Why Should You be Using Motion Graphics in Your Marketing Campaigns?

Every year there’s a new trend that industry insiders declare as the future of marketing. Motion Graphics was championed in 2014, but unlike most fleeting trends, motion graphics are still very much in vogue.

Primarily because motion graphics are the video marketing era’s answer to the infographic. An accessible and entertaining way to disseminate complex information, infographics allowed you to capture consumer information in a way that a wall of text could not.

Now, in an era where Video has dethroned Content for the crown, motion graphics do the same.

Essentially, motion graphics are just graphic design in movement. The practice of taking a still, flat design and adding dimension to it using the laws of time and space.

But even if that description doesn’t ring any bells, you would have definitely seen them. Across TV, film, apps, advertising and virtually any medium that requires some sort of kinesis, motion graphics are ubiquitous.

The Rise of Video Marketing

By 2020, Cisco predicted that 80% of all internet traffic will be video – so the potential market for your video content is huge.

Especially when considering the influential reach the medium has. Web users spend an average of 19 hours a month watching videos, with a 60% of shoppers watching product videos while making decisions to buy, with a 174% of shoppers actually making a purchase after watching a video.

With video galvanising the content marketing industry over the last two years, you would have thought that every business would be populating their websites and social media with moving pictures.

However, despite 72% of content marketers saying that creating video content is their number one priority – they are struggling to make content that is original, compelling and effective.

But creating solid video content is difficult. Unless you have the budget to invest in great equipment, or better yet, a team specialised in scripting, designing, editing and creating video content, it’s going to come across more Blair Witch than Coca Cola.

Good video content should do 5 of 5 things.

  1. It should guide your leads all the way through the buyer journey.
  2. It should understand what your audience wants, and it should give it to them in the most consumable way possible. Video is so shareable because it is inherently passive for the viewer, serve them what they want on a platter and cut it up into bite-size chunks.
  3. It should be worth the watch. Whether that’s because your video is funny, engaging, useful or inspirational, your video needs to provide value.
  4. It needs to be able to be distributed easily and effectively. Your video should be able to reach your audience where they spend the majority of their time and engage them there.
  5. It creates a consistent brand identity. Every bit of your marketing should make up a cohesive narrative that tells the audience exactly who you are and what you stand for.

Easy, right?

Not so much. But, this is where motion graphics can help you.

Motion graphics enables you to consistently hit all five bases in a way that is not only far more cost-effective than traditional live action video content but also more effective overall.

In fact, if you’ve got an old infographic lying around and an hour spare, you might be able to make a fairly rudimentary motion graphics video before the end of office hours today.

But if you’re still not picking up what we’re laying down, here are the ways motion graphics can revolutionise your marketing campaigns.

The Reasons Why You Should Be Using Motion Graphics in Your Marketing

1.   It creates a cohesive brand identity

Live action has its constraints, and one of those is in the way it can present your brand identity. Unless your budget is endless, there are only so many ways you can incorporate your branding into your video without it coming across as too much.

Brand awareness and association is the real muscle power behind driving conversions. After all, if a customer has never heard of your brand, how can they buy from it?

With motion graphics, there are no limits to the number of ways you can subtly incorporate your brand into your content. Presenting your brand’s message in not only the script, but also the choice of music, shape, colour, design and even the movement can culminate in a very powerful impression.

In an oversaturated marketplace, simply being visible doesn’t cut it anymore. You need to be instantly recognisable, and more importantly, memorable. By allowing you to seed your brand message through every aspect of your video content, motion graphics presents you with a level of control simply not feasible in live action.

2.   It makes the boring, exciting

If your audience enjoys your video ads, it increases brand association by 139% and purchase intent by a whopping 97%.

What do you think your audience would enjoy more? A video of a person explaining your company to the camera – or what motion graphics can create, which is a world without limitations where you can craft a truly engaging narrative. Even the dry-est technical copy can become an Oscar-worthy story with the aid of a little design. Especially when you integrate motion graphics with other complementary mediums, such as animation.

