Content Strategy 101: Identify your goals and your audience’s objectives

An effective content strategy requires thinking through the goals of your site, why people may visit, and how to guide visitors through your content.


Whether you’re a student group, an academic department or an administrative office, your group contributes to the story of WashU. People will visit your site not only to register for an event or find a chair’s email; they’ll visit to learn who you are, what you do, and how you’re important to the people of – and beyond – Washington University.

Using a website to tell your story can be a complex and ongoing process. If you’re working against a deadline, remember that you can start simple and layer in more content after your site launches.

To get started, here are a few questions to consider:

Audience: Who are you trying to reach?

Who will visit your site, and what are they looking for? What will visitors want to accomplish or learn when they visit? What do they need to know about your group and its offerings to interact with the site efficiently? What information can you provide – and how how can you organize it – so visitors have a satisfying experience with your site?

Objectives: Why do you need a site?

What do you hope your visitors will do or learn by visiting your site? What goal or purpose does your site serve for your group or office? What problems could your site solve?

Message: What do you have to tell people?

What is your group’s mission? What broader departments, schools or initiatives are you related to, and how do you contribute to their fulfillment? What are some specific actions, accomplishments and stories that exemplify your mission or contributions?

We know these are big questions, and obviously they overlap. Talk them over with your team, and use your discussion to plan the content for your site.

Then you’ll be ready to identify the information and stories your site will include, and how to structure it. For more on that, see our next handy guide in the content strategy series: Organize pages for users’ needs.