If you ask a web designer, a creative director, and a copywriter whether they would prefer to begin a web design project with content or design, you are likely to get different responses. In a matter of seconds, website visitors scan content before digging in or clicking out. Your website must appeal to your target audience. What type of information are they looking for? Why should they come to you for help? What matters most in their world? Maintaining a sharp focus on these concerns will create additional opportunities for engagement.
Once you have gotten your visitors’ attention, your design elements and structure should amplify your content and guide them to conversion in a natural way. To address their range of needs, imagine your target audience as specific types of buyers, or buyer personas, which are fictional characters developed through market research that represent your ideal customers. Once you define who you are speaking to, you can develop a conversion path for each persona.
Exceptional Web design
How can you ensure your website design is exceptional? The layout, typography, color scheme, and imagery must complement your message, engage your personas, and initiate action. Let’s examine how each of these elements impact web design.
Layout – Perhaps the most important design decision is the layout. A professional web designer can help you select a layout for your website that will appeal to your personas. It is also very important that the design be responsive so that it will be an effective marketing tool on any size of display.
Content – Craft compelling headlines and use as few words as possible to convey your message. Use vocabulary familiar to your personas.
Color – Conservative navy blue or cool, refreshing sea green? The average age, gender, industry, and position of your personas will provide guidance for your ideal color scheme.
Typography – Add flavor to your message with traditional typefaces like Times Roman or stylized fonts like Impact but be sure that they display properly on any device or browser.
Imagery – Your photographs, illustrations, and/or videos should echo your core messaging and blend with your colors. Select imagery that will work with your responsive design.
Beginning with design instead of content guarantees that it will go through multiple rounds of revision to increase and decrease word counts, include, exclude, reposition, and resize multiple elements. The vision you had in mind will be a distant memory. You’ve been there. It’s not pretty.
When web design begins with content development, the team finalizes the tone and emphasis before any design decisions are made. The design team can focus on conveying the message in a way that appeals to the target audience, engages visitors, and provides a natural path to conversion. That is exceptional web design (without the headache).
My fire is fueled by the relationships I make, build, and cherish. I love hearing people’s stories, what makes them who they are, and where I fit into their lives. As the Content Services Manager at Leighton Interactive, I'm a storyteller. I’m lucky that I can use my natural ability to help people find their voices, tell their stories, and reach their goals so their businesses can get results. Outside the office I get excited to find sunshine, consume iced coffee, work out, or add unique pieces of jewelry to my ever-growing collection. I also tell stories on behalf of AAF and serve as District 8's Second Lt. Governor & NSAC chair.