You could have the most profound, compelling, through-provoking piece of content in the world, but if it looks awful on your website, people won’t consume it.
That’s how website design impacts content marketing in a nutshell.
But hold your horses because that’s not all you need to know.
What you really need to know is how you can design your website to make your content irresistible to your web visitor.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to show you how to do.
Because there’s no use in creating content if something about your website turns people away, right!?
Just a head’s up! When I say content, I mean things like your blog articles, podcasts (with transcripts and notes) or video pages on your website.
There’s a problem with how content is presented on websites
Through our membership, we’ve reviewed over 500 pieces of content on websites, usually in the form of blog posts and podcasts. And one of the most significant pieces of feedback we give is not about the content itself but about the way it is presented.
If you think that the way you design your content is not a big deal, it really is.
According to Nielson Norman Group, website users read on average 20% of the text on the page.
Users don’t have the time to read everything word-by-word. You’ve probably even skipped some parts of this article already!
*I’m waving if you’re still here.*
How does web design impact content marketing?
You can’t expect your user to read every single word you write.
But when your website and content are visually appealing, you’ll start to see significant engagement with your content, i.e. people consuming it, sharing it and buying from you.
So how do you make the content on your website more visually appealing and engaging? And what aspects of website design impact your content negatively?
Let’s find out how website design impacts your content marketing!
1. User experience impacts how people find your content
User experience means your web visitor can easily navigate your website and find what they need. Everything works seamlessly as your visitor makes their way through your various website pages.
But your visitors may find it difficult to find your content if your website has bad user experience. And if no one is finding your content, you won’t see any results!
Ways to improve your website’s user experience and increase traffic to your content
At the very least, you should feature your blog, podcast or video page:
- In the main menu on your website
- On your homepage (often people use their last three or four articles or podcast episodes)
- In your footer
- On your about page (people always forget that an about page must lead to further pages on your website)
An example of good user experience and easily found content!
Nicole Osborne, a marketing coach for agencies based in the UK, features her content prominently on her website’s homepage. It’s super easy to access and grabs your attention right away. Well done, Nicole!
2. Searchability impacts how people search your content
Your website must make it easy for your visitor to search and find the content they are looking for.
If you publish a regular blog or podcast episode, you will end up with pages and pages of content. If you don’t make this content easily searchable, users have to trawl through all those pages to find something they like.
This gets even more difficult when you also have content like free guides, checklists and other downloads.
So how do people find all of this fantastic stuff? And how can you encourage more engagement and email sign-ups?
Ways to improve your content’s searchability
Categorise and tag each piece of content
Your content management system (i.e. the backend of your website) should allow you to categorise and tag each piece of content.
Pick one category and four or five tags for each piece of content. For example, this article is categorised under ‘content marketing’ and tagged under ‘content design’, ‘user-experience’, ‘accessibility’ and ‘website tips.’
You can then feature things like a search bar at the top of your blog or podcast pages. When your website visitor types something like ‘content marketing,’ only those articles categorised and tagged as ‘content marketing’ would appear.
Add a learning centre
A learning centre is a page on your website where ALL of your content is easily accessible to your website users in just a few seconds.
It can allow people to search through your content, access any free guides or giveaways, and access content on different platforms (such as videos, podcasts or articles). You can look at our learning centre to show you one in action!
This works if you have a lot of content and want to give your users an easy way of searching for it.
Example of good ‘searchability’ of content on your website
Okay, so I’m pretty proud of our learning centre, alright? So I’m showing it off to you. There are different elements of the learning centre that allow people to find what they’re looking for easily. Theres’ the:
- Search bar – for people who know exactly what they want
- The categories of content (such as content marketing or SEO) for people that want to search by topic
- Our quizzes and extra freebies to encourage sign-ups to our emails
- Most popular questions, with direct links to articles
We wanted a page that helped people find all of our content, and it’s one of our most popular website pages!
3. Readability impacts how people consume your content
It isn’t 1882. A giant wall of text ain’t going to cut it, my friend. This is the internet, and people want scannable content that’s easy to read.
The way you design your website will impact the readability of your content. Everything from fonts, text size, headings and subheadings and colours will affect how your user reads your content.
If it looks difficult to read, people won’t read it. It’s that simple.
