Weave your web design around your content and collect your results
Everyone is familiar with the promise of easily creating a website or online store by following a platform’s straightforward steps. However, the reality is that effectively building this website is much more complex than it initially appears. Rather than trying to fit content into a pre-existing design mould, Content-First Design is an approach that prioritises the development of content before diving into the design elements of a website.
The role of content in conveying the right information and ultimately ensuring the website serves its intended purpose is crucial, and selecting the right content and its appropriate distribution layouts can easily turn into trouble along the way.
Combined with a robust content strategy and agile generation stage, crafting your website’s design by prioritising content becomes way more intuitive and effective. This design approach ensures that the website or store isn’t just visually pleasing, but also resonates deeply with visitors and drives engagement and action.
Introducing Content-First Design
Instead of slotting in text after a design is in place, this approach turns this idea inside out. Content-First Design is about shaping the design around the content, it’s all about your content guiding your design.
In the digital age we live in, content isn’t just king; it’s the entire kingdom. You can picture a content strategy as this realm’s map, and this approach as its compass. By understanding and participating in your content’s audit and collection phases, you’re not just an observer but an active collaborator in building your kingdom.
What are the benefits of this approach? The answer lies in its user-centric nature.
This strategy directly addresses your audience’s needs. It ensures that the information offered to them is clear and relevant. It goes beyond mere aesthetics and taps into their emotions, satisfying their requirements, guiding them effectively on how to interact with the product and the website itself, inviting them to explore more while navigating it, and more importantly, to return to it. Users feel seen, taken into account and highly grateful.
Additionally, starting off with this content strategic design can significantly reduce costly mistakes of having to redesign or make changes down the line if the design happens to miss-match with the content. This proactive approach helps in aligning the design with your core content from the beginning.
In essence Content-First Design approach enables:
- Invisible UX: A user experience so seamless that users don’t even realise they’ve completed a task, they find what they are looking for intuitively.
- Task Completion and Business Objectives: While reducing friction is essential, the ultimate goal is guiding users towards task completion, like signing up or purchasing, and meeting business goals.
- Eliminating Pain Points: The first step towards invisible design is recognising and rectifying users’ concerns to enhance their overall journeys.
- Collaboration: Involves continuous cross-teamwork, from design to UX and engineering, to optimally mesh content with the product’s broader goals.
- Efficiency: By focusing on content first, you streamline the design process, ensuring that every design decision supports content and user needs.
The Content-First Design principle
Drawing inspiration from Stanford’s “Wallet Project”, the importance of user-centric design and innovation, through a process of interviewing, ideating, prototyping, and testing, comes to light. The Wallet Project proposal is an exercise used for design thinking where participants have to create a wallet for a partner based on empathy and understanding their needs.
The main purpose of Content-First Design approach is exactly this, a deep understanding of what your users are looking for. When you know what your users need, you can structure the content and the design to fit those needs seamlessly.
This principle is vital for website development. Comprehending end-user needs leads to superior design solutions; knowing your users’ requirements in advance allows the creation of an optimised tailored structure of content and design.
And for the cherry on the top, identify your content’s components and organise the order in which they are to appear. This includes the context, establishing the right tone of voice, and determining the type of information, written text, technical logic, and visual assets. A cohesive approach guarantees a smooth and logical flow of information, enhancing once again the overall user experience.
How we implement it
This is how it works for us. We design the website or store not only to be visually pleasing, but focused on being deeply significant to its visitors and delivering the desired brand’s message. We take content as the root to guide the design, instead of fitting content into a pre-existing design mould.
LightSpeed’s website clients recognise that our content-first design approach isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a methodology that leads to improved user journeys and interactions, more efficient website design processes, and cost savings in the long run. To choose content as the starting point not only guides users more effectively but also achieves business objectives more directly.
To shape our designs around your content and guarantee a smoother, clearer, and more efficient website experience for all users, we follow this outline:
- Research: Begin with deep market research and data analysis audits to make well-informed content decisions. Identify who your audiences are, what they’re trying to do, their challenges, and which language they speak.
- Collection and Creation: This stage is about gathering and developing the content that meets the identified user needs. It can include various formats like text, diagrams, videos, and more. The design is moulded around this content, ensuring a cohesive and intuitive user experience.
- Understand User Behaviour: Utilise tools like heatmaps and session recordings to gain insights into how users interact with your content. This data can highlight areas where users get stuck or face confusion.
- Collaborate: Work closely with various teams, including product, research, and design, to ensure the content aligns seamlessly with the product’s functionalities and objectives.
- Iterate and Test: Content-First Design is a dynamic process. Use content tests to validate decisions, understand user engagement, and adjust based on feedback and new research.
- Analyse & Refine: Monitor user responses to your content. Tools like feedback widgets and session recordings can help gather actionable insights about their interactions.
- Continuous Learning: Encourage a culture of continuous learning. The more feedback you collect and act on, the more refined and user-centric your content will become.
In the digital age, content isn’t just king; it’s the entire kingdom. And content strategy is the map of this realm. By understanding and participating in the content audit and collection stages, you’re not just an observer but an active collaborator in building your kingdom. Content guides our design, and design drives your desired outcomes.