At Imagine Monkey, we’re a full-service design company. Often, we field questions about what that means and, more specifically, what is included in “full-service design.” The short answer, and perhaps the easiest, is “all of the design’s architecture, the backend software and any content services that are required.” That answer, though, begs a host of additional questions, one of which is, “What are content services?”
In general, we break content services down into two categories: actual content and content strategy. While actual content is self-explanatory, there’s often a lot of confusion about, “content strategy.” Today, we’re going to look at content strategy, one of the most misunderstood aspects of great web design and one of the most difficult hurdles to jump when creating a new site from scratch. So, let’s start simply…
What is content strategy?
Content strategy is the planning, ordering and structuring of content in a way that ensures a meaningful, coherent user experience. If your website’s content is a house, its content strategy is the architecture that holds it all together. It is the frame that defines the shape of your “house.”
Because of this, content strategy is a crucial early step in the overall design process. By defining goals such as, “I’d like my website to attract new customers,” or “My custom website needs to raise awareness of my company,” your designer can approach the placement and phrasing of your content to accomplish your specific goals.
But why is it so important? Why not just write the content as you go?
Since your site’s content strategy acts as a frame for its content, moving forward without a strategic plan is like hunting for treasure without a map. If you want your visitors to be funneled towards a specific page, message or action, then you need to anticipate their movements and craft your site in a way that responds to those movements with pointed directions. And that, ultimately, is the most important function of content strategy: funneling visitors.
Above, we hypothesized a design client who wanted their website to raise awareness of their company. To accomplish that goal, a good content strategist will work backwards. In this case, we first determine that the page that will best fulfill that goal is the About page. From there, we design a strategy… one that casts a wide net on the landing page and then uses that net to funnel visitors into a narrower set of decisions that, eventually, leads them to the company’s About page.
At Imagine Monkey, we’ve been implementing successful content strategies into our small business web designs since 2007. Starting from the bottom and working our way up, we determine the core goal of every site before we begin designing. After that, every word we write, every icon we place and every column that we define works in service of that goal. It may take a bit longer and involve a little more labor but, in the end, the results have always justified the extra effort.