+44 7879 440170 helen@unlikelygenius.com

Content design as a discipline in its own right is still a relatively new concept, so as a result there is still a lot of confusion and miscommunication out there about what content design actually is, believing everything from it being some kind of editing role, to marketing, to graphic design.

During my time working in this field I have heard many a myth be stated outrightly as fact and so decided it is time to try and bust a few myths open about what content design is, how it should be approached and where it should sit in the design process.

Here we go. Hold on tight, it may be a bumpy ride.

 

1. “The content can just be added later”

Content should be added as early as possible in the process, and the dreaded Lorem Ipsum banished to the dirty, dark depths of a swamp. A page without content is literally just boxes and buttons. There is little point in testing a service or website without the content being in existence and as up-to-date as you possibly get it at the time of testing. It may not be as polished as your nan’s sideboard, but make sure it is there in the best capacity it can be.

Test all elements of the service in synchronicity; looking at how they work together to give each other context, affect the users understanding of the content within its rightful setting and help the user to reach their end goal.

 

2. “Marketing <or other experts> can provide the content”

Wrong! So wrong! Content should be user-focused – something that marketers are not. They are business-focused. They look at how can they increase sales/engagement/sign-ups, etc. A content designer looks at the customer needs (and their wants) and looks at how they can be delivered in the right way. It is fine for a marketer to provide some information, but a content designer should then check the message, motivation, call to action, tone of voice and much more to ensure this aligns with the users’ needs, rather than those of the business.

 

3. “Content design is just another name for copywriting”

Content design and copywriting are two very different skills. Content design is not so much about creating words from scratch (though can have an element of this) but is more about planning, managing and formatting content that is in some form of existence already. It can include altering the tone of voice, putting the information into an appropriate format and using data and user feedback to guide direction. According to the good ol’ Google dictionary copywriting is defined as “the activity or occupation of writing the text of advertisements or publicity material”. See. Different.

Content design can also be confused with editing or proofreading, and though yes there are elements of these, that is not the full scope of a content designer.

 

4. “It’ll only take 20 minutes to do, they just need to change a few words”

See the point above. It is not a quick check for erroneous capital letters and commas. (And no I am not saying editing and proofreading only takes 20 minutes or is just this – them dudes have got some serious skills). But content needs planning, testing, feedback, and team discussion. Everyone on your team should be involved, Grammarly is not a content designer’s only friend. Join the group hug people. Be a preppy cheerleader for your content designer.

 

5. “We don’t need a content designer, we know what we want to say”

Maybe you do know what you want to say. But do you know the best way to say it and is it what the audience want to hear? The right tone, medium, and timings can be everything. Ensuring that your message fits with your brand and ethos at the same time as sending out your message is also key here.

But that can’t be all I hear you cry! The good news is, it doesn’t end there. Watch out for the follow-up post later this week for another 5.