog, know your readers well, understand what they see and care about, and frame the questions around those values. If you customize a list of gating questions for your blog, your decisions will be so much easier in every content and design choice you make. Your writing will be more consistent. Your brand will stronger and more powerful for readers to see when they visit.
What gating questions would add to this list?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Check out the Work with Liz!! page in the sidebar.
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Liz, thanks for the link.
That’s a great list – the only thing I might add (based on my own surfing habits) is the ability to quickly go to other parts of the site (via a list of related or favourite articles). If there’s nowhere to go, I’m less likely to stick around.
ME Strauss says
So let’s see, Scot the question might be
7. Is there the navigation missing, broken, misplaced, or too obscure for readers to find?
That would work. Thanks!