Evoking emotion in marketing has been proven to positively impact consumer decision-making, even in B2B markets.

And with people’s attention spans getting shorter, a 1000-word blog post won’t cut it. You need to get their attention – and keep it, fast.

3.   Higher retention and engagement rates

65% of viewers watch more than ¾ of a video, which is more than we can say about text-based content. So, if you have a message to get across (and why wouldn’t you if you’re creating content?), motion graphics and video might be the way to go.

On top of that your audience is 10 times more likely to share and engage with your video content than your blog posts or photos.

Video continuously shows to be the medium that would drive engagement higher. Motion graphics are no exception from this. Facebook videos, for one, have 135% more organic reach than their image counterparts.

4.   It’s shareable

Today, the world is shifting from laptops and desktops to mobile devices for content consumption.

In fact, more than 50% of users watch videos using their smartphones or tablets, and the great thing about motion graphics content is that any device can play it (unlike Flash videos that cannot be played on iPhones and iPads). This then gives you more opportunities to reach your target market with user-friendly content.

What Are Infographics and Why Are They Important?

Infographics are visual presentations of information that use the elements of design to display content. Infographics express complex messages to viewers in a way that enhances their comprehension. Images are often an extension of the content of a written article, but infographics convey a self-contained message or principle.

If a road sign has too much information on it, then it is difficult to read. Infographics compress and display this information in a visually pleasing way so that drivers don’t miss the message. Infographics communicate complex data quickly and clearly, and they are considered to be effective worldwide.

What Are Infographics?

When a complex piece of information needs to be described quickly, precisely and clearly, a graphic is suitable. Infographics are used for signs, maps and data presentations. Scientists, technical writers, mathematicians, educators and statisticians ease the process of developing, organizing, recording and communicating conceptual information by using infographics.

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Infographics are used for the following reasons:

  • To communicate a message,
  • To present a lot of data or information in a way that is compact and easy to comprehend,
  • To analyze data in order to discover cause-and-effect relationships,
  • To periodically monitor the route of certain parameters.

Infographics are composed of three important elements:

Visual Elements

  • Color coding
  • Graphics
  • Reference icons

Content Elements

  • Time frames
  • Statistics
  • References

Knowledge Elements

  • Facts

 

The History of Infographics

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Infographics have been used throughout history. The first known examples of infographics are hieroglyphics or cave paintings in ancient Egypt 5,000 years ago. Nicole d’Orseme (1352-82), Bishop of Lisieux, combined figures into groups and graphed them. Leonardo da Vinci combined graphics with text in his “Treatise on Painting.”

The Commercial and Political Atlas, published in 1786 by William Playfair, was the first example of modern infographics. Otto Neurath was then famously known to have attempted to create a language without words, an endeavor that developed into the Isotype movement (International System of Typographic Picture Education). Early adapters of infographics in the US include Fortune magazine, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times.

The advent of the computer massively affected the kinds of infographics that these publications used. Newspapers cut short the requirement for skilled painters and started using programs like MacDraw by Apple.

Gallop Organization was the first to deeply investigate the capabilities of infographics. Its research concluded that graphic elements receive a greater deal of attention and have a more memorable impression on viewers than a presentation using words only.

The emergence of the Internet precipitated the use of infographics.

Types of Infographics

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Infographics are used in many fields: government, the corporate sector, medicine, engineering, research and development and so on. Certain types of infographics are targeted to people with specialized knowledge or expertise. It is possible to classify infographics according to five categories.

1. Cause and Effect Infographics

These graphs explain causal relationships between various physical or conceptual stages; for example, the causes of the recession in the US and its effect on the global economy.

2. Chronological Infographics

Chronological infographics explain an event or process as it happened in time. Presenting information on a timeline enables readers to analyze the temporal relationship between various stages of a process. For example, a bar chart that shows the growth in sales of a particular product over a period of time is a chronological infographic.

3. Quantitative Infographics

Quantitative infographics convey statistical data to readers quickly and clearly. These graphics include charts, bar graphs, tables and lists. Statistical tools such as pie charts also help summarize complex data. Quantitative infographics can be regarded as flow charts of an organizational structure that explain the hierarchy and responsibilities of different positions.

