5 Ways to Complement Content and Design for Increased Website Conversion

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Form and function in any structure going hand-in-hand is a well-established concept.

A website is also a type of structure, albeit not a physical one, and its main purpose is to house content. It follows, then, that well-designed website should have great content. Unfortunately, many website designers don't think that way. They create fabulous website designs only to find out that it does not complement the content, and the website, and thus the design, fails in its purpose.

The average browser, you see, is more involved with the content than the design. They will only notice the design when it gets in the way of their reading experience, such as when the background is too busy, or it takes too long to load. It can be frustrating for the serious artist, but that is the way the ball bounces, and the earlier one gets with the program, the earlier great website design can be accomplished.

It is understandable, as website design is a very young profession, and it grew out of a highly technical one, programming. They are wired to think only of the form, because in programming, function follows the form; that is, the application runs the way it is programmed. Websites do not work that way, though. Content is not an integral part of the design, but they are inseparable when it comes to websites.

In this instance, form follows function. Finding ways to have a great design that complements great content is crucial for the success of any website, especially one that seeks to convert.

Here are some strategies website designers can use to avoid frustration of seeing all their hard work go down the drain into inactive website limbo.

#1: Base Design on Actual Content for Better User Experience.

Some website design experts are convinced that website design is secondary to content. That makes perfect sense, since the main purpose of the average user is to read the content and not admire the design.

Using dummy text (the infamous Lorem ipsum) in designing a website is dangerous, because it can lead to design flaws. Some argue that the website design should support actual content, so it is important for a web designer to work with actual content when making the design.

If you are designing a website for a client, insist on having home, about, and other static content available. This will set the tone and attitude of the website.

#2: Highlight Content without Sacrificing Design

That said, website designers still need to find a way to implement an attractive design without compromising the user interface of the content.

A good design is when many users respond positively to an attractive website without in any way taking attention away from the content. A design that distracts the readers from the content is a bad design , no matter how beautiful it is. One example is the Snow Fall page of the New York Times. It took a full 6 months to create that page, something that most website owners do not have the resources to do. In the end, it is not even purposeful because it distracts audience from reading the content thereby creating an imbalance of design for attention.

In addition, such complex customization is a problem for people who have to maintain the website. Most websites use templates where it is a simple matter of filling in the blanks. The problem with some designers is that they do not consider the content management side of a design. Simple designs tend to be limited, while custom designs tend to be clunky. Designers have to strike a balance between a great looking website and a structure that is easy and flexible when it comes to content creation.

The solution to the simple and limited vs. custom and complex is to use a modular content structure, in which content is added in blocks that can be moved around, rather than in pre-determined segments in a set template. These content blocks can contain text, images, videos, and so on.

A web designer can work with these tools to create suggested layouts without in any way taking control away from the content creator. The basic design can remain intact even as content creators rearrange the blocks as needed. Modular content blocks is a dynamic and new approach to design and content management that web designers can look into to make their lives easier.

#3: Keep Content On-Brand and Design Consistent

Aside from strategies for creating a website that is well-designed and content creation friendly, designers also have to take into account the user experience.

Studies show that the typical user will "bounce" from a page that takes more than three seconds to load, or too hard to navigate. Users put a premium on their website experience, so a designer has the responsibility to create a positive one as far as design is concerned.

Aside from having logical navigation and appropriate use of images and videos, the best way to do this is to keep the design consistent and on-brand. It should have the same look for all pages for a smooth browsing experience, and it should deliver the same message throughout the website. Making it easy for the user to use and like the website helps conversion to no end.

There are several tools that can help you churn great content for your website:

  • Wridea - This idea management and service allows you to brainstorm for relevant topics to your niche. This enables you to organize concepts and ensure that you do not digress from your niche and veer off-topic.
  • ClicheFinder - Most people are guilty of writing cliches. This won't convert your visitors to customers and may not even reflect well for your brand. Use this tool to find cliches you might otherwise have missed.
  • BestEssays - While having spell check and grammar tools are good, it is still best to have real people do the editing for you. This site offers both proofreading and editing services by professional writers so that you need not worry of mistakes you might make. You also get the bonus of having people improve your content for better conversion.
  • Easel.ly - Content is not just about text and words on your website. This include multimedia like infographics. This tool can help you create visual content that is on-brand.

#4: Look at the Big Picture

Designers are not just about creativity; they are also about psychology.

Designers aim to elicit a response from its audience, and this is especially true for web designers because the design plays an important role in paving the way to better conversion. Designers operate on many principles, but for the purpose of user perception, the Gestalt (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) design laws come into play.

The reason for this is human psychology. People tend to look at the whole of a thing such as website, before it hones in on the individual parts. It is therefore a good strategy for designers to look at the big picture always when they compose the elements of their design to convey the right message. For example, if you want people to register, you can use the Law of Common Fate to guide them to the right box by using arrows or other directional cues in groups.

#5: Never Stop Testing

The main purpose of a commercial website is to convert visitors into clients in whatever form appropriate. It could be a buyer, member, or participant. The point is, the user must take some action, and the website is the arena where this occurs.

Some websites are more successful than others at this, and a good reason for this is the use of content marketing and conversion strategies. However, there is no hard and fast rule for creating a web page that will guarantee conversion.

Some audiences respond well to hard-sell tactics of the traditional landing page where conversion is a requirement to receive the rewards, while others don't like it. On the other hand, the "soft sell" of a content marketing strategy helps the website develop a rapport with visitors but fall short in actually converting them into customers.

It usually requires a delicate balance of the two strategies in combination that caters to the target market of a particular website and increase online sales . As a designer, you have to look for that sweet spot in the design by constantly checking the conversion metrics for different types of websites. You can learn valuable things about the type of design that works in specific circumstances. .

Website design is not the sinecure that most people have come to believe. Many website platforms make it easy for anyone with a working brain to put up a website. However, an active website is different from a well-designed website. The key difficulty is in finding the right balance of design and content that will lead to optimal conversion. Website designers face this challenge every day, and those that rise to it by using smart strategies like the ones above succeed in their goals.

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Paige Donahue is a blogger and editor. She hails from Pennsylvania and enjoys traveling and reading a good book while lounging in the beach. She can finish three movies in one sitting. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

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