“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content
is not design, it’s decoration.”
For a website to be successful it must be findable, likable and usable. Findable is all about SEO, Search Engine Optimization. Likable and usable are all about design. Today there are so many visually stunning websites on the internet but so many make the same mistake – considering the design before identifying the message. Imagine paying an architect to design a building before knowing what the building is for. Sounds absurd but in the web world it happens all the time. All the focus is put on what the site should look like before any content has been written. There is a lot wrong with that approach.
Form Follows Function
The adage applies to web design as much as to architecture. In other words, the first step in designing a website is writing the content. That means thinking about what you do, who you do it for and what’s unique about the way you do it. Then writing it down. This approach will ensure that your content is not being unduly influenced by the design. Once your content is written and finalized, a design can be created that is appropriate for the subject matter. Simply put, a website’s content should inform its design, not the other way around. Jeffrey Zeldman, one of the pioneers of web standards puts it this way:
“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”
Is it possible to start with a beautiful design then try to make the content fit? Yes, but like the building pictured, it will eventually cave in on itself.
It’s important to organize your content into logical themes. This will make it easier to implement an intuitive navigation system that will make it easy for your visitors to quickly find the information they came to your site to find. And it will make it easier for Google’s search bots to find and index your pages.
A good design should:
- be visually compelling
- use supporting graphics
- use a color palette appropriate to the subject matter
- use relevant engagement objects
- should not so busy that it overpowers the content and overwhelms the user
Think About Your Bounce Rate
SEO and good web design go together. One without the other is like a three legged stool with one leg missing – it won’t stand up. What does good design have to do with SEO? Simple. If visitors to your site decide they don’t like what they are seeing or how the website “feels,” they will leave before going any further. The percentage of users who do this determines your site’s bounce rate. When Google sees a site with a very high bounce rate it will conclude that your site isn’t giving users what they came for and your site’s page rank will be negatively impacted.
Make it Mobile Friendly
Google has been very clear on this. Site’s that are not designed to be optimized for display on mobile devices will be penalized. As with all things Google, it’s not clear just how serious a penalty you might suffer. Don’t gamble. Make sure your site is mobile friendly. Not sure if it is or isn’t? Here’s the url to Google’s mobile friendly test site:
Just type your domain name into the field provided. Google will churn away for a few minutes and then let you know if your site is properly optimized for display on mobile devices. If it isn’t, Google will let you know why it isn’t and what you need to do about it. The easiest way to deal with this is to let Kaneworks take care of it for you.