4. Directional Infographics

Infographics can navigate readers through information. Numbers, symbols, icons, diagrams, graphs, tables, arrows and bullets are used to communicate information. We all saw these infographics in our school days. Traffic symbols, scale maps and navigational aids on streets and highways are common examples. Numbers are used to indicate the distance, and dots, arrows and bullets are used as landmarks for directional aid.

5. Product Infographics

Product infographics can be seen on notice boards at factories and corporate offices, conveying information to all employees and visitors. Product infographics are also used by dieticians and in cooking schools to convey key procedures. Combining images with data makes it easier to comprehend large amounts of information in a limited space. Understanding how to work your new food processor is simple if you look at the images on the back of the box. Imagine how difficult it would be without the images!

Readers who lead busy fast-paced lifestyles do not have a lot of time to interpret data, and so innovative ways of conveying information need to be explored. Infographics communicate key information quickly. They attract the attention and maintain the focus of readers.

Infographics can also be categorized according to how they present graphic information to readers. Visual infographics can be classified in three categories:

  • Static infographics present information at once and in its entirety. These graphics have a quick and immediate impact on the reader. Examples of this include newspaper graphics and product manuals.
  • Motion infographics play a major role in cinema and presentations. Information is presented sequentially and consistently. Examples of this include graphic animations and PowerPoint presentations.
  • Interactive infographics engage the audience. Information is presented according to the reader’s choice. For example, on the web, a reader might select what they want to view from a complex set of instructive and simulated information.

Tips for Designing Infographics

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Infographics need to convey information clearly, but they can still be creative. Likewise, infographics that capture the imagination of readers can also be comprehensible.

Infographics surround us: we see them on TV, in books, in newspapers, on road signs and in manuals. The Internet is flooded with infographics related to a range of fields—from science and technology to society and culture. How do we ensure that infographics effectively deliver comprehensive information and knowledge to the public?

Simplicity Is the Best Policy

Infographics should be simple, clean, concise and clear. Make sure the information being conveyed is well organized. Visual simplicity ensures that the graphic will be easy for readers to comprehend.

Nothing Takes Effect Without a Cause

Emphasize cause and effect relationships in your presentation. Several infographics depicting the causes of the recent recession in the US are still fresh in my mind for their effectiveness and precision. Even a layperson in Asia would understand the role of the subprime lending industry in the chain of events. Infographics spread awareness of these factors and enable people to voice their concerns.

Draw Your Boundaries

Be clear: limit the scope of your information, and draw your lines accordingly. The attention span of the average user is not increasing. Define your question carefully, and be sure to answer it using the best method available. The visualization you create will be much more effective and imaginative that way.

Sticking to one question makes it easier to communicate to the public. If I wanted to discuss the recent recession, I could begin by asking, “What were its root causes?”

Think in Color

Color is the most effective tool by which authors guide and influence their readers. Color can give readers varied impressions, both conceptual and emotional. It plays an important role in infographics.

Choosing colors that enhance your information is an important aspect of graphic design. Color makes the information you provide more legible and determines the visual hierarchy of information. Choosing the right colors is important. Contrast is king: the background should blend well with the illustrations.

Layout Is Not Just About Typography

Infographics don’t have to look like a piece from a newspaper or magazine. Tap your creativity: try different combinations of typography, illustrations, images, charts, diagrams and icons. Adopt an exciting trend in the creation of your design. Use a maximum of two or three fonts in the designs you create. The effectiveness of the infographic will depend entirely on your creativity as a designer. Add a logo if the infographic is connected to a company or institution.

Make It Appeal the Eye

Ensure that you have a clear idea of the final size of the graphic as you are working. Articles online that require you to click on a text link to view the relevant graphics are annoying. Design your graphics to be viewed along with articles. Perhaps viewers will need to click the image to see a high-resolution version, but they should be able to first view the image along with the article to better understand its relevance.

