Too much of a good thing: How to prevent content overload

People are busy. Highlight your best content so you don't overwhelm website visitors.

People are busy. Highlight your best content so you don’t overwhelm website visitors.

Which seems less daunting:

“See our 10 most popular blog posts”

–or –

“See all of our 1,698 blog posts”


Let me guess. You chose the first one, right?

People are busy and they want information that’s helpful. Reading through a list of 10 blog posts is going to take much less time than sifting through 1,698 of them. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to archive most of your posts or reduce the frequency of your posts. If you highlight your best work, you can still keep your library of content without overwhelming your visitors.

Hopefully by now you’ve identified what kind of content is “evergreen” and “time-sensitive” and a plan for archiving the time-sensitive pieces (if not, you have a little work to do to catch up, but that’s ok – you’ll get there!).

You may have some categories of evergreen content that has a lot of resources or articles in it. In this case, it’s important to highlight the most recent and/or most popular pieces of content so visitors don’t have to sort through a long list.

For example, let’s say you offer classroom activities to improve early childhood development and every year you add 20 new activities. At this rate, the list will get long very quickly. Arranging them by date or in alphabetical order will help keep the activities organized, but it can still be overwhelming to sort through so many activities. To help out your visitors, at the top of the page showcase your five most popular activities, or highlight the two most recent ones.


To do:

You have several options to make it easier for your website visitors to navigate long lists of content:

  • Highlight the most recently added resources or articles at the top of the list
  • Highlight the most popular resources or articles at the top of the list (look in your analytics to find out which content is most popular)
  • Create a hybrid of “featured” resources or articles that includes a few of your most popular pieces of content, as well as some that were recently added.
  • Write a blog post of your top 5 or 10 most popular resources in a particular category
  • Create multiple ways to sort your content

Note: Besides writing a blog post to highlight your top articles, you will likely have to work with your web designer to implement the rest of the suggestions. These will be relatively small changes that will make a big improvement in your site, and are worth the investment! Plus, if you have your web designer help you with the changes, it will help save a lot of time in the future because the feature will be built in to your content management system.

Warning: You may be turning people away before you talk to them

If your contact information includes an “info” email address, a contact form, and/or a phone number that takes people through multiple prompts before reaching a real person, you’re likely turning people away.

If your contact information includes an “info” email address, a contact form, and/or a phone number with multiple prompts, you’re likely turning people away.

“Hello. You’ve reached the Wildlife Conservatory. Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed. For hours, press 1. For directions, press 2. For volunteer opportunities, press 3. For information on photography permits, press 4. For special events, press 5. For all other inquiries, treat yourself to an ice cream cone because you’ll be much happier than being on hold for 40 minutes listening to a 30-second clip of elevator music on repeat.”

I hate those menu options too. They drive me nuts.

If your contact information includes an “info” email address, a contact form, and/or a phone number that takes people through multiple prompts before reaching a real person, you’re likely turning people away.

People don’t trust “info” email addresses and contact forms because they don’t think they’re sending an email to a real person. Often, they’d rather leave the site than spend their time writing a message that they think will never be read or responded to.

Similarly with a phone number that leads people through multiple prompts, I can’t think of anyone who’d rather listen to those prompts than talk to a real person. Even if they stick it out through the prompts, they may be annoyed by the time they talk to someone at your organization. This is not the first impression you want them to have.


To do:

For your email address, you have several options:

  1. If there is one person who answers the emails that go to your “info” email address, put their email on your “Contact us” page instead. People are more likely to trust an email that’s going to “” than “”
  2. If you have multiple people checking the “info” email address or contact form submissions, it may not make sense to change it to one person’s email. On your contact page, reassure them that someone will reply to their email and let them know how quickly they can expect a reply.
  3. Include contact information for specific requests such as media inquiries, information about your services, and volunteer opportunities. Your audience will be happy to send an email directly to the appropriate person. This also reduces the amount of emails to the “info” address that need to be sorted through. Make the “info” email address available as a last resort if their request doesn’t fall neatly into the main categories.

