Design vs Content: Who is King?
I am a firm advocate of good design but most of the time people tend to interpret design as amazing graphics and astounding visuals they tend to forget that design is the culmination of every aspect of good and effective presentation into one (visit Vincent Flander’s WebPagesThatSuck.com).
We all know that design and content have equal importance in regards to websites but if you must choose which one is immediately important, which will you choose, design or content? If you’re going to prepare an entire web marketing strategy on which of these two shall you focus on more? Why? Please defend your answer?
During my early days (around 1997), when I was still studying/learning to develop webpages, websites with astonishing visuals never fails to impress and I’d always ask myself this, “Man, how did they do that great graphic?” I will spend countless hours surfing the net collecting every graphically and visually orgasmic websites I could fine and I’ll try to imitate and recreate them with photoshop (Photoshop 4) and if I can’t recreate them I’ll scour the web for tutorials on how to make those visuals. Man, if I were paying for my internet connection I would be dead broke by now. It was a good thing that my internet access was free.
Then it hit me, after saving a screenshot of those awesome website, saving all those wonderful wallpapers and all those banners and images, in my mind a very simple question was formed, “When was the last time I visited these websites again?” the answer was simple, once or never. After, analyzing my thoughts I finally noticed that most of these sites offers nothing but visuals. I had spent countless hours browsing these websites and I was only looking at their visuals, why, because that was all they have. That was the only thing they can offer, visuals.
I finally realized that the websites I regularly visit like Yahoo, Web Monkey, Web Developer Virtual Library, and now google doesn’t have all these WOW factor thing, they don’t have the bells and whistles of those extraordinary websites. All they have and all they offer was information, tons and tons of information. They never bothered to develop their look and their feel, what they developed was their content, their information database. Millions of people or millions of potential clients, buyers and opportunities go to these websites not to look at their remarkable visuals or presentations but to acquire what everybody need information and people pay a lot of money for information. A father will pay millions of dollars just to get some information about his long lost child but this same father would not pay anything more than 10,000 or even 50,000 USD just to look at a design, he won’t even pay at all.
Content development is in a much higher level than Design Conceptualization, Creation and Development. Yes, design will capture your visitor’s immediate attention. All the wows, oohhhsss and overwhelming appreciation of the design will follow it but after that what? I for once is very irritated of websites which will make you wait 1 minute for you to download their 3 minute intro just to find out later that the information you are looking for is not there. It does not only irritates me, it also makes me mad as hell because I’ve wasted 5 minutes of my time for nothing and I believe that almost all internet users especially those on dial-up have the same sentiments as mine.
Content makes the big bucks. Here is another analogy. It is like a commercial ad on TV, they’ll hype a product with visuals, graphics, amazing videos, cool sounds and they’ll even get your favorite star to endorse it but in reality it is just as good as the next product. If you ever seen that TV ad for a brand of powdered laundry soap where the speaker just places the cloth stained with grease on a basin of water and just poured some of their product and left it, and after an hour she’ll be back and it is already clean without any effort from you. I tried it, using the same product but it didn’t work. I even left it longer. It didn’t remove the grease from my shirt but it did remove the color and the grease is still there.
I’m not saying that the product doesn’t really work, what I’m saying is, it is all hype just like a website with all the hype. If you have a website that has all these bells and whistles, have you ever wondered how many potential paying clients have pressed the back button or have typed in a different URL just because they can’t wait to load your website, just stop for a while and think of the dollars that you easily could have raked in only if your site loaded just a nanosecond sooner.
Websurfers are an impatient breed. Very few will actually wait until your elaborate design loads. Only those that are interested in your design will wait and look at it and who are they? They are not the paying public, they are not the CEO’s, they are not the business people and they are not the people who have the dough to pay for your services, skills and talents. They are not the people whom you are trying to sell your service to. Then who are they? They are designers, artist and creative people who are just there to steal, copy and plagiarize your hard work.
Content is KING. In fact, it is a GOD. A website with good and well thought out content can and will survive longer than an extravagantly designed one. A lavishly designed website will bring in immediate traffic but they are not quality traffic. They could even be just one time visitors but content, fresh and new (am iterating), will drive not just new visitors but will bring in more visitors which could become potential users of your site and once they become users and get hooked on your site then the big bucks will not be very far behind them (hopefully).
Romelo Jimenez Itong is a Philippine-based web designer/developer with years of experience designing and developing websites for US and other international clients. Visit http://www.romelo.com for more information.