Be Verifiable

Many infographics lead readers to the wrong conclusion due to a lack of verifiable information and detailed data resources. Make infographics trustworthy by allowing readers to dig deeper into the data if they so desire. Always cite your data sources with relevant links. Some articles allow readers to access source data through links to a spreadsheet that they can view on their own.

Excellent Examples of Creative Infographics

Infographics can present a rich amount of information without intimidating you. Or sometimes they intimidate you, but make the digesting of the information much more bearable. Here in this showcase below, you will see an excellent selection of Infographics which might help you learn a thing or two.

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Examples of Some of the Interesting Infographics

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Can a Website RFP Improve Your Project Success Rate?

Can a Website RFP Improve Your Project Success Rate?

Can-an-RFP-Improve-Your-Project-Success-Rate
Have you ever issued a website RFP and received limited responses? Did you wonder what went wrong and why design agencies failed to reply with earnest?

You’re not alone.

The breakdown in the RFP process can be attributed to both the RFP issuer and the RFP responders. And it is an issue that has been growing for years.

On the client side, a lot of companies fail to publish a solid RFP, which makes it difficult for agencies to respond or even take them serious. On the agency side, design firms have grown so jaded about poorly written RFP documents that many won’t even reply. This breakdown in the RFP process flow can be corrected.

A well-written, properly executed RFP can have a positive impact on the website design process. It can help articulate the project requirements and objectives, while also providing a method for obtaining an apples to apples comparison of website developers.

So now that we’ve moved past the validity of website RFPs, let’s move on to crafting one that works for both the client and the design agency.

Top Reasons Why Design Agencies Ignore Website RFP Documents

While there are lots of agency blog posts ranting about the dangers of website RFP documents, there seems to be little information about fixing the problems within the RFP process. The posts that do offer help simply provide an RFP template that has little do so with the actual website design process.

Let’s start by looking at reasons why the average website RFP document under-delivers:

  • The RFP lacks tangible details and focuses on the wrong information. Most of the RFPs I receive talk about the company’s creation, divisions, and other information that I can easily find on the About page of their website. Then the RFP will fail to provide key information about the actual project requirements. I don’t need to know your state of incorporation, but I do need to have a good understanding of your e-commerce needs such as product configuration, shipping requirements, and sales tax calculations.
  • The RFP limits contact between the client and design agency. Some RFP documents will clearly state a limitation on communication. And if I’m allowed a one on one call it is with an administrator who doesn’t actually know the ins and outs of the website’s current or future functionality. This is a major issue and it is a huge red flag for me. I need to be able to talk to you about your project, so I can help formulate a solution. I also want to get a feel for the people behind the company so I can determine if we are an adequate fit. As my client, you’ll spend a lot of time talking with me and my team throughout the design and development process, so I want to make sure our personalities fit. It may sound silly, but this likability factor absolutely influences the success rate of projects.
  • The RFP requirements and budget are out of sync. I have literally had people ask for a “Facebook like” website and then tell me their budget is minimal. Ok folks, Facebook did not become the powerhouse it is with a minimal budget. If your budget is low, that’s okay. We just need to make sure your requirements list is in line with the allowable budget.
  • The RFP requires a great deal of superfluous information. If you want to know if I have professional liability insurance, I do and I’m happy to answer that question because it pertains to your project and the need to limit risk. I will even provide a copy of my liability and my errors and omissions insurance certificates so you can validate my claims. If you need a complete resume for every member of the project team, I’m not going to provide it because it is irrelevant. Ask for information that provides value and not simply because it was part of a RFP template you downloaded from the web.
  • The RFP timeline is unrealistic. This is another showstopper for me, because RFP responses take time. They take time to understand the project needs and objectives, they take time to formulate a digital solution, and they take time to assemble an adequate response. I cannot do this within a week and if I do, my response will be weak. If your first attempt at the website RFP failed and you need to send it to a new batch of developers, adjust the date so that you can receive quality, well thought out responses.
  • The RFP is a boilerplate document. If you download an RFP template from the web, make sure you update it to match the nature of your company and the requirements of your project. Make it your own and make it work for your firm. The more time you put into crafting a strong RFP, the more time design agencies will take in replying to it.

