Every business that invests in content marketing, whether that be in blogging, videos, or podcasting, needs to have a learning centre on their website. But what is a learning centre? And how does it work?
What’s a Learning Centre?
Have you ever come across a Learning Centre on someone’s website? Maybe, just like on our website, you may have spotted a menu item called ‘Learn‘.
The term Learning Centre is something we originally picked up from Marcus Sheridan, author of They Ask You Answer. Since then, we’ve not only built one on our website, but we’ve created Learning Centres for our clients too.
First thing first, what’s a Learning Centre?
With the information all in one place, it becomes really easy for your website visitors to find your content and consume it in the way they prefer. Literally, at the click of a button.
If you regularly create any type of content (be it blog posts, podcast episodes, videos, PDFs, etc.), you’ll need a Learning Centre.
Problems with a Blog
A website blog in the traditional sense is a page on your website that houses all of your written content. It’s a fantastic way for you to generate traffic to your site and show your visitors how knowledgeable you are. However, when it comes to accessibility and relevancy of content, a website blog poses a few problems.
1. Your latest piece of content isn’t always relevant to your website visitors
If someone lands on your website today and clicks on your blog, they might see a blog post about a topic that’s relevant and interesting to them. But someone else who happens to find your website on the same day might feel that your latest article isn’t helpful.
And what do you think they’re going to do when that happens?
Sadly, they’ll never find out that only a few weeks prior you had published something that was exactly what they were after!
Because of the way a blog is set up, you (the business owner) cannot pick and choose what type of content is displayed when you want it to. Different visitors may want different information from your website. And because your website blog displays your content in reverse chronological order, it may not always be easy for your readers to find posts that are relevant to them.
2. People don’t like clicking through lots of pages
As much as we’d like to think that our website visitors will click onto the next available page of our blog until they find what they’re looking for, the reality is that not many people will do that.
Think about it. When you’re online, do you ever click on the second or third page of the Google search results?
And if people don’t take the time to wade through pages of content when it comes to Google, are they likely to do that on your website? Chances are they might miss that epic piece of content that you took weeks to create and is now collecting dust on the fourth page of your blog, where no one will see it.
3. Older posts don’t tend to perform as well
People presume that older posts are less accurate. This is something that’s been shown over and over again. When you type something into Google and see results from 2014, you’re not likely to click on them. Not if you have the option to access something that was produced later.
You may have content on your blog that’s evergreen and still relevant. But people will just assume that because it’s older it’s not as accurate. And they will skip through that.
4. You can’t showcase your best content
The other problem you have with a blog is that it doesn’t allow you to showcase your best content.
We know what our best content is. And we also know what content drives people to get in touch with us. But with a typical website blog that displays your content in reverse chronological order, your prospective customers and clients aren’t able to access your best content unless you organise it differently.
And this is where a Learning Centre would come in handy and solve all of these issues.
Should a Learning Centre replace your blog?
We’ve given you so many reasons why a blog in the traditional sense doesn’t do your content much justice, that you’re now probably thinking you should swap out menu items and have a Learning Centre instead of a blog.
No, you shouldn’t.
Please keep your blog.
Do not get rid of your blog under any circumstances.
And here’s why.
Yes, a blog might display your content in reverse chronological order, but people still access content via your blog because a blog is what they know. A Learning Centre, on the other hand, is still a new concept to a lot of people. If you swap your blog out for something that a lot of your visitors haven’t heard of before, you may not get as many clicks on your content. And you don’t want that.
So keep your blog in the main menu item, and then find a place to put a Learning Centre page as well. If you don’t want to call it Learning Centre, ‘Learning Zone‘, ‘Learn‘, or ‘Information Centre‘ are also good alternatives. Whatever you want to call it, as long as you use it as a way for your visitors to access your content in a nice, easy-to-use way, you’ve got one.
To give you an idea of how we encourage our visitors to use our Learning Centre on our website, have a look at our Home Page. As you scroll down it says ‘Visit our Learning Centre’, and it links to our blog, our videos, and our articles.
How do you create your own Learning Centre?
The answer will be slightly different according to what it is that you do. The Learning Centre page for an e-commerce shop will be different from a service provider’s, for example.
But all learning centre’s should be:
- Give people content in a way they like to consume it.
- Easy for people to filter through your content.
You can create a learning centre based on what your target audience needs and what you offer, but here are some examples of what you can include.
1. The search field
This is the single most important element of a Learning Centre. A search field is a place where your readers can type in a word or a phrase to find out more information about a specific topic.
When your readers search for something in this field, they’ll be returned with all the relevant pieces of content that relate to that topic. This doesn’t just include blog posts. If you have podcast episodes or video content on your website, this can be displayed as well.
From a design point of view, your search field is the biggest part of your Learning Centre. It’s right there at the top of the page, or ‘above the fold’ as we say. You don’t want people to miss it.
Plus, it’s a great handy feature for you as the business owner. We use it all the time to quickly find our own content and signpost people to it!
