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Web Design “Strategy”

Design by itself is meaningless. It’s content that matters. People don’t visit your website because it looks nice. They visit because you have something they want. Your job is to give it to them.

Web Strategy is Content Strategy

Kristina Halvorson is founder and CEO of Brain Traffic, “one of the world’s only consultancies dedicated to content strategy and services.” In December of 2008, Ms. Halvorson wrote a brilliant article for A List Apart called The Discipline of Content Strategy, in which she defines Content Strategy as “[planning] for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.”

The key there is useful. As I stated above, people don’t visit your website because it looks nice. You have something they want. Your job is to give it to them. Get out of your own way and deliver useful content in a clear, useful way.

Clear Information is Useful Information

Clarity is important. If your content is confusing or hidden, it won’t reach your audience. Steve Woodruff wrote a post for MarketingProfs in January that I think fits well with Brain Traffic’s message. He wrote,

When writing marketing copy, it’s always a temptation to assume that the target audience: 1) knows everything you know; and 2) can absorb a whole bunch more. That’s not the case. Make it your goal to express one critical point very well, within the first 10 seconds. Because nobody is going to want to work hard to figure out what you do.

Design can & should have clarity too. Design should be built around your content, delivering it and presenting it to your audience. As Jeffrey Zeldman tweeted, “Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” Content comes first.

Lorem Ipsum is Killing Your Designs

A talented designer named Kyle Fielder wrote an outstanding article called just that. Alluding to the old saying “content is king,” Kyle wrote, “by adding Lorem Ipsum to the design you are essentially dressing your king before you know his size.” You should read Kyle Fielder’s article. It’s brilliant and it generated quite a bit of conversation & dispute.

Ok, Now What?

  1. Plan. Plan. Plan some more — Create content, and draft a plan for creating more content
  2. Stop using Photoshop — Design in a browser, starting with plain text and growing from there
  3. Stop using Lorem Ipsum (unless absolutely necessary) — Because you already have all that content you created in Step 1. Right?