Now let’s look at three core reasons design firms struggle with RFPs in general:

  • RFPs don’t work well for services like website design. They might work great for commodity products, but for highly customizable service projects, the RFP process creates a challenging process flow that limits discovery and the personalized creation of a solution.
  • RFPs tend to focus on price and not solutions. No matter how hard I try to put a positive swing on website RFPs, the bottom line is a lot of the vendor selection will be made on price and timing. The danger in this is in communities like WordPress have a wide range of service providers that vary from very cheap, bottom feeders to very high-end design agencies. If you allow price to be a major part of the decision process, you could very well end up with a developer or design agency that lacks the abilities to execute. Your website is your path to the digital world and provides an avenue for you to reach an endless number of prospects and customers. It is your most important digital asset and this asset should not be defined by price alone.
  • Some IT managers use RFPs for research purposes and this degrades their effectiveness. At first I did not believe this statement and then I found myself in the middle of this situation. It was with a local B2B tech firm – my sweet spot – and once I was onsite with them I knew I was part of a research experiment into the viability of WordPress and not at all part of an actual selection process. I proved that WordPress was a viable solution and I spent an hour educating them on search engine optimization. After many failed attempts at follow up, I noticed the IT manager launch his own WordPress website utilizing the knowledge I provided and all done in-house. And it wasn’t done well.

There are lots of very good WordPress firms who won’t reply to RFPs and this is a problem. Clients are missing out on some very strong agency expertise, as well as missing out on acquiring some stellar WordPress talent.

If I could correct this for all parties, I would do so. Since I can’t, I’ll just pledge to faithfully reply to any website RFP that is solid.

Maximize the Quality of Responses to Your Website RFP

Let’s collectively change the way the world views and utilizes website RFPs. You can do that by providing strong RFP documents and I can assist by providing solution driven responses.

Let’s review some key data that should be included in the creation of a website RFP. These include, but are not limited to the following items:

  • Provide a brief company background. While agencies don’t need an entire company history provided, having a brief overview will help them get a quick baseline for who you are. Provide a link to additional information such as your website About page.
  • Describe your product or service offering. Having an understanding of what you offer helps agencies grasp some additional basics about the project. If the agency has prior experience with similar product or service companies, the team can start to make connections to prior work. An example of this would be my background with ERP software. If someone came to me with a project for ERP software, my mind will quickly jump to work within the ERP industry and best practices for selling to multiple stakeholders inside and outside of the C-level suite. I think about the pain points of their target audience and the marketing tactics that work with this type of sales process. I would think about white papers and software demos and very focused call to actions. And all of that happened because the RFP informed me about the product offering.
  • Describe your target demographic. Knowing your target demographic helps agencies understand factors like possible design style and accessibility requirements.
  • Discuss the project background. Discuss what is prompting the website redesign and what led you to issuing an RFP. If you’ve gone through this process already and have had failed attempts, let us know that too. This information will help us know if we are a suitable fit for you and the project itself. No one wants another failure, so the more we know about the history, the more we can help drive success.
  • Communicate the project goals and objectives. Talk less about the date your company was founded or the size of your organization and talk more about your marketing goals and objectives. This will help the design agencies create a solution that can meet your objectives and achieve these goals.
  • Discuss your problems and let the providers define the solution. RFPs that present selected technology (in WordPress this would be plugins) can only describe solutions that the client already sees. When you’re hiring a developer, you’re hiring them to come up with solutions that you haven’t been trained to see. If you explain your pain points and existing issues, the developer can create the best solution based on their experience and knowledge.
  • Require direct communication with your RFP recipients. Overly restrictive RFPs that discourage direct communication will most likely be ignored. As a possible technology partner, I want to build a relationship with you. This means I need to communicate with you one on one. If you are serious about an agency, let them get on the phone with key members of the internal project team so they can fully understand your needs and requirements.
  • Don’t dictate the RFP format. Designers and developers are creative folks. As such they don’t work well in restricted formats like an RFP response template that is many years old. Give the prospective agencies the required information and let them reply in a format that best articulates their capabilities, strengths, and solution.

