Content Purpose Maps: The Simple Way to Help Make Your Website Work Harder

This one simple trick can save money, increase conversions, build your brand and make your site visitors happier than they've ever been. Meet the Content Purpose Map.
Columnist, American Express OPEN
March 13, 2015

That website you built for your company, let’s be honest: It could be better. And if done right, you could turn that website of yours into your company’s hardest working employee. When you sleep, it works. When you’re vacationing in Bali, it works. When you’re working, guess what? It works.

All it takes from you to build a harder working website is an afternoon, a few straight lines and the ability to think like a control freak. You game?

I’m going to teach you how to build a Content Purpose Map. I’ve been building these for my clients for the past two years, and here’s what they do (and why you want to build one):

  • Web Design: They make a UI/front end designer’s job a breeze.
  • Copywriting: Your copywriter will be sending you holiday cards for years to come because you just made their job (making your brand shine) 10 times easier.
  • E-commerce: Increase conversions the easy way (logic) instead of the hard way (spending more money than necessary on search marketing).
  • Customer Satisfaction: Become the one place on the Web where your audience knows just what to do. Help them click to solve instead of click to leave.

What You’ll Need

My clients find that an Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet both work nicely. My creative clients tend to draw the grid themselves (or even lay it all out in Photoshop or a similar program).

Step 1: Set Up Your Content Purpose Map

This is the simple part. Use the example below as a guide. Down the left column, you’ll list all the pages of your website. Across the top, you’ll have six columns (Page, Subpage, Message, Gold, Silver, Bronze).

content purpose map napoletano 1 

Step 2: Identify the Main Message for Each Page of Your Website

If you don’t know what the main message is for every page of your website, your audience won’t, either. I invite my clients to think of every page of their website having a specific job. Your job in this step of your Content Purpose Map is to figure out just what job each page has and clearly enumerate it. See the example below.

content purpose map napoletano 2 

And to be clear, I ask my clients to not have overlap on main messages between pages. This is like hiring two people to do one person’s job. Just hire a better person.

Now that you know the job each page of your website needs to do, it’s time to get freaky. Control freaky, that is.

Step 3: Get Your Control Freak On

Ever wish you could reach through that computer screen and make your site visitor’s hand click on the one thing you want them to click on most? This is where your control freak can come in.

Your audience has a limited amount of time, so you have to tell them you respect their time. You do this by directing them to do what you want them to do most. I call these your Olympic Moves. Here’s your guide:

  • Gold: If you could reach through the screen and guide someone’s hand to click on the most important action.
  • Silver: If that person is in a mood that day and refuses to click on the Gold move, you’d be happy if they took this action.
  • Bronze: Your site visitor is in a total mood and won’t do either the Gold or Silver action. You’ll take this action from your site visitor as a consolation prize.

In the example below, you can see how pages can share the same Gold, Silver and Bronze actions. Some pages might not have all three types of actions (like a Contact page). Now that you’ve mapped this out, you have something golden.

content purpose map napoletano 3

You've built your Content Purpose Map! You know the main message of every page of your website (its job) and the one to three most important things it needs to get done for your customers every day. This gives you a powerful set of tools to either evaluate your current content or start creating content for a new website from scratch—and with purpose.

Step 4: Evaluate Your Current Content

Human resources departments conduct employee evaluations based on certain performance criteria. This is your chance to be your website’s HR department. Starting with your home page, go through every page of your website and ask the following questions:

  • Does this page effectively convey the main message on our Content Purpose Map?
  • Does this page effectively direct our visitors to take the Gold, Silver and Bronze level actions we want them to take (and in that order of priority)?

It’s possible you have some adjusting to do. Make notes about whether you’ll need visual design assistance, copywriting assistance or possibly both. Now, you can enlist your creative team to get the job done.

Step 5: Share Your Content Purpose Map With Key Creative Team Members

Whether you’re starting from scratch or reviewing an existing website, your Content Purpose Map gives you a tool to create with purpose.

If you’re building a new website, your Content Purpose Map helps ensure that every wireframe and page design honors the job that page has to do and the actions you want to guide visitors to take.

If you’re improving upon an existing website, your Content Purpose Map ensures that every change you enlist your creative team to make is done in the best direction for your brand, and not just because something looks cool or sounds good word-wise.

And when it comes to copywriting, your writing pro will thank you because your map tells them exactly what the words on the page need to accomplish and with what priority: Gold (tops), Silver (you’ll take it), Bronze (fine, be that way).

Now, you can take a moment and bask in the fact that you’ve created your website’s Content Purpose Map and your competitor likely has not. Spend about 15 seconds on that and then … get to work.

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Photo: Getty Images