What's more Important for Websites: Content or Design?
Posted on 24th March 2020
When it comes to web development, something of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation often arises when it comes to content versus design.
The designer wants the content to inform their design and the content writer wants the design to inform the copy… In truth, a site can be built either way around.
But which matters more – content or design? Let’s take a look at some of the arguments put forward by both parties.
Great design = a great first impression
When a potential customer visits your website, the first thing they’ll notice is what it looks like. A professional, well-designed site with quality images and lots of visual appeal will make a great first impression.
On the other hand, an outdated or badly designed site, or one that’s clearly been thrown together using a cheap template, will have a negative impact.
It’s this first impression, which happens in the blink of an eye, that will drive your prospect’s decision whether to stay on your site or click away to one of your competitors.
It’s all about creating a positive perception of your brand from the outset, so visitors to your site want to stay there and learn more about your business.
Bespoke design can make a site – and a business – unique
In a crowded marketplace, it can be hard to stand out from the herd. This is especially the case if your written content tends to be very similar, perhaps because of regulatory requirements (think financial service providers), or just because everyone comes out with the same ‘USPs’ of great customer service, quality products, and so on…
If you’re in this situation, one thing you can do to stand out from the crowd is commission a bespoke web design. Cutting edge graphics, sassy animation or quirky photography can make a big difference in grabbing attention and capturing imaginations.
After all, what would appeal to you more: an over-used WordPress template or a unique design that shows creative flair?
Site design reflects your service ethos
If you think about your website as your online shop window, you’ll see what we’re getting at here. Think about walking down a high street and seeing a dilapidated shop front with half empty shelves and out of date stock. Would you want to go in and look around? Probably not!
On the other hand, consider a freshly painted shop with gleaming windows and piles of shiny new stock, nicely merchandised. You’d probably be tempted to go in and browse. The same principle applies to web design. If prospects don’t feel welcome when they visit your site, you’ve no chance of converting them into paying customers.
People trust what they see, not what you say
As we’ve already seen, people don’t like badly designed websites. If they don’t like your website, why should they like your brand? Given that ‘Like’ is the central ingredient in the all-important marketing process of ‘Know, Like, and Trust,’ it stands to reason that you’ll be onto a losing streak if people don’t like your website design.
Much of this boils down to professionalism, or lack of. Many businesses try to cut corners by building free or low-cost websites themselves, or using cheap providers who rely on generic templates. There’s no long-term plan or consideration of the returns that investing in professionally designed website will ultimately bring.
Quality content is essential for SEO
No matter how well designed a website might be, it won’t rank in the search engines without quality content. Useful, relevant and informative content is perhaps the most important search engine ranking factor of them all, having gained increasing prominence in the last few Google algorithm updates.
Put simply, people won’t be able to find your brand online without content. We’ve already seen that good design is important for helping your brand stand head and shoulders above the crowd. But if people can’t find your site in the first place, even the most beautiful design won’t do you any favours.
Pictures don’t sell, words do
A picture might paint a thousand words, but it can’t explain the features and benefits of a product or service, explain why you should choose a company over their competitors, or update you on the latest industry news.
Yes, images are important, especially for highly visual products and services such as photography, furniture, cars, and holidays.
But have you ever really bought something online just because you looked at some pretty pictures? This would be like a salesperson coming to your house, giving you a brochure and sitting in silence. In the vast majority of cases, it’s the content on a website that will put the seal on your decision to buy.
Content goes beyond words
The power of website content is that it’s not restricted to the written word. By using formats such as video, audio, diagrams, infographics, and interactive presentations, you can offer information about your products and services in a variety of ways, broadening your appeal – and therefore your audience.
These media can also be used to present information that can be complex or hard to understand in a simpler, user-friendly way.
This helps people to better understand what you have to offer and how they can benefit from it, in turn making them more likely to buy.
Content makes it personal
There’s only one way to address visitors to your website personally: through content. Whether they’re watching a video, listening to a podcast, or reading written content; you have a unique opportunity to get the full attention of each prospect and present messages they can relate to and which resonate with them personally.
Content is also the only way you can provide a call to action to prospects. Whether you want them to make an enquiry, leave a review, request a brochure or place an order, content gives you the opportunity to tell them exactly what you want them to do. Well-crafted calls to action can make a big difference to conversion rates on your website.
So, which is best: content or design?
Weighing up the evidence, we can only conclude that both are of equal importance to a website! Good design will attract visitors to a site, whilst good content will keep them there. Design and content need to work together to give you the best possible chance of achieving what you want from your website.
Need help to promote your business online and getting the balance between design and content just right?
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