Make it Pretty

Make it Pretty

There’s a lot of ugly content out there. Even though we were always told not to judge a book by its cover, that’s exactly what we do when we evaluate things online. And, it’s a problem when content creators overlook how critical the importance of design is. Websites, blogs, videos, and social channels are all delivery systems for content, and if yours isn’t looking so hot, there’s a chance it’ll get lost in a sea of endless scrolling. So where do we focus so others will focus on us?

Design for your users*

Who’s looking at your stuff? It’s a simple question that’s overlooked way too frequently when it comes to design. Putting your website on your packaging, for example, may seem like the right thing to do, but here are a few considerations that often go overlooked:

— Will the user be viewing this content from a mobile device or a desktop device more frequently?

— What information are they expecting to find at the destination given the interaction that gets them there?

This goes beyond making things look pretty with the help of your friendly neighborhood design team – it touches on UX as well. It’s bad enough to drive mobile users to your website when it’s only a desktop site, but it’s almost worse to bury important content in a place where they’ll never find it. Good designers know this and do it all the time, so in-housers take note: you get what you pay for, and it’s worth tossing a little extra here.

The takeaway: Consider all parts of the user’s transaction, and build the experience accordingly. If you’re delivering content via mobile, know how (and why) the look & feel need to be different than content via desktop.

*Insert Tron “fight for the user” reference here.

Consider the brand identity

Who is your brand, and what are you trying to say? And, where are you trying to say it? If you’re a modern, young, cool brand, it probably doesn’t make sense to have a corporate, sterile website. Similarly, using nothing but random stock photography for each of your social posts misses the opportunity to leave a mark on your audience… and it looks sloppy.  Visual storytelling is the hot new thing, but honestly, it’s for good reason. Design can say a lot without any words at all, and the way your brand comes across often times starts with imagery… not text. How do you want your brand to be seen? What elements will make it relatable and interesting to your potential consumers (read: your audience)?

The takeaway: Employ your own brand standards. Define a style that’s uniquely yours… and stick to it. Don’t use filler for the hell of it.

Don’t abuse image placement

If you’re loading up your blog posts with photos, or attaching one to every single Facebook post you make, you’re probably doing it wrong. We’ve been bombarded with research & heat maps that tell us blogs are only successful when they have images attached, Facebook photo posts have a higher EdgeRank score, and hi-res images are the most attractive options for a landing page. I have to wonder, though (as should you), what value these senselessly placed images hold. How does sourcing stock photography about ice cream support my social post about ice cream? Sure, it may boost its reach, but does it boost the impression of my brand to those people, or make them want to interact with me more? Reach is pretty pointless if those on the other side of the screen aren’t taking any actions.

The takeaway: Unique content shouldn’t stop with a catchy headline. Provide value with your design assets & your content will seem even more important. Mind your image usage frequency to avoid spamming.

[alert style=”green”] What you need to know: Design is just as important to digital strategy as content. Communicating who your brand is & why they matter visually will make your content even more compelling… and will justify why people should pay attention to you over someone else. [/alert]