It’s really all about user engagement and experience. And for visitors to a website to be engaged and have a great experience, it takes amazing content, married to an equally amazing design. Further, the two must be compatible.
For example, you would certainly not expect a website that offers kids’ toys to be designed in blacks and golds, with fancy scripted fonts and sophisticated vocabulary. No. You would expect that of a website for a product like Rolex watches. The toy website would be in primary colors with printed fonts that even might look like kids’ printing. And the content style and tone would be simple, as will the vocabulary.
The Chicken or the Egg?
Because both content and design will portray a brand’s image, they must really be developed with each other in mind. But people disagree upon which comes first. Designers will often say they cannot create a design until they see the content; content writers will often say they cannot craft the content until they see the design. So, who is right? In most instances, the designer is.
The content strategy should probably be developed first because it will provide the information a designer needs. Now be mindful that content strategy is not the content itself. It is the conceptual principles around which content will be written.
What a Content Strategy Looks Like
Begin by answering some questions:
- Who is your audience? This will include such things as gender, age, socio-economic bracket, education level, etc. – in other words, a pretty complete picture of the typical person who wants or needs your product or service. The audience for Rolex watches will be far different than one for subscription-based disposable razors, even though both are male.
- What type of content will engage your audience? This speaks to tone and style, and a designer must understand this in order to create a visually-appealing website that is compatible with that tone and style. It will impact the layout, the fonts, the colors, and much more.
- What are the messages that content will convey? Which are the most important, which are least, and which are in-between? This will impact where on the website these messages appear, especially as designers determine pages, navigation, and links. The most important message will obviously be on the landing page and maybe repeated elsewhere.
- What conversions are you looking for? Obviously, the ultimate conversion is a purchase, but there may be intermediate conversions (providing an email address for a newsletter subscription, for example). Each of these conversions will involve CTA buttons or forms, and the designer must understand each conversion in order to use the right buttons and format.
- Message Length/Type: Some messages will be longer than others; some will include specific visuals or videos. You may have a story to tell on your “About Us” page, along with photos of your team, etc. You may have very short messages that speak to the value of your product or service. Look at a couple of these from Rolex:
CONFIGURE YOUR ROLEX
Rolex watches are crafted from the finest raw materials and assembled with scrupulous attention to detail. Every component is designed, developed and produced in-house to the most exacting standards.
Rolex offers a wide range of models ranging from professional to classic watches to suit any wrist. Explore the Rolex collection by selecting your favorite models, materials, bezels, dials, and bracelets to find the watch that was made for you.
Each of these messages is followed by images of various watches – obviously, those images are key parts of the message as well. The designer must understand the length and type of each message, and its prioritization in order to design individual pages.
Once a content strategy is clearly developed, it must obviously be shared with the web designer, so that s/he may begin working up a wireframe and the details of various pages. Now he can consider such things as font, color, and other details. He has a good start point
Developing the Content
Obviously, content must be engaging, but it must also fit the audience and provide value. Content is produced for website pages, blogs, and social media, but the purpose of the blog and social media content is ultimately to drive consumers to the website where the real action is. “Our blog and social media posts have a dual purpose,” states Carol Hampton, Marketing Director for Grab My Essay, “We want to engage and provide value, of course, but we want our visitors and followers to link to our website pages to explore how we can meet their writing needs.”
Many businesses have their own content writing departments. Many do not, because they are small to mid-sized companies that use contracted freelancers from such sites as Freelancer.com or Upwork. Still, others find that finding and using a single writing service, like Trust My Paper, Best Essay Education, or a word counter that will help keep track of the number of sentences and paragraphs. Because they can provide their content strategy upfront and know that it will be a factor in site content that is produced.
Many businesses have their own content writing departments. Many do not, because they are small to mid-sized companies that use contracted freelancers from such sites as Freelancer.com or Upwork. Still, others find that finding and using a single writing service, like Trust My Paper, Best Essay Education or a word counter that will help keep track of the number of sentences and paragraphs. Because they can provide their content strategy upfront and know that it will be a factor in site content that is produced.
Delivering Content to the Designer
The final step. Optimally, the designer has a workup of pages, layouts, content templates based upon potential word count, recommended colors, fonts, etc. At this point, the actual content must be delivered so that he can modify page layouts, set about the links, the forms, the CTA’s, purchasing and checkout process, etc. He now has clear directions for finishing the design.
At this point, deep communication begins between the business owner and designer. And content writers should be involved whenever necessary. For example, the business owner may decide that some chunks of content are just too long. They need to be broken up and that will impact the initial content template layouts as well. This is a back and forth process until the final website thrills the owner.
In the End…
The critical correlation between a content strategy and website design means that a brand presents an image that is consistent, compelling, and that provides an amazing user experience. A content strategy must first be developed, because, without it, a designer cannot begin the creative process that results in bringing everything together.
More on this topic: Does Your Web Design Align With These Latest Trends?