User Experience Relies on a Content Strategy as well as Design

8th March 2019 / 5 minute read

Great User Experience (UX) isn’t just about design anymore. It relies on the collaboration between designers and content curators.

A content strategy focusses on aligning copy, imagery and videos.

All three of these content elements are central to influencing a user. It’s essential that you have a strategy in place to ensure that all content elements support you in achieving your objectives.

Content though should always be the first point to consider in any design project. Once you have confirmed your website’s copy, then it can be moved into a design.

Why content strategy is fundamental to UX?

In the digital world, writers can often be caught up in word count requirements and contradictory UX and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) best practice.

A lot of content is off-putting in UX, but great for SEO.

Too little content is not good enough in SEO, but great for UX.

It’s a bit of a nightmare for content curators. So how do we overcome this?

Here’s how: your user needs to be your priority, whether your focus is on UX or SEO. Search engines are clever and they’re always adapting. Users are a focal ingredient in SEO, so get out the mindset of meeting word counts and keyword stuffing and focus on your audience.

Unrelatable content will provide a poor user experience. You want people to experience, appreciate and benefit from your content. Having a content strategy will sort this for you.

Three tips to ensure your content strategy encourages a good user experience, and benefits your SEO:

Put your users first.

Content curators should respect the fundamental aspect of UX design – the user.

At the earliest stage of planning a UX designer and content curator should come together to form user personas.

Think of your typical user, identify their browsing habits/ambitions and you’ll be able to produce copy to fit with their needs.

Architect content structure.

Before producing any content you must consider the structure of your copy.

Information hierarchy is vital for all media – valuable information must be prominent in the copy (and the design). Quality presentation will help, but it relies on more than just looking pretty. Content structure will help a user to interact with the most important information.

Content structure will not only improve readability, but support user comprehension. The psychology behind online content consumption is what will help you to connect with your differing users through your content structure.

Kathryn Aragon wrote a very interesting blog on how to write landing pages for different types of readers. She says there are three, which I agree with – ReadersScannersBottom-line viewers. When structuring content you must always consider these three types of users.

Don’t be afraid of headings and paragraphing. And ensure that each section of your structure points to the meaning of your content.

Find out more about the three types of readers in Kathryn Aragon’s blog.

Make content clear, easily digestible.

Enhancing content readability doesn’t rely on making copy shorter. It relies on making it readable, noticeable and simple to scan.

Breaking up content is essential to making content easily digestible.

From the point of view of online copy, you can do so with the support of impactful headers and supporting sub-headers. You must consider your users’ browsing habits and desired objective. Especially on a website or blog, a user wants answers quickly. From shopping for a product to finding out a recipe.

I wrote a blog last year which focussed on NOT writing your website content for humans or bots. There’s a really key area in this blog that resonates with the topic of content readability and target audience:

Decisions are made about websites and their content in seconds. Information on your website must be clear, concise and easily readable. You can achieve this through writing for readers who scan rather than read.

When words and visuals come together.

Words can’t achieve a positive user experience alone.

My three tips are significant to forming a content strategy that shares user experience standards. Combine those with the ambition of a designer and you will see that the two complement each other.

Designers want freedom to design. The content they receive plays a huge part in their wireframing. If the content is long and bulky, it will negatively impact their UX design. Which is often why writers can spend hours to put messaging together, only for it to be edited and cut down once in the wireframes. Or the need to provide more messaging.

Content on a doc is completely different to copy on a website wireframe.

User behaviour has changed.

There’s been a shift in the way people experience content. Users consume information quickly and want their answers fast. The UX Magazine puts it nicely:

Users consume all the necessary information in a different way altogether—skimming replaced reading and glancing replaced skimming. This means most users just welcome content that can be understood within a glance.”

How can you catch the attention of ‘glancers’ out there?

Through the combination of copy and design.

If it isn’t clear yet, content and design must communicate together, which is also known as information interplay.

A designer’s job is to make sure important information stands out. That way, a user will be able to find what they’re looking for easily.

A writer’s job is to ensure information is communicated concisely.

We have visual design as a communicator and content as a supplier of information.

Combine the two and you’ve got yourself information interplay. Combine the two and you’ll create a journey for users. Have your designer and content writer working together and you’ll create an effective and positive UX design.

Design does not define content and content does not define design. They must become one.

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