Why Content must lead UX Design

A new year means a new flood of blog posts about UX and Design trends popping up everywhere. These articles assure us that if we use vivid color gradients, serif types, glitched grids, and material design and we’ll be fine. But this simply isn’t the case.

Content can drive UX and should be part of planning

First, UX obviously is much more than a particular visual approach to an interface. Second, as we at Amazee are working for large corporates, we have to carefully consider the brand itself and its visual appearance and work with complex design systems. There is no one size fits all design solution to ensure success. We have defined goals for the communication that needs to be met with our work. This means everything needs to be done for a very valid reason – not designed to follow a trend.

This brings me to an aspect of UX Design that everyone is aware of, but which is often neglected: The content and its message.

Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.

– JEFFREY ZELDMAN

Content can be text, sound, image or video and it is often left out of the UX process, or not taken into consideration, as long as it is not predefined data, products or services.

‘Lorem ipsum’ and stock imagery take its place in the meanwhile, never being replaced during the project's development. Until the moment of truth comes and someone has to fill something into a CMS so that the website can go live. Because time is short, the text from the old website needs to do the job. As a result, the design does not carry the content, the content does not serve the project's purpose - and this will never provide the best UX because it was never part of the UX process.

Why is this so often the case? In many UX teams, there is still a focus on research, concept and visual design, performed by consultants and designers. There are (content-) strategists, copywriters, and (on the client’s side) experts in their professional fields. Between those two worlds is a gap that needs to be closed. This is similar to the gap between design and development, and just as crucial. This applies not only to content production but to the entire content strategy - from planning processes to internal organization and marketing.

Tips to leverage content to improve the user experience and create meaningful products:

  1. Make sure content fits the user's needs and wishes – Who is our user and what does he/she want?
  2. Define the content (-strategy) before starting to design – What do we want or need to tell our users to achieve our goals as well?
  3. Make sure it adds value to the project’s business purpose – What do we want to tell the user? What do we want him/her to do (next)?
  4. Try to think of content as media neutral information first and define its appearance later. – How do we need to communicate our message? (Video, graphic, download, text?)

With the help of a proper content strategy, you can meet the needs and wishes of your users without losing sight of your own business goals. Thinking about the content and working out a strong content strategy should be one of the first steps of a project. This will then influence the concept, design, and therefore the entire UX.

Talk to us about how we can help drive content and UX to create the perfect experience for your users.

January 16, 2019
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