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The importance of design and content working together

Do you remember that first time you used Uber, and marvelled over that little Prius weaving its way to you? Or that time you found that perfect bbq playlist on Spotify? You might have said to yourself  ‘boy that’s a well-designed app’. You’d not be completely wrong. It’s inevitable a great product would be designed to be visually appealing. But the silent hero is the copy and content. Without the messaging or instructions being appropriate, helpful, and charismatic you’re unlikely to appreciate the ‘design’ as much. So in an ideal world creatives, designers, copywriters and content strategists should be best buddies, working in tandem.

Concepts still need content

Creating beautiful designs without the content having any depth or relevance is like gift-wrapping an empty box. Take a quick look at Dribble or Behance, there’s alot of stuff there right? The great designs on these sites rise to the top because they have smart or relevant copy. Even when creating concepts, you should try to address critical communications points. It will help you sell in value of design and avoid your design looking like creating digital stage sets, that will fall over under closer inspection.

Space for creativity

Good content is elevated to great content when it’s designed and delivered with finesse and panache. Look back at iconic campaigns that have become part of modern culture, Levis, Absolute, VW, Apple. The copy and message are in harmony with the art direction, both supporting each other without one feeling overlooked. In the era of data dominance, where metrics dictate what’s said and where there’s often the danger of undervaluing the craft in both disciplines. It’s important to value data, but not exclusively. Without the unknown, we risk those moments of brilliance, emotion or silliness happening less and less.

Apple Imac

So what can we do to ensure design and content bring the best out of each other. Here’s a few tips and some deeper reading.

Start early:

Don’t bring a content designer or copywriter into a project as an afterthought to tidy up mediocre copy. Let them have creative say and contact with the client to really understand and communicate the brand. Equally, don’t think of design as a finishing touch. It needs to be integral to a project, from beginning to end. Automattic’s lead designer John Maeda talks at length about the perils of ‘spray on design’.

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What’s your purpose:

Define clear goals of who you want to reach and how you can better understand their needs, and how they might like to be spoken to. How do you want a customer to feel when they click a button or browse your navigation? Is this in harmony with the brands values and goals?

Remember everything is content:

As Jared Spool covers in depth in this article. Content isn’t just a blog post or media page. Just because an author didn’t slave over a Terms and Conditions page it doesn’t mean it isn’t important ‘content’ for the user. Unglamorous pages like faqs and delivery info can make or break a customers commitment. If these pages are not prioritised in search or databases and given equivalent design love, you could be leaving uninspiring dead ends in your user journeys.

Sweat the small stuff:

With digital products, there has never been more opportunities to create great design and copy. Think about how many micro-interactions happen in an online transaction. Make every message and visual is a little design piece in its own right. These may seem tiny but people remember the small stuff and they make a users experience better. Which mean more love for your brand or product.


So thats a quick snapshot of tips, but if you’d like to learn more about using content and design effectively maybe you’d enjoy our upcoming Pace event? With speakers covering audience segmentation, quality versus quantity, how data and content play best together, workflow, content strategy and monetisation. Find out more here.

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