Web Development and the Importance of Good Content
One thing that is often underestimated in a web development project is the importance of good content. Content, like the value of type as I’ve discussed before, is a crucial foundational element–a building block to good design. It’s all well and good if something looks pretty, but pretty alone does not make for an impactful design.
I’m going to start by talking about this concept on a small scale, an email design. Let’s say I’ve been working on a design, and stared at it for awhile feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I’d designed up to my normal standards; however that ‘X’ factor wasn’t there. The email was just okay, but something just wasn’t resonating clearly.
Maybe the headline wasn’t right, or the call to action wasn’t clear. Maybe there was chunk of body copy that was inflated beyond what it needed to be. Whatever the reason, the problem wasn’t with the design at all. It dawned on me that the problem was the content.
I happen to have a knack for writing, and an eye for good writing for the web. So in this fast-paced environment, I’ll sometimes wear a writing hat, modifying provided content as needed–tweak a headline, condense a point, etc. Writing, like design, isn’t something you necessarily get right off the bat. It takes time to craft a piece into perfection. So this kind of back and forth amongst our team isn’t uncommon. Working with talented writers is always a pleasure, and good content makes for better design.
On non-cms driven design samples, I can modify content as it fits into the design, and quickly improve upon and adjust content. In that email, for example, I was able to quickly rewrite the provided content to make it perfect. On large scale projects, such as writing for a whole site, it’s especially important to consider the content early on and learn how to best write for the web.
Attention spans are short, and as designers, we only have a fraction of time to pique someone’s interest. I subscribe to the KISS theory: Keep It Simple Stupid. For the most part, less is more. I’m all about distilling large amounts of text into its most pertinent form, since people don’t have a ton of time. They’re looking to digest content from a myriad of sources in a short span. The goal is to deliver content quickly with more scrolling and less paging. Get your point across in as few words as possible, right away. Don’t make people dig deep down to access information. If they are having to dig that deep, it might speak to your content being unnecessarily bloated, anyway.
I believe that it is our job as designers to deliver content in a relevant and useful way. We can steer the presentation of content and how it is interacted with. However, it is crucial to start with a good base of content in the first place. A great ‘look’ alone won’t be a homerun. You need substance and style to hit it out of the park. Having a well written, well designed site will put you on track go getting the conversion rates you’d like, and keep people returning to your site.