I always aim to encourage a conversation about web design within the digital teams I work with, providing helpful suggestions for improvements to your existing content publishing process.
This article is based on…
- A survey I conducted among digital teams in the charity sector
- Research and analysis of day-to-day management of website content
- Experience of working as a developer over many years.
Audience Focused Design
1. Fixed Styles and Templates Consistent With Brand
A developer’s role is to ensure a solid, unbreakable, design framework that allows you to focus on creating compelling content. A developer also considers different screen sizes and future proofs as much as possible to account for every type of page. As an editor you need full confidence in how your content will render so you can feel happy working on the site.
2. Flexibility for Editors to Create Specific Campaigns
It’s impossible to provide templates for every eventuality, though when developers are prudent they can re-use and re-purpose elements for different layouts – for example a landing page. It’s amazing how different choices of images or headlines can totally change the dynamic of a page, without actually needing a new template.
3. Choosing Appropriate Designs Over Trends
It’s human nature to look to competitors to see what they are doing with their website. You will unconsciously follow particular design trends, which means you may lose sight of the particular needs of your organisation’s audience. For example accessibility might an important factor to consider, which takes priority over cutting edge design.
4. Audience Needs Versus Internal Processes
Be flexible and user-focused because design will naturally become political amongst colleagues. We all experience this but rarely admit it, especially when working within a workplace bubble. Your users do not have any understanding of the technical processes that went into your website. Managing your websites production and day-to-day upkeep should be as intuitive as the audience experience.
Essential Skills of Content Creators
1. Writing For Computer Screens
Writing and structuring web pages is a great opportunity to engage the reader, whilst also bearing in mind the busy context in which they have landed on the page. The priorities with any page design is correct spelling and grammar, accessible links or calls to action, avoiding repetition and keeping paragraphs short. Copy should always be interspersed with images relevant to the subject matter and to give the eyes a break.
2. You Shouldn’t Have To Code Anything
I don’t feel it is the job of a website editor to write any code. In the early days of websites, before content managements systems, writers often needed to know basic HTML mark-up. Today, I work with a variety of clients, some of whom might be comfortable with coding or actually like the flexibility. But you should be more focused on creating great content. It’s the job of your developer to make pages easy to edit and publish without having to code.
3. Knowing Basic SEO For Web Writing
It’s much more important for website editors to be aware of basic search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques to give an article or page the best chance of being found by the right people. The deeper concepts of analytics and goal tracking can be handled by data experts. However, a basic knowledge of good linking, search engine friendly headlines, keywords and meta data is essential.
4. Readable Content, Tone of Voice
What makes great website copy is the appropriate tone of voice, which of course will align with your organisation’s core values and go a long way to helping search visibility too. Writing in a natural, focused and concise way, enhances the overall design experience and leaves a lasting impression on your website visitors. Be memorable, get to the point and trust users to make their own judgements.
The wonderful workplace illustrations are provided by Storyset