Make Sure the Website RFP Includes Key Data Points About the Project

There are a few more items that I consider very important, although they can be sticky subjects.

All website RFP documents should include the following items:

  • Budget – Providing a budget range will help agencies understand their constraints. This let’s the estimating team know the scale in which they can propose solutions. This helps the developers know if they can create custom code or if they have to use an off-the-shelf solution that may or may not have all the required features. This also helps the design team quantify the process (wireframes and design comps) and volume of custom design (unique design templates within the website). It will also help prevent sticker shock when the proposal arrives.
  • Project timeframe – One of the most common issues agencies have with RFPs centers around timelines that are far too short. Unrealistic project timetables can force an experienced firm to exit the selection process simply because they know they cannot launch a successful project within the timeframe given. Provide a realistic timeframe or range so you can garnish the best responses.
  • Internal staffing and resources – Define your project team within the RFP so that the responding agencies can plan resources accordingly. An example of this would be a website redesigned combined with a learning management system (LMS) roll out. If you articulate that you would like to add an online course to your new website, but lack any in-house experience using an LMS, I know I should propose a resource who can help you tackle the LMS planning and architecture. It helps me help you, which in turn helps your project.

Discuss Known Requirements Within the Request for Proposal

When I create a website proposal, I like to have as many requirements known as possible. Some of these are generic, while others are very specific to the look and feel or the functionality of the website itself. The more details I have at hand, the more knowledgeable I will be about a project and the more precise I can be with creating solutions and offering estimates.

Help me help you. Provide lots of details around your functional requirements. Go into great detail so I can help present the best solution for you and your new website.

Here are some website requirements to consider when creating your website RFP:

  • Desired content management system
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Esthetics and/or inspiration websites
  • Functionality – e-commerce, forums, membership processing, learning management systems, etc.
  • Size and scope of content migration
  • Search engine optimization
  • Integration to third party software packages – Salesforce, Infusionsoft, Constant Contact, PayPal, Magento, etc.
  • APIs
  • Reporting requirements
  • Speed and performance
  • Accessibility and usability
  • Quality control and cross browser testing
  • Compliance considerations
  • Hosting
  • Ownership of code base
  • User training
  • Post launch service agreements

Define What is Required Within the Website RFP Response

Because different firms will have different proposal templates, help them create a document tailored to you by setting expectations for the response. I wouldn’t suggest you dictate the format, but I do suggest you provide a list of key proposal deliverables.

These RFP deliverables could include:

  • Approach to website design
  • Sample project plan at a high level
  • Tools used within project management
  • Project team list
  • Project budget
  • Payment schedule
  • Ongoing license fees
  • Project timeline
  • Post launch maintenance and support
  • Insurance requirements
  • NDA signatures
  • References
  • Minimum qualifications
  • Terms and conditions

Keep in mind the design agencies may not reply with all items listed by you in the RFP.

For example, I am happy to provide references, although I do not do so until I know we are on the shortlist of design firms. I do this to protect our existing clients so they are not inundated with requests for references. It is a courtesy to my clients and not an act of stubbornness.

Don’t Forget to Clearly Articulate Your RFP Schedule

One last reminder is to clearly define your RFP schedule, steps, and process. This can be efficiently done via a simple RFP schedule.

A sample website RFP schedule is as follows:

  • Issue date of website RFP
  • Vendor acknowledge and intent to bid
  • Submission of agency question
  • Responses to agency questions
  • Proposal responses
  • Agency finalist announced
  • Proposal presentations and/or interviews
  • Final agency selection
  • Contract signatures
  • Project start date
The Value of Content Before Website Design

The Value of Content Before Website Design

Website Designer

I’m a strong believer in preparing website content before initiating graphic design and this applies to both websites and blogs. Some will argue with me, but I’ll fight this battle and dig in because I know content before website design is the right approach.

