How to Find the Most Important Pages on Your Website

If you attended our Planning and Writing Web Content training you’ll recall we cover the topic of core pages during the day. These are the most important pages on your website.

We know that more than a few people struggled to identify these core pages on their own sites. Especially once they’d left the cosy confines of our training sessions, with one of our content officers on hand to help out…

It’s not an easy concept to master as many of our websites are split into sections that could arguably all be seen as important. But here’s a method you can easily follow:

Start with a purpose

Traditionally, websites were created at the University because there was a service, a school, institute, centre or whatever. Sites existed simply because they could – so they often didn’t start with a well-defined purpose.

No one stopped to ask ‘what are we trying to achieve with this website?’

The downside to this is if websites don’t have a defined purpose, then they can literally host ANYTHING. Sorry for shouting, but it’s true. Thousands of pages of unrelated content, hundreds of pictures, videos, power point presentations, blah blah blah – you name it, we’ve seen it.

It’s better to focus on your audience’s wants and needs.

So we have a specific undergraduate website, rather than a Marketing and Student Recruitment site with undergraduate content.

Create your site purpose

  1. List your website users/audiences. For example potential staff, media, international students, researchers.
  2. List the tasks your users come to your website to do. For example contact staff, apply for a course, check event times.
  3. Think about the business goals your website is supporting. For example, recruit staff, encourage collaboration, share news, advertise courses.

These lists are your new BFF and invaluable, they’ll form the basis of your site purpose statement.

Identifying your core pages

The next step is to identify those core pages that will support your site purpose.

Start with your list of user tasks and your list of business goals. Your core pages are those where these two elements meet – where your user can complete a task and you can convey your message.

For example, on a school site users often want to contact staff. One of our University-wide business goals is to enable collaboration, so our staff profile pages are core pages.

Another core page example would be a page about a CPD (or any) course. Users want to know what, where, when and the cost – we want them to apply, contact us, sign up – our business goals.

This exercise combined with data from analytics to show your most visited pages can help you identify your core pages quite easily.

Now you know…get going!

Set aside a few moments to make those lists, and use them to identify your core pages.

We can even help you plan content for these VIP pages. Download a core page template from our website. It’s straightforward and quickly helps you focus on what should/shouldn’t be there.

You can even use your core pages to prioritise what work to tackle next on your website.

Let your core pages help you decide what’s important and what’s not.

Once you know who you’re creating your website content for, and understand what they want to do/know – focus effort on these core pages and by default, you’ll create a better website.

Related posts

How to Use the Core Model to Improve Your Web Content

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Creating Effective Calls to Action

In our planning for the web training, we told you all about the core model; web pages that direct users to business goals or further information.

The paths through these pages can be highlighted as calls to action (CTA). Today, I’m going to talk about them in a little more detail.

Transactional vs navigational

There are two types of CTA, transactional and navigational.

Transactional CTA achieve business goals by getting your users to:

  • buy
  • order
  • book
  • enquire
  • pay
  • apply

Navigational CTA provide users with forward paths by linking to further information or a logical ‘next step’ in the user journey.

When you need to button it

Navigational CTA generally only need a hyperlink within the textFor example, ‘visit our Postgraduate website to find out more about funding opportunities’.

Transactional CTA require something with more impact. That’s where the T4 content type 08. Button comes in.

Buttons are larger and more eye-catching than hyperlinks. The text on them should be active, and encourage the user to do something like ‘buy now’ or ‘sign up’.

There’s examples of CTA buttons on our Go Mobile Demo website.


Think of your web page as a story, with the call to action as the epic climax. The narrative or your page (ie the rest of the content) should build anticipation for the call to action.

You should tell your users:

  • what the page is about
  • what the problem/issue/benefit is
  • a little of what the user will get out of pressing your button

Get it right

You can find out about different types of CTA, what types of pages to use them on, and even our top tips for using buttons.

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Editing Other People’s Content

So you’ve attended our Writing for the Web training and you know all about the inverted pyramid and writing concise, scannable web content. Now you’re faced with a request to add some new content to the website…

It’s a wall of text – full of long sentences, a lot of jargon and it’s about a topic that you don’t have any subject knowledge of. A feeling of dread washes over you, questions start racing through your mind. How will I prioritise the information? How can I shorten sentences when I don’t really understand them? What are the important points that I need to emphasise with bold or a bulleted list?

In our recent Writing Web Content training there were a few questions about how to edit other people’s content – particularly how to prioritise and edit complex content.

In Corporate Web Development (CWD) we face this challenge on a daily basis. In this post I’m going to share my top five tips for editing other people’s content.

1. Find out the purpose of the content

For any webpage you create you need to know why you’re creating the page and how it fits into your site purpose.

You need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • who am I creating this page for? (your users)
  • what do the users want to find out? (their questions/tasks)
  • what does the organisation want the user to do after reading your content? (business goals)

Without these answers you’ll struggle to edit the content so it’s important to speak to the subject-expert or the person who provided the content.

Discuss with content author

Set up a meeting with, or speak to, the author of the content so that you can find out the purpose of the content.

initial face-to-face or verbal briefings need to give content creators an understanding of where their work will sit in terms of the wider project and give them the chance to ask initial questions

Jackie Kingsley, Sticky Content

Armed with the knowledge of who the users are, their tasks, and what the author wants to achieve, you’ll have the confidence to start prioritising and reconfiguring the content for the web – and deleting any unnecessary words!

