What is content design?

Each week our whole team gets together in the Studio for a Standup Meeting. It’s a chance for us all to share ideas, knowledge and get up to speed on the latest projects. During the meeting, a member of the team presents on an area of their work. This article is from the Digital Marketing Team. Amy, one of our talented content writers, spoke about the importance of Content design.

Content design is a marketing strategy that brings together three elements:

 – content writing

 – UX (user experience)

 – accessibility.

The main point of content design is to always focus on providing value to your audience: your user should always be front and centre in your mind. To add value, you don’t necessarily need to write, either. You could produce a video, create a graph, develop a search tool – anything that will best meet the needs of your audience.

To help explain content design better, we’ve pinpointed what we think are the 3 key principles.

1. Need not want

What an audience thinks they want and what they actually need can be two very different things. This might sound patronising, but hear us out.

If, for example, a person is tasked by their boss with finding a venue for their company conference, they may just want to book the first one they see to get the process over with. However, if you were an expert in the events industry you’d know that choosing the right venue is key. The person needs to consider location, accessibility, facilities, catering, capacity and more.

Through content design, you can explain this to them in an easy-to-understand way, and even though it may not be the solution they were looking for, it’ll ultimately work out better for them and build their trust in your brand.

2. Research

To be a successful content designer, it’s essential to do some research first – into your audience especially, but also into your own website to see what’s working and what’s not, into what your competitors are doing and what information is already available online.

To gather all the information required, you can use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to see what people are searching for and what websites – if any – are providing it.

You could also use forums to identify the vocabulary searchers are using, and of course, you could try to speak with your audience directly to find out what content they’d like to see on your site.

Another research method is to create user profiles for different sectors of your audience. A user profile looks like this:

 

As a _ I want to know about _ so that I can _ .

 

This will help you to get into the mindset of your users, figure out who they are, what they’re trying to do and what information you can give them to help them do it.

3. Ease of use

The average reading age in the UK is 9 years old. The majority of people only read 20-28% of words on a web page. The combination of these two facts means that you need to make it as easy as possible for your users to find what they need on your website.

If it’s a simpler process to do the same thing on a competitor’s website, even if it ends up costing more money, customers will go to them instead.

Some effective ways of designing simpler content include:

using bullet points
avoiding jargon
breaking up text into smaller paragraphs
putting the need-to-know information at the top of the page
using images and other visual elements to make it more interesting to look at.

By not forcing your reader to wade through lots of irrelevant content to get to what they need, it’ll build their trust and increase the chances of them using your website again.

To sum up

Take a step back from thinking about what message your brand is trying to push and think: what does our audience need from us?

It’s not about creating more content, it’s about creating smarter content that meets that need. The internet is already filled with millions of pieces of information that don’t fulfil a purpose, so try to avoid adding to that pile.

Don’t just write blindly. Always focus on adding value, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a content designer.

Find out more about how we can help you with your digital marketing.