The Truth About Design and Content

Written on 8 June 2018 by Sara Da Silva

Why The Battle Between Designers and Content Creators is over.

After constant back and forth, the battle between design and content must end. People have been bickering about which comes first and which is more important. I’ve had enough. I’m ending this debate.

Scrambled Eggs

A few of our clients, past and present, contain separated, and isolated, content and design teams. Content writers state that they require some basic designs first, before content can be written, whilst designers want content, or at least a general idea, first before the design process begins. Realistically, which should come first? 

Feeling Content With The Content

Should you create content and design around it?

From a design perspective content should come first, because a lack of content can limit designs, causing them to be generic. However, with content put into place, designers are able to create bespoke designs, fitting for the purpose of the website. For instance, if the content involves a mass amount of videos, then the design would need to revolve around a template built for video. Similarly, heavily word based content would result in a theme or design being chosen accordingly.

Surely then, as the content dictates the design, content must come first?

It’s What’s On The Outside That Counts

Should you create a captivating design and fit the content within?

Opposing the previous view, content writers would argue that by design being created first, even at a basic level, it can set up much needed restraints for content, giving writers a foundation for their content, and acts as a guideline for what needs to be written.

Taking A Vegan Approach

Whilst many people either take a chicken or egg stance, I believe the analogy is too basic to be used to describe the process of, and collaboration between, creating content and design. I argue that you should disregard the chicken and the egg, and bring a third contender into the mix: Concept.

It can be argued that content and design is dependant on what you aim to achieve. First and foremost, concept comes first: what are you selling? Who is the audience? What is the message you are looking to put across? Once decided, content and design can be formed collaboratively. With collaboration being the key.

Through audits conducted for many of our clients we concluded that, rather than working in silos, there should be a strong level of communication, and plenty of back and forth between all teams.

Is Beauty Only Screen Deep?

Bad content can make a good design look pointless, however, a poor design can overpower great content. So, the question is posed, which is more important?

A Book Judged By It’s Content

We are currently in the process of having new blinds installed in our office. Why am I telling you this? You’ll see.

Unsurprisingly, on my quest to find a suitable company to carry out the work, I searched for “London Blinds” on Google, and how many pages do you imagine I wanted to search through? Not many. I am, after all, an impatient millennial. So, after receiving countless quotes, we have chosen a company that was featured on the first page of Google. And, what allows a website to appear on the first pages of search engines? Content.

Even the most stunning design in the world could not save a website filled with poor content, and it certainly would not encourage repeat customers. Take Craigslist for example, it’s as visually appealing as watching paint dry, but that does not stop it from being a household name. Why? Its content.

“The use of high quality, education-based content has become an essential ingredient in creating awareness, building trust, converting leads, serving customers and generating referrals.”

– John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing

A Booked Judged By Its Cover

Yes, a website filled with meagre content is unlikely to attract recurring visitors. However, in a world filled with increasing choice and competition, a website can only get away with having a poor design if the product or service that they provide is entirely unique, like Craigslist.

“A well-designed space immediately says that you care about the details and that you want to contribute something fun and meaningful to your customers’ lives.”

– Richard Branson

That statement comes from a man who owns his own island, so, his argument must hold some strength. But, let’s back this up with some data.

A study was conducted into the Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites and it was concluded that, “when questioned about why individuals did not trust a particular website, 94% of the responses related directly to web design elements, while only 6% made mention of specific content.” So, surely this must mean design is more important than content?

The Verdict Is In…

Whilst good design attracts people to a website, good content keeps them there. So, I argue that you cannot claim that one is more important than the other; rather, they are one in the same. The most important factor is experience. Combined together, a great web design and enthralling content can put across a cohesive branding message.

End of debate.

About the Author

Sara Da Silva

Sara Da Silva

Digital Experience Analyst

Sara has a passion for exploring new UX paradigms, keeping up to date on technological advances, and is a firm believer in the power of a positive mentality.

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