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Beauty or the Beast?

Beauty or the Beast?

It’s a tale as old as time:  form over function, content over design, chicken and the egg.

Should your website concentrate on design and user experience or beastly, massive amounts of content?  Which is more beneficial for your users, design and layout or copious amounts of information? As in all things, we find ourselves in a situation where moderation is the key.

Effective, smart websites are those that make intelligent use of design: they’re not cookie-cutter or bland; and they’re certainly not unattractive or severely out of fashion.  They make deliberate, intentional use of current technology to present content in a visually-appealing, user-friendly manner.  That, to us, is website beauty.

That said, effective websites also make strategic use of content.  Bigger is not better.  A beastly website, containing page after page (after page), or requiring click/tap after click/tap is not conducive to user behavior.  Website visitors want to find the information that they are seeking as quickly and efficiently as possible.  In fact, the average amount of time spent on a “good” website is just slightly over 2 minutes.  You can’t cram text in quantities as large as War and Peace into a website and expect that your website visitors will take the time to comb through your site to find what they’re looking for.  Instead, your website must be the epitome of to the point.  In a very obvious way, you must present quality, relevant, SEO-friendly content.  Successful websites do this in a way that is engaging, visually-appealing and true to the branding of the business…keeping in mind that branding refers to both the visual components of a business or organization as well as the tone of voice and language style.

So what if you have a massive amount of content that you absolutely need to include on your website?  Perhaps you are a very large business with multiple locations, e-commerce, and/or a highly varied targeted audience.  Should you cut content just for the sake of being succinct?  Not necessarily.  Instead of leaving out potentially important content from your website, reconsider the manner in which you’re presenting the information.  Websites allow for information to be shared through text, images, animations, downloads, external site resources, and offer a host of options with respect to subtle effects and interactions throughout the website’s experience.  Take advantage of the latest technology in professional web design to convey emotions, thoughts, suggestions, and promotions in ways that draw the user in rather than evoking a sense of work in trying to absorb all of the content that your website is sharing.

Here are some other ways to effectively present content on your website:

The Bullet Mindset Is Your Friend.  While you don’t have to style your website’s text in bullet points, you should think in terms of them when you’re composing your website’s copy.  What are the key points that you’re trying to make?  Which words within your paragraphs are the most powerful?  Are you being overly redundant in the message that you’re trying to convey?

Be Conversational.  Even highly technical-themed websites do not have to speak in a foreign language to present their content.  Website visitors are more inclined to keep interest in your site if they feel that the information is being presented in a natural, conversational language style.  It’s ok to present technical information in a way that’s more in line with how we all communicate, in person.  In fact, using a style of language that’s more conversational in nature will make the site feel more personal.  The more the user feels of a personal connection with the content, the more the user will be engaged, focused, and genuinely interested in your message.

SEO Starts Here.  The most critical aspect to your organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) lies within your website’s content.  The copy that you use throughout your site will be related back to search phrases.  Use this to your advantage.  Construct your website’s content in a way that efficiently communicates your brand while anticipating how users will find your website.  What types of search phrases do you think users could use frequently when interested in products and services such as those that you provide?  How can you incorporate those anticipated behaviors into your website’s content?

Focus On What Matters.  While your website can present content of any aspect of your brand, there’s no need to use the “unlimited” space of your website just because you have it.  Keeping short attention spans in mind, construct your website’s core content around what matters most – to your potential customers or clients!  Direct the tone of voice, subject matter, and prominent areas of your website to the key messages that will best relate to both your potential customer or client and your brand.

Apply Logistics.  Today’s websites can become extremely customized to your individual visitors.  By developing your content in a way that allows users to select areas that are relevant to them, specifically, you can present potentially large amounts of information and overall content in ways that do not bombard all users, right from the start.  Instead, information is strategically delivered to the user in a way that is directly relational to their interests.  Their selections on your site open areas of more content within that same theme or topic.  This is where working with a professional content developer for your website is crucial.  Applying logistical content maneuvers on your website requires skill within your website’s development process as well as the site’s layout and design.

Just because you can create a whale of a website doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do.  Just because you can create a visually stunning website experience that may, in turn, compromise functionality or relevance to your site’s content, doesn’t make it a smart idea.  Instead, consider how your website’s beauty can work hand-in-hand with your website’s content and its delivery.  If you’re working with a large amount of content and know that your website is going to skew towards the larger side, be sure to work with a professional website design and developer who can help you find just the right balance of style and delivery.  It doesn’t have to be function over form or beauty over brains.  Great websites create a harmony between the two that draws your website users in and makes happy to be your guests.

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