Five tips to effectively pair content and design

4 minute read

When it comes to developing content strategies, many businesses prioritise two things: creating more engaging content (73%) and designing visual content (51%) .Without design, your content can look boring. Plus, 55% more people retain information when it’s paired with an image. And without content, your design may not be actionable. It may even be empty. If you want leads to convert to loyal customers, you need effective calls to action, for example.Your content strategy should consider content and design together. To make that happen, your content strategists, designers, and marketers need to work collaboratively with designers around a shared goal for the project and content.

Five tips to effectively pair content and design

When content and design are connected, the outcome for the audience is a better user experience (UX). Done wrong, you’re left with content that isn’t effective, neither meeting a business goal or a user need. If you’re ready to maximise your content creation and marketing strategies, check out the tips below to get your content team and designers on the same page.

1. Understand the purpose of both content and design

You may have an idea of what you want your content team and designers to achieve, but do they? What do you want your content and design to accomplish separately and together? An overall goal for your content may be to generate leads, retain customers, and increase small business revenue through useful and enticing information. But, you and your team need to further define your goals. So, what are the individual purposes of content and design?Examples of the purpose your content may serve include:

  • Engaging your audience.
  • Educating your audience.
  • Convincing your audience to take some sort of action.

Some examples of the purpose of design include:

  • Highlighting key text points.
  • Grabbing readers’ attention.

Content and design need to be considered together in relation to all channels and formats you will be publishing to.

Top Tip: Content educates readers while design helps them retain the information.

2. Solidify a starting point

Now to address the ongoing debate: Should you start with content, design, or both?Content. Content should come first. So, why is designing content first better for user experience? Here are a few reasons why according to Liam King:

  • Beginning with content validates UX designs.
  • Using content helps us recognise design constraints.
  • Starting with content eliminates the need for unrelated filler text (i.e., “Lorem Ipsum”).
  • Solidifying content streamlines the design process.

Content can act as a guideline for design. Otherwise, your designers may not know what direction to take a project in. Plus, solidifying content first can streamline collaboration. Design typically captures the most important parts of the content. And in my opinion, it’s easier to summarise something than expand on it. Your content creators should avoid editing the copy while the designer is working. Small edits are OK, but a major change to the copy can slow down the project and ruin the flow of the design.A void working on content and design simultaneously. Your teams may create completely different concepts. They may need to go through round after round of edits to get on the same page.

Top Tip: Start with content to streamline design, recognise constraints, and eliminate filler text.

3. Stay on top of deadlines through better workflow management

Do impending deadlines plague your team? Each party must be aware of roughly how long it takes the other to work through a project. They should understand one another’s workload and how the process works to avoid missing deadlines. You should also ask employees to speak up if their workload is too intense. Encourage your employees to create a content calendar so they can plan projects early. And, use a project management or tracking system to streamline communication. Better managing workflow is key to staying on top of fast-approaching deadlines. Our team was guilty of running into this challenge. A few years ago, we were not giving our graphic designer enough time to complete projects. At one point, we didn’t even notify her until the day before a project was due! After meeting as a group, we mapped out a more effective content strategy to give both parties plenty of time to collaborate.

Top Tip: Produce a content brief that lays out what’s needed, by whom, and when it’s needed by.

4. Broaden narrow mindsets

It’s easy for content folk and designers to have narrow and focused goals. After all, they’re experts in their respective fields for a reason. But for more effective content and design, both parties need to better understand the other’s discipline. Encourage your team to look beyond their copy and designs. They should study the other’s work to appreciate things like workload and ability. They may also have distinct opinions about how they want a collaboration to look. And, they might argue about whether content or design is more important. They may need to put egos aside and compromise to create the best content.

Top Tip: Get content and design on the same page by educating themselves on the other’s discipline.

5. Maintain a consistent brand

The content your writers and designers create should tell a story. Make sure they’re telling the same one. There’s a lot of back and forth involved when content teams and designers work together. The absence of interdepartmental communication and a standard style guide could lead to brand inconsistency. Create a set of standards—such as colours, icons, writing style, and fonts—for brand consistency.Make sure your content team and designers understand and utilise your business’s style guide. That way, they can hold one another accountable.

Top Tip: Use a style guide to make sure the brand is the central focus of both content and design.

Putting it all together

It’s no secret that good content and design makes for a better user experience. But when you have different departments collaborating, there might be a disconnect between content and design. To recap, here are a few things to keep in mind to effectively pair content and design (and give website visitors the user experience they deserve):

  • Understand the purpose of content and design.
  • Start with content before creating the design.
  • Manage workflow to stay on top of deadlines.
  • Get content teams and designers to understand one another.
  • Make sure your brand is consistent in both text and visuals.


Content Creation: The Essential Guide

Practical advice to help you create effective content for your audience and your business.

About the author

Rachel Blakely-Gray

Rachel Blakely-Gray is a content writer at Patriot Software, LLC. Patriot Software offers online accounting and payroll software for small business owners. You can find Rachel and the Patriot Software team on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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