Why Content Marketing Drives Design as Never Before

Design is now the stepchild to content, as it should be.

Content delivers value to your visitor. End of story.

Dive in to eight web sites that get a mixed review of “content first” as a marketing strategy. 

This Griffin Hill design below is visually appealing; but, menus are not well thought out (key for content engagement), “media” is used for “blog” and home page content has just too much going on.

Griffin Hill - Integrity Sales System 2015-01-19 15-45-16

Content should not be secondary to design and added as an afterthought to a design for any B2B brand. This site below has gorgeous graphics but the content is hidden and overpowered by the graphical elements.

Rein in your designers and let them know content pays the freight. Your content should be doing the talking for you, not design.

Jill Konrath | Sales Strategies | Sales Techniques 2015-01-19 15-52-47

The New York Times is designed for all types of users. Everything is stripped down. The Content is the star of the show.

In Baton Rouge, They’re Still Singing the Blues - NYTimes.com 2015-01-19 16-09-06A pure play product sales company like Forever 21 ignores content altogether. Focus in on driving eCommerce sales and content is not even in the picture.

Sidebars, Menus, User Interface is all driven by focus on product sales with a dynamic call to action (30% sale) embedded in the primary imagery.


Shop Forever 21 for the latest trends and the best deals | Forever 21 2015-01-19 16-16-19

Inc Magazine can’t figure out what it wants to be to the visitor: it’s a mashup of content, images, menus and the navigation is challenging.

The content is lost in the design, with no clear focus that drives the visitor into the site.

Small Business Ideas and Resources for Entrepreneurs 2015-01-19 16-57-48

All Day’s site is a great example of how a publishers (Medium is another example) are embracing images as the “content start” - leaving text behind in the dust.

It’s all about grabbing the viewer’s attention with images and most importantly, a stipped down User Interface, forcing the visitor to engage (or click away) with the content.


Howard Hughes' Literally Crazy Life - All Day 2015-01-19 17-14-23

Wayfarer Vineyards is a great example of how powerful imagery (background) coupled with one video and minimalist menus.  The only text on the homepage is a link to a YouTube Video which gives the visitor a short well done two minute video.

Wayfarer | Single-vineyard wines; Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2015-01-19 17-23-32

Kaiser Permanente ia a stellar example of design by committee, with no thought about driving the visitor into the content.

You’re overwhelmed just visiting the home page: it has ten different content elements, with no real focus on engaging the visitor.

The brand focused “this is what we do” content is mixed in with services accessible via the site. It’s a confusing site when you assess the design or the content itself.


Live Well and Thrive | Thrive with Kaiser Permanente ® 2015-01-23 17-49-01


Ten Rules to Make Your Web Site Content Driven 

  1. Many of you want to see a visual representation of a web site prior to writing the copy.  It’s a design first approach. Thats the wrong way to look at design. Write content (copy) first and then map this to your menus; then, move to design.
  2. If your design causes friction for the visitor (see Kaiser’s site above and it looks just as busy via mobile) on one device (mobile) and forces the visitor to channel hop to another device, your sales funnel and customer journey suffer.
  3. Start with a content map or documents and then build design elements around it.
  4. Mobile consumers are distracted, but many of them are more sophisticated than we give them credit for. Forcing them to take arbitrary paths through a site designed for desktops with old school point and click navigation means you are missing a critical opportunity.
  5. There is no shame in integrating lists with your content. We live in an age of mobile access and lists should be baked in to your content, with design attributes that complement it.
  6. If you have no CMS (“content management system) in place don’t even think about standing up a web  site. You can’t easily update your web site and hanging a WordPress blog looks amateurish. Don’t forget editing; no web site should be static.
  7. Radical designs don’t work well with content strategy. If your designer(s) are throwing something exotic at you run away. Content driven design boils down to basics: load times, quality/curated images, SEO best practices integration (it’s still important), navigation, onboard sales funnel & analytics.
  8. All content and great design need to build customer intimacy: with connected behaviors, preferences and usage patterns addressed in all facets of design and content strategy.
  9. Content delivers perceived value to your visitors, not design.
  10. Don’t fall in love with your home page. It’s sole function is to drive a visitor into your web site. It should pique interest, not function as an overview of your brand.

 Five Indications Content Strategy is not Integral to Your Marketing Strategy 

  • You have no idea what a content audit is and haven’t completed one.
  • Content strategy is occurring behind the design process.
  • Your business has no analytics data or sense of what your customers are searching for if what content is being accessed via your existing site.
  • Content marketing is less than 20% of your design budget; it should be at least 30-40%.
  • No plan in place for content syndication and/or publishing.

Content Defines Design as Never Before 

Content delivers value to your customers. Design is integral to your visitor’s experience; but, it’s no longer as important as it once was.

Every aspect of design has a burdened cost on the front and for back end maintenance. Minimalists designs not only help your content stand out but save your business marketing dollars over the long haul.

Regardless, your content marketing strategy is today the fundamental underpinning of every aspect of web site design.