It’s also important to get the agreed content purpose in writing and send to all involved. This acts as a written record so that you have something to refer to when editing and it makes it clear and transparent for everyone involved.

2. Agree deadlines

It’s important to agree on specific deadlines.

It’s impossible to keep your content production slick and manageable without well-enforced deadlines

Rhiannon Jones, Sticky Content

There might be deadlines for:

  • completing a first pass edit and sending content back to the author
  • the author and stakeholders to send amends
  • the author and stakeholders to sign off content
  • content to go live on the site

Again getting deadlines in writing (even if it’s just an email) gives you a written record to refer back to. Then, if additional content is needed or if the author misses the deadline for sign-off, the record shows there will be an impact on content going live.

3. Take ownership of the content

When editing other people’s content all the rules of writing for the web still apply. Often as editors we can feel nervous about changing someone else’s words but it’s important not to fall back into the role of a content-putter-upper.

You’re the one publishing the content so it’s important that you take ownership of it. Remember you will probably know more about writing for the web than the author so it’s up to you to edit the information so that it’ll work across devices.


If possible, get someone else to check the content after editing and before sending back to the author.

In an ideal world no one will proof copy they have created. That’s because it’s extremely difficult to see your own mistakes

Jackie Kingsley, Sticky Content

Again, if you’ve got the purpose of the content from the author in writing you can use this at the proofing stage.

Content can also be checked against the written brief during the QA process

Jackie Kingsley, Sticky Content

4. Ask the author to check for accuracy only

When you send the content back to the author for sign off, ask them to check for accuracy only. It’s important that the facts are correct, which may have been misinterpreted through the nature of editing. However, you don’t want lots of opinions about style, tone or format as the content has already been edited for the web.

I often find it helpful to compile a document of any content gaps or questions that I’ve come across while editing the content. You can also use this document to explain any editing choices you’ve made and why the edited content works better for different devices. Again, a written record makes everything clear and transparent.

5. Schedule time to review content

Often content is edited and polished before it’s published but then after it goes lives it’s left to languish on the site. Links become broken and content becomes out of date – resulting in frustrated users and the credibility of the site being questioned.

So whatever the content you’re editing, however small it might be, make sure you schedule in time to review it. Speak to the author about whether it is still relevant to their business goals and their users’ tasks.

Share your tips

And that’s my whistle stop tour of editing other people’s content.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve got a challenging editing situation, or share your tips for editing other people’s content.

Further reading and references

Related posts

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Why do you have a Website?

Why DO you have a website? Can you answer this question in around 50 words? Any bets you’ll find it hard.

Newcastle University has around 150 external facing websites.

Our best ones have an audience in mind, have a clear set of tasks or goals to support and we measure their success. They have a site purpose.

The worst ones exist because a new department or team was set up or we wanted to tell some people about something. These sites decay over time. They aren’t updated. No-one knows if they are supporting our business goals. They fill our web real estate with waffle and ‘just in case’ content. They have no site purpose.

Defining your site purpose

As part of our Go Mobile programme we’re writing a site purpose statement for each site. Grab a piece of flipchart paper and work through these steps:

  1. Know your audience

Who are the key audiences for your site? Brainstorm with colleagues to make sure you know who you are writing for. Be mindful of not just saying “everybody”. You’ll find it hard to prioritise content if you do.

  1. Tasks

For each of your audiences, think about what they want to do when they get to your site. What are their top tasks? Two or three will do.

  1. Business Goals

What do you want your site visitor to do? Business goals should be measurable eg increasing student applications by 10 % rather than being a task like “I want to apply”. Again, two or three will do.

  1. Content and tone of voice

Come up with some words and phrases that describe how you want to come across to your readers. Are you clear, complex, conversational or professional? How do you want them to feel: confused, empowered, confident or suspicious?

Once you’ve got all this, you’re ready to write your site purpose.

Writing your site purpose

We’re using an idea presented by Sara Wachter-Boettcher at Confab Europe 2014. You can find out more about it on her blog post: Content Mad Libs.

A Mad Lib is a fill-in-the-blanks exercise where, once completed, you have the beginnings of a site purpose. It looks a bit like this and comes in at around 50-70 words:

Fill in the blanks (Madlib exercise) for the Newcastle Web Team's website.

Corporate Web Development Team’s site purpose 

I’m not going to lie, some editors have found it painful to prioritise only two or three top tasks.

In some cases, we’ve explored whether we need more than one site purpose – more of a site section purpose if you like.

This tells me that some of our sites have too many audiences to support and perhaps need dividing up into smaller sites.

Content putter-uppers no more!

The site purpose statement gives our web editors a tool to prioritise content according to audience and business need.

Our editors aren’t just there to put content up on the site. Their role is to question, prioritise and rewrite.

So, when you get asked to add some content to a site, the answer isn’t just “yes, of course”.

You question the content: is it for my audience, does it support a task or business goal, does it need rewriting?

Then the content gets added. Or, more importantly, doesn’t, if it doesn’t fit the site purpose.

Have a go

There’s no need to wait for the Go Mobile programme to try and come up with your site purpose. Have a go using the steps provided. We’ve also got some templates on our website to help you (University Login required). Get in touch if you need some further help with this.

Let us know how you get on in the comments. Happy Madlibbing!

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