It’s no secret, web design matters. In fact, it’s what Social HubSite is based around and advocates for: solid web designs based on proven themes with powerful plug-ins to increase functionality.
We know that the way your site looks and how users are able to navigate determines their experiences and, in some cases, how successful you site is overall.
But, what about content? What importance do you place on the actual words your visitors will read…the way you express what your company, brand and community stands for?
Think about it. Your words are the way your website’s design and functionality meet. It’s what sets you apart from your competitors and is the first way you’re able to connect with potential clients and customers (without a face to face conversation).
A recent article from Net Magazine entitled “Web Industry Warned; Don’t Forget the Power of Words,” got me thinking about this. Take a look at the excerpt below.
Two industry figures have warned people creating websites to remember the power of words.
Industry Mailout product manager Justin Jackson created This is a web page, a short piece comprising only of words. He remarked that “the most powerful tool on the web is still words,” and said people had become “obsessed with fancy designs, responsive layouts, and scripts that do magical things”.
His point wasn’t that everyone in the industry should party like it’s 1995, but that more care should be taken regarding communication, clarity and simplicity, perhaps initially iterating on a single page.
“If you’re a web designer, or a client who is working with one, I’d like to challenge you to think about words first,” he said. “Instead of starting with a style guide or a Photoshop mockup, start with words on a page.”
Mozilla developer evangelist Christian Heilmann concurred in a piece called Use your words. He suggested people too often “squander the opportunity that is the web” by clogging it with garbage, often comprising animated GIFs, videos and badly-optimised JPEGs.
Heilmann was concerned and disappointed about “moving into a world where people stop using text and words to describe their feelings, ideas and plans and — well, communicate with others”.
He added that shifting away from words can also cause connectivity and accessibility issues, and reminded that search engines prefer text, meaning discoverability (versus fleeting viral fame) is more likely through the use of words.
“It baffles me to see that we have a worldwide communication network with a very low barrier to entry and nearly no expense on publishing,” he said, “and we don’t use it to better ourselves, to make us better communicators”.
It seems from this, and from my experience, that words and design must work hand in hand. One should not overpower the other, yet both are critical for a lasting site.
When working with your site, think of the following:
1. Keep it Simple
You want your design to flow and to stand out, but making it the focus pulls away from your messaging. Work on a simple, strong design for best results.
2. Spread Your Message
Use words to promote your message. Put your mission statement all over your site, incorporate it into the content you create. Keep your visitors informed at all times.
3. Reach Beyond Your Site
E-newsletters are one way to help your message spread beyond your physical site. By using your email list to reach out to members on a regular basis through an ongoing content scheme, you’ll be forcing them to read what you have to say (apart from your design).
Need a little help to make sure your message is spread in the way you want, while ensuring your design works with that message? Contact your Social HubSite advisor today!