For your phone prompts, take a look at your call volume and types of inquiries you receive. Review these questions:

How many calls do you receive on a daily basis? If you receive a significant number of calls, it’s likely worth it to have prerecorded messages for your frequently asked questions and/or prompts to send callers directly to the staff person who can answer certain questions. If you only receive a few calls per day, you might consider eliminating the prompts and assign one person to answer calls.

For prerecorded messages, do you update them on a regular basis? If not, you may be confusing your callers. Either make sure someone is assigned to update the recordings frequently, or eliminate the recordings altogether.

Can you consolidate any of your prompts? For example, the hours, location, and parking information could likely be one message.

Are there any prompts you should eliminate? For example, if you have a prerecorded message for volunteer opportunities, you’re missing the chance to connect with potential volunteers one-on-one and find a project that meets their skills and interests. Or let’s say you have a prerecorded message with information about photography permits, but you still get a lot of people who want to speak to a live person about that topic. Perhaps your message doesn’t have enough information, or it might be a topic that people need to ask specific questions which requires talking to an actual person.

Do you need to include the sentence, “Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed”? Do the same people call so frequently that they actually have your menu options memorized? If not, this explanation may not be necessary.

Why you shouldn’t blend social media icons with your site design


Make sure your social media icons stand out – not blend in – so they’re easy to find.

“We created these beautiful social media icons that blend in with the design of our site, but we hardly get any new followers :(”

What do you think is going on in this scenario? Take a look at the above sentence again. Anything catch your attention?

…blend in.

If you want people to see something, it needs to stand out! While icons that are small or that blend in with the site will look aesthetically pleasing, you won’t be achieving your goal of getting more followers. People are used to seeing the icons, and may even be looking for them. So make sure they’re easy to find!


To do:

  • Make sure your social media icons are clearly visible at the top of your page, as well as in the footer.
  • Get a widget (like AddThis) that floats your social media icons at the top of the page as the user scrolls down.
  • Increase the size of the social media icons (to a reasonable size, of course – you still don’t want to be obnoxious!).
  • Make sure there is plenty of white space around the icons so they are easily visible and don’t get drowned out by clutter on the rest of your site.
  • If your social media icons blend in with the design of your site, switch them to icons that use the traditional colors instead (e.g. blue for Facebook, red for Pinterest, etc.).

5 tools to make infographics without hiring a designer

Everyone loves to share infographics. They’re a great tool to get your message across quickly in a way that’s easy to understand.

While hiring a pro is ideal, sometimes you have a tight budget or a short time frame and working with a graphic designer isn’t always possible.

That’s where these tools come in handy. All you need is some compelling information and an eye for design in order to create beautiful infographics on your own.


1. Piktochart

Use this tool to create beautiful infographics, reports, banners, or presentations. Start from a blank template, use one of their free templates, or upgrade to pro themes. Use their graphics or import your own in their drag-and-drop tool. Get access to the best features for $29/month.

Infographic Piktochart




This easy-to-use web tool helps you visualize many different kinds of concepts and ideas. While it does have some chart tools, I think this tool is better suited for other kinds of visualizations. The free account includes 60 images and 10 fonts. Upgrade to pro for only $3/month.

Infographic Easelly


3. Tableau Public

This desktop app is great for visualizing data sets. Infographics using their free version can be shared via email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and/or embedded on your site. Upgrade to save it on your own computer and to integrate with more data programs.

Infographic Tableau Public

Tableau Public



This tool has a lot of chart options and is great to work on projects with a team. Integrate with Google Analytics and Google Sheets to create infographics, charts, and maps. Upgrades from the free account start at $15/month.

Infographic Infogram


5. Vengage

This web tool has a lot of sophisticated templates for the user that’s looking for more advanced features to really customize your content. There are free templates and icons available, and premium plans start at $19/month.

Infographic Vengage


How to get one-time web visitors to take action

Before your website visitors leave, invite them to come back. Build a relationship before asking them to take action.

Before your website visitors leave, invite them to come back. Build a relationship before asking them to take action.

You may not be able to get your website visitors to donate, volunteer, or register for an event the first time they visit your page – these are big things to ask people to do. Signing up for an e-newsletter or following you on social media is a much smaller commitment. Once they get to know you, they will be more likely to commit to something more.

