CONTENT IS KING
The key to a great website is a good user experience. The key to a good user experience is how a user interacts with the content. How do you ensure good content from a client? More importantly, how can content creation for web design be brought into your design workflow?
There’s no one right answer. Creating good content in your web design projects isn’t easy and lately in my web design projects I’ve been pushing hard on content first before design. I think we as designers know that content matters but I think the gravity of its importance is often overlooked by the designer, and in the clients case, the user isn’t considered enough when creating content.
As a web designer, I’m constantly questioning whether the content is going to resonate with the user and if the content is there for a good reason. In the past, companies have put their entire 20 page manifesto on their website. Probably dishing out some huge budget to make sure “who they are” is properly represented in the language. Over the years this has posed more and more of a problem. Why? People are reading less and less, and scanning more and more. Which is all the more important to get the user the content they’re looking for.
However, it is important to showcase who your client is. Currently, companies like Apple, Salt., and Olympic Provisions are doing this via alternative methods such as amazing photography, or large bold text. Images, video, catch phrases all can help convey a brand. Look at apple for instance. When you walk into the Portland, OR Apple store, there are no words to describe their brand to you, only images. Those images convey meaning far better than anything they could flat out tell you.
So with that being said I’ve come across a few helpful tricks in order to help create content that’s user centered:
REMEMBER THE BIGGER PICTURE
What is it you’re trying to get your user to do? Do they need affirmations that the service is sound and trustworthy? Pictures tell a thousand words and can persuade a user to act in a certain way but be sure the path you lead them down makes sense and directs them to what they want. Remembering what the user is there for will help keep the word count low which leads me to..
KEEP THE WORD COUNT LOW
Like I said earlier, users are reading less. Here’s a great article explaining the idea that we’re reading less and less far better than I can. If you must have a lengthy chunk of text look for other solutions that can work such as implementing accordion jQuery. Here’s a another great article by web developer Preston Schmidt which looks further into accordion styles using jQuery.
KNOW YOUR USER
It’s a great idea to create a user persona for any web site project. What’s their name? Do they like slow jazz or house music? Do they own any pets? These sound like silly things to think about when designing content for a site but it can help you make decisions on how to craft the content. Knowing your user is a step in designing a better experience for them.
USE A DYNAMIC COLLABORATION SYSTEM
I firmly believe Microsoft Word should be retired and all offices should incorporate Google Docs into their work flow. But why use Google docs? It does the same thing word does. Wrong. Google Docs has dynamic live features that allows users who’ve you shared the doc with to make comments, edits, revisions, suggestions, all on the fly. No more 20+ version Word documents. Think of it as a living breathing document that is always changing and reflecting your clients big picture. If you haven’t checked out google docs features here’s a great video by social media guru, Laura Roeder.
I urge all our clients at Ideaville to use Google Docs. It helps make the collaboration process richer. Collaboration is key and I wouldn’t want to ever go back to something else. I hope these tips help you create better content with your clients so you can help give your users the experience they’re looking for.