Expert opinion: How design, functionality and content of a website should work together.
Websites are a major tool for any business. We interviewed Moiz Sitabkhan, CEO at Conceptualize to understand how design, functionality and content should all work together.
1: Content is believed to be the heart of a website. Why is it that some brands tend to leave it to the end?
There could be several reasons for this – strict deadlines, the need to first see something visually appealing, last minute decisions and so on, or it could be that they really had no content to work with in the first place. The reality is, content drives traffic and if that is the heart of your business objective, leaving content until the end and not planning for it would be a mistake.
2: When it comes to website planning and development, where do you think is the best place to start?
At Conceptualize, we lay great emphasis on planning and strategy – the first step is conducting relevant research and analysis based on business goals and the target audience. This research works towards the plan and sitemap creation for your site and is the information architecture that dictates content. To answer your question, the best place to start is research – it allows you to plan the way forward accordingly. In case you already have a website and are looking at redesigning it – this would be an easier exercise as you would already know what is lacking in your content layout.
3: How important is strategic thinking in the website content development process and the user experience?
The crux of site creation is the strategising on all aspects of website design and development, especially the content and user experience. Like any other business aspect, without a strategy and a plan, things fall apart. Start thinking strategically about the end-to-end user journey from day one.
4: What are the benefits of putting content first?
The design or user interface (UI) for any website is elastic. A clever UI is something that is adaptable to the user. If your design team has access to the final content, they will be able to create an intelligent interface that users can use more effectively.
5: At what stage do you believe a brand needs to start focusing on content?
Let’s first establish that content is different from copy. In a B2B environment, what the brand actually creates, is copy. This is straightforward, one-sided communication. Content is when you start to engage the audience and create meaningful conversations. In my opinion, a brand needs to concentrate on copy upfront and concentrate on content creation constantly.
6: How can website content be best aligned with market/audience needs?
There are two kinds of readers – the first is your physical target audience, interested in the products and services of the brand. The second are better known as ‘spiders’ on the Internet. They are constantly reading copy and content of every page on a website to determine search engine rankings. Research and determine who your target audience is and align your content towards this group. Speak to them via your copy and content, and with the use of specific keywords and terms, make sure you feed the spiders as well – if you aren’t found on search engines, you don’t exist!
7: Is the element of storytelling as important a component of web content as it is in print?
Storytelling is the basis of good design and capturing the attention of your audience. It’s what we call the ‘Grandpa effect’, a term coined due to the comfort and familiarity that comes with stories by your granddad. You’re engrossed in the tale and believe it completely. Imagine if you could create the same impact with neatly laid out formats, great design and well-written content on a website. Storytelling is usually the best strategy.
8: What are the risks brands run when content is pushed towards the end of the website development process?
If actual content is left till the end, it means the UX and the UI have been designed based on assumptions and website development, functionality and overall look and feel, will be representative of those assumptions. If these assumptions do not reflect reality, things will be quite a mess. Fixes, hack and patches will be added in at the last minute in an attempt to make things look good, as opposed to work smart. If assumptions are met 100% – then you just got lucky!
9: How important is blogging in the current online business sphere?
Search engine dynamics have changed greatly in the last two years. SEO is all about website content – new creation, regular updates and relevancy. A blog becomes an excellent tool to feed search engines with new information that can help your brand rank higher. Moreover, writing great content, which educates the audience and creates the “wow” effect, makes it immediately worth sharing. The more your readers share content on social media, the more reach your brand has organically.
10: Tell us about some of the recent websites you’ve seen that are strong from an all-round perspective.
With all the many changes constantly taking place, it’s hard to say. Regionally, I’m quite impressed with the Emirates NBD website. In my opinion, it’s an all round winner. I also recently came across this site, which is simply amazing in its story telling aspect.
11: Everyone has heard that “Content is King” – do you think that is true or just a myth?
Content is what people will read, it is what will get you traffic. But it usually takes two to three seconds for a person to create an impression about the brand and the website, which make them decide if they want to stay or leave. Capturing user attention in those seconds so they stay to read the content – that is the most critical aspect. Combine great design with captivating content to ensure an unforgettable user experience. That will create the memory hook in consumer minds to ensure they return to your site.
To learn more, visit www.conceptualize.ae