10/02/2020

Why Brands Should Build Content-First Websites

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Article at a Glance:

  • A content-first approach to web design doesn’t imply that content should be emphasized at the expense of design.
  • A brand’s website is one of the most important platforms for customer engagement; with a content-first website strategy, brands will be in a stronger position to secure these outcomes.
  • If you want a user to stick around long enough to make an action, you have to capture and hold their attention. This starts with engaging content.
  • A brand’s website is a platform that allows brands to collect and analyze data on consumer behavior. The more engaging a website is, the more in-depth the data will be.
  • Great content is the centerpiece of your website – design and functionality are just ways to deliver that content as efficiently as possible.

While web design is a crucial aspect of high-quality user experiences, the most streamlined and visually arresting browsing experience in the world won’t matter if consumers aren’t fully engaged with the content they’re encountering. This is why brands should build the design, layout, and navigation of their websites around content and not the other way around. A content-first approach to web design doesn’t imply that content should be emphasized at the expense of design.  

When brands look at design through the lens of content, their approach to the look and functionality of their websites will be more coherent and effective. Every element of your website should be focused around the actions you want visitors to take, from purchasing products and services to providing feedback. Web design is one of the principal mechanisms for facilitating these actions – it isn’t an end in and of itself. 

In a world of endlessly proliferating consumer touchpoints, a brand’s website remains one of the most important platforms for interacting with customers and driving conversions. With a content-first website strategy, brands will be in a stronger position to secure these outcomes. 

Build your website with specific goals in mind

According to a 2019 study by Deloitte, more than 90 percent of the traffic on retailers’ websites doesn’t lead to conversions in a single session. This is a reminder that brands need to make it as easy as possible for consumers to make purchases, provide feedback, download content, and so on – they’re already disinclined to take action, so there should be no unnecessary obstacles that prevent them from doing so. 

While this may seem like a job for designers and programmers, it requires brands and marketers to think carefully about the content they feature on their websites. When consumers navigate to different sections of a brand’s website, they’re drawn in by the text, pictures, videos, and other forms of content they interact with. If you want them to stick around long enough to make a purchase or request more information, you have to capture and hold their attention. This starts with engaging content. 

But brands also have to build this content around specific calls to action. The path from the moment a user makes a decision to the execution of that decision should be as straight and clear as possible. This means every stage of the customer journey and every piece of content has to nudge consumers toward a set of desired outcomes. 

Content-first websites are driven by data

Despite the fact that companies have unprecedented access to consumer data, far too many are reluctant to put those data to use. McKinsey reports that 40 percent of companies “aren’t talking to their end users during development” while more than half say they have “no objective way to assess or set targets for the output of their design teams.” 

Through their websites, brands have access to powerful data collection and analytics. They should develop a content-first website that fully engages consumers and drives conversions. 

A brand’s website is more than a marketing tool – it’s a platform that allows brands to collect and analyze data on consumer behavior across a wide range of measures. Beyond the data brands can gather about purchasing decisions, customer pain points, and other issues directly related to their products and services, they can determine which elements of their websites are working and which ones aren’t. 

For example, they can track key engagement metrics like time on page and session duration, which reveal how well individual pieces of content are performing and how users perceive their digital experience as a whole. Marketers can also test the performance of dynamic text and images that are tailored to each individual visitor, which provides insights about the types of personalized content brands should deploy more broadly. 

Brands have access to powerful data collection and analytics tools provided by platforms like WordPress, and they should use those tools to develop a content-first website that fully engages consumers and ultimately drives conversions. 

Great content ties the whole customer experience together

Even when users have positive experiences with individual touchpoints, they can still have a negative experience overall. This is one of the most difficult challenges brands face when it comes to their websites: they need to offer consistent and coherent digital experiences to consumers who have extremely limited patience. 

Consumers are notoriously fickle when it comes to their tolerance for bad experiences – even if they love almost everything your website has to offer, a single annoyance or obstacle can be the difference between a conversion and an exit. One of the best ways to provide consumers with consistent experiences across the board is to implement a content-first web design strategy. Great content is the centerpiece of your website – design and functionality are just ways to deliver that content as efficiently as possible. 

There are many examples – from the seamless integration of videos and other multimedia to dynamic text and images that are customized to maximize each users’ time on page (as well as the likelihood of taking action). But no matter what types of content you deploy, you shouldn’t have a static design that your content has to be squeezed into – your design should be a flexible mechanism for promoting your content. 

Although the number of digital touchpoints is always increasing, brands still consider websites to be their main platforms for interacting with their customers online. A content-first approach to building those websites will help them secure specific business outcomes, learn as much as possible about their customers, and provide end-to-end experiences that keep people coming back again and again. 

About the author

Davythe brings a diverse array of web design experience to our team, having started his career as a freelance designer before working as a web marketing strategist at Cisco and then as a project manager at Edelman.