Your mom was wrong: Looks do matter, especially in the realm of content marketing. Whether you’re creating a microsite, writing blog posts, or making videos, your content Marketing design and appearance is going to either attract or repel your audience.
High-performance content marketing design goes beyond basic looks, though. How easy your content is to access and use also owes a lot to how you design it. As the New York Times puts it, good design marries both form and function. Or, as the Financial Times puts it, good design makes a product useful.
Without a thought for design, your content marketing isn’t likely to be much use to anyone.
What Is Content Marketing Design?
Content marketing design keeps the needs and desires of the user front and center at all times. The design of your content marketing refers to its layout and the imagery used. For example, there is a big difference in readability between a blog post that’s made up of huge blocks of text and a blog post that’s made up of bullet points and short paragraphs.
Content marketing design also helps to unify your content. If all your blog posts look similar, or if your videos have certain visual elements in common, it helps to create a visual look for your brand.
Content marketing design also helps to guide your audience. When you pay attention to design, you know where to place certain elements on a page so that they are more likely to be seen or noticed by your audience.
Characteristics of Great Content Marketing Design
According to Thomson-Reuters, 46 percent of people say that the design of a website is the top criterion in determining whether a brand or company is credible. If your website or blog looks like it’s straight out of 1999, people are going to back away and go somewhere else.
But what makes content marketing design great? Although it can seem like great design can’t really be defined, it can. There are several key characteristics you’ll find in every piece of well-designed content.
A clear path
The satirical website The Onion recently published a jokey piece about discount retailer TJ Maxx. The article claimed that the retailer was taking the same approach to online shopping that it did in stores. Items were splashed across the page with no rhyme or reason and no clear path for the visitor to take.
While the Onion was (as always) just joking, the imagined design of TJ Maxx is a great demonstration of why well-designed content needs a clear path. When you look at the image of the imagined TJ Maxx website, you have no idea where to go or what to click on first.
Consistency in content marketing design helps people become familiar with your content, and gives them an idea of what to expect when reading or watching what your brand has created. Visual consistency refers to using a single color palette across your content, using the same size type and the same font.
Your content can also have consistency in terms of tone or voice. If you regularly write in a conversational manner, but one day publish a blog post that’s super formal, you won’t have a consistent voice, and you might alienate some of your readers.
These days, your content needs to look good on a variety of screen sizes or you risk alienating or losing a portion of your audience. Responsive design (that is, design that adjusts automatically based on screen size) is a key part of high-performance content marketing design.
Minimalism/lack of clutter
Less is more in content marketing design. The fewer choices your audience has to make, the more likely they are to pay attention to the important things. Plus, clutter-free web pages, blog posts, and image-based content are a lot easier to look at and engage with than content that’s full to bursting with text, pictures, and video clips.
Part of giving your user a clear path through design is creating clear calls to action (CTAs). You want your audience to know where to click and why, and you want them to be able to find that button with ease.
Examples of Standout Content Marketing Design
Take a look at a few examples of well-designed content marketing and see what you can borrow to help improve your own content marketing.
Simple is an online bank that aims to help people reach their savings goals. It takes a less-is-more approach when it comes to its layout and aesthetic. And, you can clearly see that in its blog. The blog also offers a clear path for the user. The first thing you see is a tutorial for using Simple, followed by customer stories and finally blog posts offering money tips and advice. The blog’s design perfectly imitates the journey you might go on as a user of the app.
Tesco is a UK-based grocery store chain with a well-designed blog. It offers consistency in appearance, with the same font and font size used for each blog post, as well as images that are similar in tone and quality. A toolbar at the top of the page makes it easy for you to navigate to the topic of your choice.
When you visit Help Scout’s blog, you’re greeted by an image and link to one of its most popular articles. Below the big image is a series of other images, which link to other blogs. The site offers a consistent design in terms of font size and type and color palette. It’s also fairly easy to navigate and jump from topic to topic as you need.