A content-first approach to website redesign has become the go-to strategy for modern marketers. Here’s why content is being put front and center in today’s web marketing.
Why is a Content-first Approach so Important?
There are a number of components of any website, but modern marketers are finally putting content first. Content can include:
While how a website looks is very important, ultimately content is what attracts users to a website. Content is what keeps users engaged and makes them come back. 78% of customers prefer to learn about a brand from their content and not from paid ads.
This is why your planning, design, and development should revolve around showcasing your content and making it as accessible as possible.
The Problems of Putting Design First
Humans are very visual creatures. It’s no secret that how your website looks can make or break it. When we see things, we understand and relate to them. However, even the most beautiful website in the world will not serve your brand well if it lacks in key ways. Your website must also have engaging content. It also needs to be easy for users to navigate and interact with, otherwise they will become confused and leave.
Designing a website before putting thought into the content is like putting all of your time and money into painting a house before considering the foundation. Instead of chopping up content to suit a web layout, create your layout with content in mind. Your layout should make your content shine. It also needs to ensure that your website offers the most value and best experience possible to users.
Content Strategy Is Key To Website Redesign
Content is important. However, the right content is more important. If you want engagement and to achieve your marketing goals, the content you offer must meet customer needs. It should inspire them to interact with your brand. A content strategy should guide your goals for the audience, what topics you choose to explore, and the architecture of your website.
Your content strategy will help you determine a hierarchy for your content. You will be able to structure content from most important to least important page by page. What you think is most important for users to see should be showcased first. Before any designing, Website redesign, or development is started, a content strategy must come first in a content-first approach.
Information Architecture in a Content-first Approach
After you have built a content strategy, it is time to take the next step. This will involve brainstorming, prioritizing, editing down, and mapping out content to user goals. Information Architecture (IA) is the process of organizing, structuring, and labeling the content of your website in a way that is organic and user-friendly. One important tool of IA is a sitemap. A sitemap is a site’s blueprint. A sitemap can include:
- Primary Pages
- Secondary Pages
- Tertiary Pages
- Types of content
- The order of content
Sitemaps make it easy to get a visual grasp of the content hierarchy and to add, edit, or remove areas as your goals and audience grow and change. Below is an example of a simple sitemap.
Content And Design Must Work Together
Since the dawn of the internet, web marketers and creators have opted for a design-first approach rather than a content-first approach. For those who are used to do doing things in this way, it can feel like a daunting task to suddenly switch things up. Seeing the visuals first can provide a motivational boost. Without it, marketers have to think about content way before they used to.
If it feels like a misstep, keep in mind that some websites have become very successful with almost no intricate design at all. As long as the content of the site is easy to navigate and provides extraordinary value to the user, they will continue to use the website. Websites like Craigslist and Wikipedia are living proof of this.
However, most websites which are successful and have staying power flawlessly blend and balance valuable content, navigation that feels organic, and aesthetically pleasing design. While Craigslist and Wikipedia have succeeded, keep in mind that roughly half of all users judge the credibility of a site based on visual factors. These include the layout, font size, typography, and color schemes.
Design Makes Content Shine
Ultimately, web design should accomplish three things.
- Present content in a way that works for users
- Communicate the brand with visual consistency
- Create engaging visuals
Previously, designers were forced to create ways to showcase content that didn’t exist yet. This resulted in many changes to their work. The initial design would have looked quite different if the designers had more to work with than hypothetical content. Designers knowing your content hierarchy and brand image can streamline this whole process.
In today’s world, a content-first approach is a necessity. Modern users access and digest content faster than ever before. In fact, it only takes about 50 milliseconds, or 0.05 seconds, for users to determine whether the like your site or not, and whether they will stay or go.
This means that modern web design requires that form follows function. Both of these aspects must be highly strategic and complimentary. Designers need to know what your content is, who you want it to appeal to, and where you expect it to be displayed. The design must come after the content.
Focus on Content from the Beginning
A whole generation of marketers is used to designing a website first. Once this has been accomplished, they have two options. They can fit content into the design. If that doesn’t work, their site might go through numerous redesigns. Content must come first in today’s world. A content strategy is necessary for a content-first approach.
This content strategy must involve user-focused, relevant, and compelling content. It should be accessible to your target audience. It should also provide value. This can be in the form of information, answers, and education. The ultimate goal of your content should be to guide users on their customer journey. This can be done with informative links, list tutorials, information from outside sources, photography, how-to video content.
In fact, nearly half of marketers site photography as critical to their storytelling and marketing strategies.
If you are beginning a website redesign journey, design and development are essential parts of the process. However, you must start with content. A content-first approach will help you better meet your audience’s needs. It will also help you create a design that will positively affect the overall user experience. Improvements in usability, navigation, and value lead to increased engagement and conversation among users.
Do you think a content-first approach is the future of website design? Why or Why not? Comment below…