Content Every EDO Website's 'Living Here' Section Should HaveTuesday, May 16, 2017
Creating Content for your Economic Development Organization: Living Here section
Knowing what content to include on your website can be just as important as how the site looks during the website building process. Many website design companies offer to develop and organize the content for your site as an additional service, but this can come at a large price.
Doing it yourself can save you a lot of money, but it’s not as simple as throwing a few words on the page and leaving it up to the customer to figure out how to navigate your website. You want to carefully structure your website’s content so that it is intuitive, easy to quickly understand, and acts as a spokesperson for your economic development organization and region.
To help guide you through the process, we have created a breakdown of how to organize the content on your site and descriptions of what to include in each section.
Before you sit down and start writing, you want to map a basic outline of how your website’s information should be structured. As author and content marketing expert, Ann Hadley, once wrote, “the more the think, the easier the ink.”
Creating a content sitemap will help you list your EDO’s main focus areas as top level menus followed by more detailed navigation. Economic development organization’s site are commonly arranged into four main categories:
Everything else included on your economic development’s website will likely branch off one of these categories.
In this blog, we will explore what pages and sub-pages should make up an EDO's Living Here section. As you go through each section, you will find a hyperlink and an image, showing one of our favorite websites that incorporates the best practice or content we are discussing.
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Part of attracting new businesses and employees is to show others what your area offers outside the hours of 9-5.
The “living section” of your EDO’s website gives the reader a sense of where they “fit” in the community. Everyone is different, so certain things may not appeal to everyone. This is your opportunity to showcase that your region has a little something for everyone.
What are unique qualities about your town, city or region? Do they offer family-friendly amenities, schools, and housing? Does it give you a small-town feel in a big city or vice versa?
What does your community put value in? Vermillion Economic Development has a site that shows this very well.
To determine this, it is important to understand who currently lives in your region. You can use demographic statistics and surveys to help you paint a portrait of who lives there. Your city may have a lot of recent post-grads that are attracted to the job opportunities available right out of school, the nightlife scene or the availability of outdoor activities. Or you could have a lot of young families that like the small town feel of the area without sacrificing access to entertainment and amenities. Your city could have a little bit of everything.
Create a personality for your region by looking at who already lives there.
Trying to encapsulate your home onto a single web page can seem like a disservice. So you don’t sell your city or region short, consider including the following lifestyle information on your EDO’s website.
When businesses or people are considering moving to another area, often one of the first things researched is the cost of living and how it compares to other places. This is a good opportunity to optimize your SEO and provide useful data to anyone comparing costs. By including common search terms like “how much does it cost to live in your city?” or “average cost of living in Utopia City?” you will become the go-to site for people doing research on your region – leading to more opportunities for you to sell visitors on why your area is the best.
Your ‘Cost of Living’ page can include up-to-date numbers on the average prices of shelter, transportation, fuel, food, medical care, utilities, and any other day-to-day expenses relevant to your location.
You can also add some benchmarks on how you compare to similar cities or towns.
The Sports and Recreation page of your site can cover everything from professional sports teams, hiking and biking trails, local, state and national parks, and other outdoor activities or attractions. We’re big fans of how Choose Santa Cruz handles this section of their site.
This section can be summed up with the question, “what do you do for fun in your area?”
What hobbies or activities do people or groups take interest in?
Just make sure it’s recreational and can be distinguished from our next section, Arts and Culture.
Arts, Culture, and Attractions
Arts, Culture, and Attractions is a very flexible category that you can organize depending on what is most relevant to your area. The following breakdown below is a common way of grouping topics together under this subject, but feel free to break the mold and combine subjects that relate to each other in a unique way.
Music and theater venues, fine arts galleries, and science museums are great to include in this section.
Here, you can tell the reader what the culture or cultures are like. Those in your area might like to live particularly healthy lifestyles or bike everywhere. What are some things your residents take a common interest in?
Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership (Greater MSP) is a great example of this. On their site, Healthy Living is a tab all on its own. Why? Because they rank one of the best in the country in terms of health, fitness, and overall activity according to multiple surveys and sources. And how do we know this? Because they say it right on their website (with credible sources, of course).
What is something your region is particularly good at or known for? Be creative.
You may have a bustling street lined with boutiques and restaurants or be the home to a large shopping center. Side streets filled with small and creative businesses can be just as desirable to being near a lot of commercial retailers. Danville, PA, has an engaging page that shares what is going on in their town and where to go to shop and eat.
Are there a lot of different food and restaurant options available? Or maybe you are renowned for one specific type of food or ethnic cuisine. Detail the different options available for foodies and shopaholics alike.
‘Shopping and Food’ can be in its own section or included under ‘Arts and Culture.’