“But I want people to stay on my website foreverrrr.”

Yes, I do too. People will have to leave your site eventually, but before they leave, invite them to subscribe to your e-mail list or follow you on social media so you can invite them to come back. Then you can start building a relationship and the next time you ask your audience to do something they will be more likely to take action.


To do:

Take a look at your top exit pages in the last couple of months. These are great pages to add a pop-up to sign up for your e-newsletter or follow you on social media because you have nothing to lose. The worst that can happen is that people will leave your site – which is what they are doing anyway! If you can gather email addresses or increase your social media following in the process, this is a win for you.

Check with your email program to see if they have pop-up codes you can add to your site. This is a great way to get started. You can also check out these programs that offer advanced features such as A/B testing, customizable templates, and analytics:

  • Sumome
  • Screenpopper
  • Pop-up domination


E-newsletter vs. social media

In each pop-up, only ask for ONE thing. Subscribing to your e-newsletter or following you on social media are small, easy tasks your audience can do right away. So which one should you choose?

I recommend building your e-newsletter list. Having followers on social media is great, but email is one of the best tools for reaching your audience for most situations. You’ll also be able to reach a wider audience – not everyone is active on social media networks, but most people have an email account they check regularly.

The only exceptions are if you know your audience is very active on a particular social media network, or one of your communication goals is to increase your following on a social media channel. Even so, I still think collecting email addresses will be much more valuable in the long-run.


Advanced tip:

Create customized pop-ups for different sections of your website.

For example, let’s say your organization runs a summer camp for children with muscular dystrophy. One of your top exit pages is the “About the camp” page and another is “Volunteer opportunities.”

For the “About the camp page,” you could target your pop-up to parents and feature one or two testimonials from previous campers with an invitation to learn more.

For the “Volunteer opportunities” page, you could feature a testimonial from a past volunteer or camper and let them know they can also make a difference.

Simple steps to archive outdated content

Keep older articles that are the most popular and archive the rest.

Keep older articles that are the most popular and archive the rest.

Have you ever looked up contact information from a 20-year-old Yellow Pages directory?

I didn’t think so.

And why not? Because the information is probably outdated. A lot has happened since then: businesses have added new locations, moved, gone out of business, and new ones have sprung up.

A lot has happened with your organization since then too. In the digital age, 20- or even 10-year-old content is ancient history. When you first established your website, you were likely looking for anything and everything to post, and this could have included information, resources, and stories from the 90’s. Think about it: that’s 20+ years ago now – an entire new generation has come of age since then!

Your website shouldn’t be the database for every article, story, press release, video, etc. that was produced by your organization. It should be a showcase of your best work. Sometimes this may include information that’s a few years old, but you do need to have a system for archiving dated material.


To do:

1. Identify evergreen content. These are the best pieces you want to showcase: information about your organization, a collection of stories and resources that never get old, studies your organization did that are often cited, etc. This content will need to be refreshed from time to time (if your most recent success story is 8 years old, people will be wondering if you’ve lost your charm!), but for the most part you shouldn’t have to update these pieces of content too often. This should be a fairly short list – remember, you want to showcase you best work, not everything you’ve ever done.

2. Identify content that will get dated quickly. This includes time-sensitive announcements (such as a new staff member joining the team), information about events, blog posts and resources related to current events, and e-newsletter archives.

3. Decide how old is “too old” for your content. The time frame depends on how much content you produce and how time-sensitive your materials are. You may have different time frames for each category of content. For example, you may archive your past e-newsletters after six months but keep your success stories for as long as four years.

4. Look at the statistics for your content in the past year. This can help you decide how long to keep your content. If people have mostly visited your stories from the past two years, then that might be a good marker. If only two people have visited your e-newsletter archives, perhaps you don’t even need to include them on your website at all. Looking into your analytics can also help you find older content that is still popular. If an older article or resource is still bringing a lot of traffic to your site, make an exception to your “dated content” rule.

5. Create a plan to archive your content. Who is responsible for archiving? What are the steps to archive content? Which content needs to be archived, and when?