Web Design vs Content

Whether you’re an amateur blogger or an eCommerce business owner, your main goal is to attract more users to your website and, ultimately, sell more products (or gain new subscribers). But with so many sites on the Internet these days, what can you do to improve your site and make it stand out in the crowd? Luckily, over the last few years, we’ve learned new ways to use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to style pages and make them more fun and interactive. We’ve also learned ways to gain recognition from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. But is design and SEO enough?

Sure, you can design webpages that lure your readers deeper into your website. You can even add buttons with intriguing text on them in hopes that your audience will click through. But these design techniques and strategies may mean little when the page they land on has terrible content. First, let me explain what page content is, and how you should use it.

What is Page Content?

In short, page content are the elements on a page that your audience can read, view, watch, or interact with. It can inform your reader about a product, service, topic, or issue. Or it could be used to excite the reader’s senses through descriptive writing or beautiful photographs. Among the most popular forms of page content are text, images, and video. You may even host an interactive application on your webpage that your readers find useful, such as Camelbak’s new “How Much Water Should You Drink” application. While all of these things are great for your readers and customers, they may serve a bigger purpose.

That’s right, your readers aren’t the only ones “reading” your page’s content. Search engines use bots to crawl the Internet for the most relevant content for specific keywords. Then, they use a highly classified algorithm to rank your site against other sites. Although this algorithm is under strict lock-and-key, there are some things we know about it. However, that’s a topic for another day.

Difference between Design and Content?

Web design covers a variety of elements, including webpage layout, colors, graphic design, and overall visual appearance. Some designers even say that creating content is part of the design process, and technically they’re right. When creating webpages from scratch (or even using Adobe Dreamweaver), you must code text and images just as you would any other elements. So therefore, it’s designed within the page.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll look at the visual aspects of design – color choices, header images, menu options, widgets, sidebar position, etc. There are a number of decisions that go into designing the look of your site, and those choices could decide how successful you’re site will be. One of the best tips you’ll hear about design, is to look around the web at other popular websites. Don’t steal their work, but use their pages as a starting point when designing your own sites. Not sure whether a sticky header is right for an audience of gamers? Do a quick search for a gaming site to see what choices they used for a header. If it’s working for them, it’ll probably work for you.

One thing is for certain – the world has gone mobile! And every website should too! If you wish for your audience or customers to find your site, you better jump on the “mobile bandwagon” and: A) use a responsive theme; or B) have an independent mobile site that your audience is directed to when using a mobile device. What is a responsive theme? A responsive theme does just like it sounds; it responds to the size of the device your user is viewing from, whether it’s an iPhone, Galaxy S5, iPad, or desktop. I encourage all of my clients to use a responsive theme, as it can increase their site’s traffic exponentially.

Final Thoughts

When creating content for your website, remember to use clear, factual, and persuasive writing. And always ensure that your copy is grammatically correct. There’s no better way to turn someone off than to have a page full of broken English. Besides, the better your content, the better your PageRank with Google. If you have the funds, you may want to consider hiring an editor to proof your content before posting it for the world to see. You may even want to hire a freelance writer to create your site’s blog posts. Just be sure that the author understands your site’s style, topic, purpose, and overall mission. Also, ensure that they have experience writing within your niche. For example, you wouldn’t hire a sports medicine blogger to write for your mobile technology site.

As far as design goes, have fun but don’t get carried away. Your site should be pleasing to the eye and carry the personality of your company/brand. Subtle, earthy tones would work great for a company that produces granite counter-tops. But not so well for a blog about Jamaican music. Use a little common sense when designing your site. And ensure that every page is visually appealing, which will encourage repeat readers (and buyers). Remember, first impressions are everything when it comes to the Internet. Often times, readers decide whether they like a site within seconds. Don’t let all of your hard work go to waste in the blink of an eye.