The question is often asked: “What is more important, web design or web content?”
The short answer is that both are equally important if a website is to be successful.
Don’t start with content OR design
Many web site designers start with a wireframe prototype that contains the basic layout of the site and a simple site map. After this has been tweaked, design elements like logos, colour schemes, menus and buttons are created and sample web pages constructed.
The danger of this approach is that content could become an afterthought. Whilst it is true that people may first be attracted to the visual look of a website, it is the content they come for and it is the content that has the most weight when Google decides where to rank the website. Without the content, nobody will even find the website to see the beautiful design.
If content is created first, without considering design elements, then there is the danger of great content suffering from poor design.
Design can attract people to a website but it is great content that keeps them there.
It is important that the writer of web content should work closely with the web designer as both elements influence each other.
Content can be presented in different ways.
An example of content effecting design is when a page contains a large word count. Blocks of text need to be broken up with headlines, sub-headings and images. The page needs to be designed in such a way that someone scanning the page has a clear idea of what the message contained in the words is all about.
Another design strategy is to use tabs that make sections of large content easier to find.
Learn from Apple
A great example of marrying content with design is the approach used by Apple on their website.
At the top of each page there is a top menu that shows their main product sections such as Mac, iPad, iPhone, Watch and TV. Select a menu option and the visitor comes to a page rich with images, but with short headlines and short text sections that summarise the main message that Apple communicates.
The Mac section contains simple statements that distinguish the various models:
“MacBook, Light. Years ahead.”
“MacBook Pro. More power behind every pixel.”
“MacBook Air. All the power you want all day long.”
“iMac. Retina, Now in colossal and ginormous.”
Under each statement is a double call to action contained in the links: “Learn More. Buy.”
Underneath the Mac model options is information about why you should buy a Mac including its operating system and the built-in apps.
Then there are sections on using a Mac, in business and education.
Visitors scanning an Apple web page can quickly know what each page is about and underneath each section they can learn more about any feature they are interested in.
The Apple website could not have been designed without designers and content writers working closely with each other.
It is this mixture that creates the perfect website.