Example of a Learning Centre search field
We can’t talk about a learning centre without, of course, talking about Marcus Sheridan. On his company website, River Pools, he provides the reader with everything they’ll need to make an informed buying decision when buying a pool. For people to search through all his content (and there’s a lot of it), River Pools provides an easy search field. You can even use it to filter down by resource or topic.
2. Links to popular topics
Another element you want to include in your Learning Centre page are links to popular topics.
Let’s say someone is browsing your website, but they don’t yet know what you do and how you help people. Sure, you have a search field at the top of the page, but at this stage, they’re not entirely sure what they should be searching for.
So how can you help your users?
You can help by giving them some prompts.
And you do that through the links to popular content you provide.
Example of links to popular topics on a Learning Centre
This is a great example of a learning centre for an ecommerce website by Picture Frames Express.
They break down their learning centre by particular topics, which the customer or potential customer can easily sift through. It’s all their helpful information in one place.
3. The ‘Most Common Questions’ section
This is the bit where you answer the questions that people ask you on a regular basis. Having some of the answers on this page means that when someone decides to get in touch with you, they’re already familiar with the way you work. It’s a bit like the self-serve checkout! It’s great for your users, and it saves you time.
If you don’t yet have a lot of content on your website, consider using an FAQ plugin or an accordion-type setup to display your most common questions. That way, when a reader clicks on the question, the website just shows them the answer with a couple of lines of text.
Example of ‘Most Common Questions’ on a Learning Centre
Rachel from All Things Inc has over 1250 blog posts teaching people all about internal communications. Rachel joined our membership community, Make Your Mark Online, and made use of our free, plugin, learning centre template. We LOVE what she’s done. Especially the section ‘Most Common Questions’. She answers each question on this section with a link to an in-depth article. Really helpful stuff.
Example of ‘Most Common Questions’ on a Learning Centre
Another great example of this is from Debbie Ekins who produces amazing content for Eagle Leisure, a hot tub and spa supplier. Eagle Leisure answer their readers’ most common questions with links to blog posts and videos – an amazing way of delivering excellent customer service.
4. Give people access to the different types of content you provide
Do you offer content in a variety of different formats? For example, do you share articles on your blog but also have a podcast or a series of videos? Then give people the choice to consume your content in whichever way they prefer.
The worst thing you can do on your website is to just show the content in one format (or in the format that you prefer) because that may not be the way some of your prospective customers or clients like to consume it. Some people prefer video. Others prefer reading. And vice versa.
Example of ‘Most Common Questions’ on a Learning Centre
On our website, we offer our readers the opportunity to consume our content in different ways. Now, this sounds like a lot of work, but we actually repurpose a lot of our content into different formats. For example, this blog post was previously a podcast episode!
5. Include links to recent content
Another element you might want to include on your learning Centre page is recent content. So, for example, you could include links to your three most recent posts, podcast episodes, or videos.
This isn’t always necessary, especially if you already have a lot of content. But if you’re still building your content library, this is definitely a nice-to-have.
Example of ‘Most Recent Content’ on a Learning Centre
We loved designing Superfast IT’s website. They provide IT support to business and have so much helpful content on their website. They list their most recent blog articles on their learning centre, encouraging people to click through.
This is a section where you can add any guides, tools, or resources you want people to be able to access. So if you have any free giveaways, this is the place to showcase them on your website. Otherwise, your visitors might miss them. This is a great opportunity for you to add value to your readers but also potentially build your email list.
Example of ‘Free Resources’ on a Learning Centre
We love Yva’s learning centre over at Content Boost. Yva uses her reading resources as lead capture tools on her learning centre page. The design is fab, and it’s really easy to access them all in one place.
Your Best Resources
By selecting your best resources, you’re directing your reader to your best converting content. This could be more information about how you work or a particular product. Of course, it’s got to be helpful, but it’s a good idea to highlight these pieces of content.
Sara also joined our membership community, and made use of our free, plugin, learning centre template. We love how she’s highlighted her best resources here. Her blog post series, advising people how to batch write their blog posts, is so helpful! But she’s also featured information about why you should hire Sara, and more about podcast repurposing (a service Sara offers). This is a smart way of offering helpful content that also sells you at the same time.
Would you like a FREE Learning Centre template?
As most of you know, we run a monthly membership called Make Your Mark Online (or MYMO for short). This is our signature membership community where we help personal brands build and grow a successful business website.
Recently, we’ve done something really special for our members. We built them a Learning Centre template free of charge that they can just plug into their website and customise to match their branding and preferences. It literally takes two minutes to do this. And of course, we have a video inside our membership walking our members through how to set it all up, step-by-step.
If you’re interested in becoming a member, the doors for the membership are currently open! It’s been amazing to see so many of our members get great results with their websites since they joined in October last year. So if you want to find out more, check out our membership, and we’ll see you on the inside!
Over to you
Have you ever heard of a learning centre before? Is this something you’ll consider doing now? We’d love to know your thoughts!