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What is your site for? Deep dive: Knowledge leadership sites

Edgar Allan | Blog | Leadership Sites

This article is part of our series on Four Essential Questions to Ask When Building a Successful Website, specifically part of question one: What is your site for?

At its core, a website exists for humans — and to some degree businesses — to solve problems. So, taking the time to look closely at what those problems are is going to help you figure out how to solve them successfully. Similarly, knowing that the problem we’re solving is one of brand awareness, sales journey, information distribution, or inspiring knowledge leadership (or something else) is going to help focus your efforts when planning and executing the work. 

What is a knowledge leadership site?

Knowledge leadership sites include news outlets, but also community sites like Mighty Networks or information distribution sites like Medium. These are sites dedicated to being a knowledge leader or a knowledge aggregator. 

Medium is a true knowledge aggregation site, serving up all types of content.

What sites are not knowledge leadership sites?

Quite often, when we’re asked to create a brand-focused enticement-type site, a secondary goal is for the company to appear to be a knowledge leader. In that case, companies tend to want to create a little content, have people come to them to consume it, and raise brand awareness or capture organic SEO with it. But it’s a side goal. Unfortunately, to do it well, most companies don’t have or want to acquire the resources to do large-scale knowledge leadership very well. 

So, in this case of knowledge leadership, the question “What is your site ?” becomes really relevant. What do you really want to be — a brand or a knowledge aggregator? What’s the split?  Is it 75 percent brand, 25 percent knowledge leadership? Is it 50/50? Getting the answer allows us to know where to put our resources, where to spend our time in the design and development process, and how to advise the company on how to spend their money and their time moving forward. 

Knowledge leadership is about content. And content is — I'm just gonna say it — harder to create, harder to do well, and harder to do regularly than you think. 

No matter how hard you think it is, it's harder than that. So, anybody out there selling a program that claims to make it easy, or is out there tweeting about how they started up their content mill and made like a million in three months — they can come at me. I'm @lettereleven on Twitter. I know they’re selling something short or hiding the hard work under a slick exterior.

What is the goal of this type of site?

Knowledge leadership sites are about distributing information, but unlike informative sites, they rely on renewable, ever-changing resources. So, their goal is variety, excitement, and getting users to both dig deep and return over and over. 

What should you focus on when creating a knowledge leadership site?

For knowledge leadership sites, content is king, and the user’s appetite for ever-changing information is what we’re looking to satisfy. What’s important? Content strategy, content creation, rock-solid editorial process, marketing campaigns and newsletters, and a great CMS. Design and UX are functional here, not flashy most of the time.

So, for a site like this:

  • You spend time on writers.
  • You spend time on content strategy and process that's repeatable.
  • You spend time measuring what's working and what’s getting people to the site.
  • You dive into SEO and dig into what audiences want to read and how they want to read it.

TLDR: If we’re creating a knowledge leadership site, we’re focusing on content — writing and imagery — as well as organization, user journey, and CMS technology to make it easy for users to find what they need and client teams to keep pumping out new content for those users to consume. 

Wait — aren’t there other types of sites too? Indeed. Check out the master article here.

Interested in partnering with Edgar Allan on a web design, brand, or content design project? Get in contact with us today.

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