I believe:

Strong website design extends past colors, fonts, and layout boxes.
Strong design focuses on the user.

Website design should be crafted around the user, their needs, and the desired outcome of a website visit. It should be focused on the user’s challenges and the website’s ability to solve these issues.

It should not be focused on coding trends and prepackaged templates.

Design Trends Come and Go, But a Focus on the User Should Not

I’ll receive emails from people discussing their website design requirements and many times these lists will be focusing on specific project criteria like infinite scroll, hamburger menus, hero images, video backgrounds, and motion.

Rarely do people approach a design firm and present data based on their visitors, the user’s needs, and the ultimate goals of a website visit.

Website owners get caught up in design trends, their competitors’ websites, and what they believe is modern and current design elements. In doing so, they lose track of the actual website visitor.

All too often people select a website template or blog theme and get caught up in the graphical presentation or bells and whistles it offers. It’s an emotional buy that supersedes the desire to help the actual website visitors.

Once they buy the stock theme, they force their content to fit within the template’s available content blocks. Or worse yet, they force a custom design to adhere to the same style and presentation of a top competitor’s website.

In most cases this leads to disappointment and buyer’s remorse.

The reason this occurs is this process follows the path of purchase, design, development, and finally content. That path is in the wrong order. The process is going backwards and it leads to frustration.

Content First Leads to Educated Design Decisions

Documenting your desired user flow, visitor paths, and call to actions is something that is typically done after the graphic design is completed. Unfortunately that’s the wrong approach because it forces you into matching content to the website theme or design. It should be just the opposite.

Before you find yourself falling in love with a competitor website, coveting a stock WordPress template, or reaching out to a graphic designer, you need think through the goals and objectives of your website or blog.

You need to document your user personas, their individual challenges, your solution offering, and the paths you’d like these visitors to take within the website.

While graphic design in very important, it must take place at the right time within the project to truly allow you to showcases the website, content, and offering in the best light possible.

One of my favorite quotes on this subject is:

“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” – Jeffrey Zeldman

Messaging and content are the building blocks and foundation of the website. This means they should be carefully thought through and documented well before any colors, fonts, and layouts are considered.

The design elements should complement, highlight, and showcase the key messaging and most important content.

Focus on the Right Content

While I am saying you should have content written before beginning design, I’m not saying that you have to have all your content written. That would be a difficult task to accomplish for most website owners and businesses.

I encourage clients to focus on core website sections and pages. During the sales process I usually go through their website and look for areas I think would benefit from custom design templates. These will vary based on the client, industry, and target demographic.

Here are some common areas that can benefit most from a content first strategy:

  • Home
  • Main about or company page
  • Main services page and individual service pages
  • Main storefront and individual product pages
  • Resource section, categories, and/or resource items
  • Personas
  • Landing page templates
  • Main blog page and individual blog posts
  • Contact page

Sometimes I’ll suggest just a few custom design templates and other times I’ll suggest fifteen to twenty. It really depends on the complexity of the content and the variations in the content flow and call to actions.

As we progress into a project with a client, we like to have as much information as possible on core elements and how these might be altered based on different areas of the website.

Content elements that matter in a content before website design approach:

  • Headlines and subheaders
  • Core messaging
  • Paragraph text
  • User personas and visitor paths
  • Call to actions
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Navigation
  • Social media accounts
  • Search engine optimization

The more your graphic designer knows and has available, the more unique and targeted your design will become.

Finding Balance

Not all situations will allow a content before website design approach. You have to find balance and you have to pick and chose your battles.

If this approach is going to be difficult, I suggest starting with universal elements such as navigation, SEO, and call to actions. Then begin narrow down the focus by reviewing user personas and their visitors paths.

Focus on known elements and weave these into design by starting with the home page and then allow the design to build from his central hub. While moving through this process, stay focused on the visitor, what they need, and what action you ultimately want them to take.

The process can seem overwhelming, but like anything in life, you need to break it into chunks and evaluate the large list bit by bit