Entertainment and Events
Entertainment and Events will most likely not be a menu tab on its own, but rather, a subsection within Arts and Culture. However, if your sitemap does not include an Arts and Culture section by design, Entertainment and Events can exist on its own.
Venues and attractions such as sports teams and stadiums, festivals, concert halls, museums, etc. can be highlighted in this section as well.
Be mindful not to include the same information in two different sections, such as listing sports teams in ‘Entertainment and Events’ and ‘Sports and Recreation.’ If you are having trouble with redundancy, consider consolidating sections.
Upcoming entertainment and events are a great way to get interest and traffic to your site. Highlighting new events and entertainment is an easy tactic for consistently creating new content for your website.
List the available educational institutions within your region or nearby. You can start with K-12 and work up to secondary schooling or the other way around.
Or, If your region is renowned for its world-class research universities or has some of the best K-12 schools in the country, start with that. Be sure to include any trade schools, STEM programs or private institutions.
Focus on any particularly interesting facts as well as listing all of the available schooling options.
For an added bonus, you can also list statistics related to the number of graduates entering the workforce along with their field of study.
An involved community is an active community. Philanthropic giving, whether that means time or money, uplifts the entire community. A caring and giving community is something to be proud of. Once again, we like how Greater MSP has this section of their website set up.
Many business and people include philanthropy in their core values. Depending on what kind of information is available, you can list facts such as how many hours people volunteer each year, the number of nonprofits involved in the community, or the amount of donations received each year for philanthropic causes.
Civic engagement is another sign of involved community with a strong social fabric. Communities that work together politically and non-politically improve the conditions for all. What are the residents in your community doing to make the quality of life better?
Is an overall healthy lifestyle promoted in your region? Are the exemplary health care facilities or any special practices in the health industry to highlight?
This can be an area to get a little creative. For example, Santa Cruz, CA, is known as one of the healthiest and fittest regions. They use this as an opportunity to highlight all of their outdoor activities available to residents. They then take it one step further by noting that it is also the least stressful metropolitan city. This wouldn’t necessarily be an obvious fact address. But by doing so, they build an extra layer of intrigue to the region.
While not exactly the same as real estate in the Business section of your website, you can list similar information regarding where potential residents can find housing and real estate.
Both WDCEP (Above) and Grow Alpharetta (Below) have interesting takes on housing and their neighborhoods.
If your area has lower than average real estate, this could be a good opportunity to reiterate that fact.
This is a good time to remind you that you can add links to other resources if you are not the reliable source for a certain topic. If there is service that can provide better guidance on housing or anything else for that matter, redirect your visitor’s interested in gaining more information.
A Visitors section for your EDO’s website may not be essential to have, as your entire site should act as a brochure for visitors, but if you feel that it is big function of your site, absolutely include it.
You can list hotel and dining accommodations, shopping, events, must-see attractions, and more!
Why “Living Here” Matters
Your “Living Here” section and web pages may just be the most important part of your website. A community that offers more than just a place to do business will attract families and workers looking for a place to call home. A high quality of life can be a huge selling point for your economic development organization. Recreation, shopping, schools, arts, events are all things that entice prospective business and families to relocate to your area and are signs of a thriving economy.
Most or all of the information regarding these subjects can be included, but how you organize it is ultimately up to you.
For example, to consolidate the information, Charles County Economic Development segmented their ‘Life in Charles’ menu tab into five sections as shown in the picture below. Take note of the ‘Do, Eat & Play’ option. They include all different types of information on art and culture within this section so that it is easy for visitors to discover and learn about all of the different options available.
Conversely, Minneapolis St. Paul’s EDO takes a slightly different approach, offering a more dissected breakdown of navigation options within their ‘Living Here’ menu drop down. Instead, they decided topics like sports and recreation, and art and culture would be better if they were separated, presumably so site visitors can easily to find the information they are interested in.
No one way is necessarily better than the other. Greater MSP covers 16 counties and has multiple professional sports teams and a vibrant arts culture. As a result, they felt each deserved its own spotlight.
Charles County, on the other hand, has a much smaller geography to cover, and can highlight their main attractions without sacrificing something being overlooked. Sometimes less is more. You don’t have to list it all. Instead, you can use pictures, quick stats, infographics, etc. and encourage visitors to learn more by clicking links or references.
Carefully think about how you want to convey the most important information and how it should be organized. Showcase your strengths. They are going to be different than every other EDO and unique to you. The key is to make a website that represents home.
By including the following information throughout this blog on your Key Industries pages, your EDO will have a beautiful website packed with helpful, informative, and persuasive content.
While including all of this will give you a well-rounded website, we encourage you to take one more look at your EDO, and what you would like your target audience to know. Review all of your information and decide if there is anything more you can include about yourselves or the region.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this blog! We hope you found it helpful.
For everything on how to write content for your EDO, all in one place, download How to Write Content for your Economic Development Organization now.