Design & Content Strategy: Give Them What They Want

By Ryan Davidson | Sep 21, 2016

We recently talked about why a content strategy is essential for higher ed marketing. But how exactly should that play out, visually speaking, on your website?

Although social media is becoming the initial face of your organization, your website ultimately houses all the information and content that prospective students want, so a well-organized, clearly presented website is as important as ever.

There are two big factors at play in a successful website: design and content strategy.

Visually Speaking

Content-driven design is best. It’s really hard to create a great design without context. At the same time, it’s good to have some structure in place when creating the content that’s going to go on your site. Whether you’re writing copy or organizing photo and video shoots, having a structure to refer to gives everything a place and a purpose.

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Sitemaps and low-fidelity wireframes are great for reference when it comes to content strategy, and they provide a good reference point to work from when designing and laying out the rest of the site.

Where’s The Hot Sauce?

It’s taco night. You’re fresh out of hot sauce. Nobody likes tacos without hot sauce, so you stop by the store on the way home to grab a bottle. You go straight to the aisle where you expect to find it, but it’s not there. The grocery powers-that-be moved it. They put it next to the avocados because a few customers bought hot sauce & avocados together. While this definitely could have happened, the produce aisle wasn’t an intuitive place for hot sauce.

You combed the aisles for 15 minutes to find that elusive bottle of Texas Pete. By that point, you were frustrated enough to almost leave without it (but you didn’t because what’s taco night with no hot sauce?)

Don’t confuse the user. Delight them as they explore your site. Don’t make them think. Guide them, unobtrusively.

In the end, it’s simple—you can’t have one without the other. A beautiful design without a good content strategy is like remodeling a house and putting the same old furniture back in it. And a successful content strategy without a good design is like the new iPhone not having a headphone jack—not “courageous,” just nonsensical.

When design and content strategy work together harmoniously, you create a delightful experience that your prospective students will recognize and continuously associate with your brand. Heck, if done right, it could change the landscape of a long-outdated process.

Tell Us What You Think

What content strategy & design trends have you seen in higher ed marketing? How does your content strategy impact your web design?

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