Ways to improve the readability of your content
Add headings and subheadings
It would help if you used headings and subheadings throughout your content (otherwise known as H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6 tags).
Your main heading and subheadings should differ in how they look to reflect each section and where everything sits within each section. I.e. don’t just use all your headings randomly.
A H1 tag should be used once for the main title of your piece of content.
You should use H2 tags as your main subheadings. You should use H3 tags for the subheadings in H2 sections and so on.
I get that this is not easy to visualise, so here’s an image to help! (From an old design of our website, ahhh how times have changed!)
Make sure the hierarchy of your headings is correct
Think about the hierarchy of your headings and subheadings. Your main title should be the largest and most prominent. H2 should be bigger than H3, H3 should be bigger than H4, etc.
Finally, use subheadings often in your content to break up the text and make it easy to read.
In fact, people should get the general gist of your blog post just from the subheadings. Try it with this one. Just read the subheadings and see if you can gather a lot of information from just those!
Increase the white space…then increase it some more!
White space is the space in between all the elements on the page and the elements themselves. Even the space in-between each word and each line of the text is ‘white-space’. It also doesn’t have to be white (just to add to the confusion).
My husband is a graphic designer, and whenever I have tried to design anything, his mantra has always been, ‘more white space’. (I still can’t design, but I got that bit).
White space makes your content easier to read. It’s not all mushed up and close together. People need regular breaks (e.g. space between the paragraphs).
Make sure your font is large enough
Again, this is all about making your content easy to read, so it’s not rocket science. But we give ‘increase the size of your font’ feedback on people’s content ALL. THE. TIME.
We use 16px (12pts) for the size of the text you’re reading right now. This is the minimum you should use.
Anything below size 16px (12pts) is too small (as you can see. Or not see, as is probably the case).
An example of good ‘readability’ on a website’s blog
I picked Orbit Media’s website here (below) as an example because even though it’s a simple web page and could be described as basic–it’s easy to see why less is more.
You want your website visitors focused only on your content. That’s why on this website, there is plenty of white space at the sides of the content.
The text is also quite large, and regular subheadings break up the text.
Finally, notice how each line is short, so your eye doesn’t have to go from left to right so much. The text sits centrally on the page, and there are approximately 7-9 words on each line. This makes it incredibly easy to read.
If you want to learn more about this, check out our blog post on how to make your blog posts look good.
4. Accessibility impacts how much everyone can access your content
The way you design your website has a huge impact on how accessible your content is.
Website accessibility means everyone can use, navigate and understand your content–including people with disabilities.
If our business were a shop or building, we’d want to make sure that everyone could come in and find what they are looking for. We’d like everyone to feel welcome. And we wouldn’t want the layout of the shop or building to prevent anyone with a disability from accessing it.
It’s the same with websites. But unfortunately, in a study from 2021, 96.8% of home pages had accessibility issues.
However, things are changing. As website designers originally, we’ve noticed that the website design/development industry has started to take accessibility more seriously.
But what are some basic things you can do within your website design to make the content on your site more accessible?
All the things we’ve talked about above (searchability, readability and user experience) help make your content more accessible to everyone.
But here is what else you can do.
Ways to improve your content’s accessibility
Make your links clear
Throughout your content, you’ll link out to other internal pages on your website and external websites. Therefore, you need to make sure your links are clearly links.
You can do this by changing the colour of the links, and you could also add an underline.
Use clear wording that says what the user is going to click on. Don’t just put ‘read more’, ‘click here’, or ‘learn more’. You need to explain what you’re linking to.
Contrast the text with the background colour
We prefer a lighter background and dark text. But whatever way round you do it, make sure there is a sharp contrast between the text and background colour.
Contrasting background and text colours make it much easier to read. Unfortunately, many websites–particularly those in the fashion industry–use a light grey text against a white background. This makes it so difficult to read. My dyslexic brain really struggles with this!
Make sure to add ALT text to all your images
ALT text is like a label for your image–it explains exactly what it is. Many people can’t ‘see’ images, so they rely on ALT text to understand what the image is.
Make sure you give each image ALT text when you upload it to your website. It’s super easy to do and makes a massive difference for those who can’t see images. Plus, it has added SEO benefits too.
Use sentence form in your ALT text too. Imagine someone points to your image and says, ‘what’s that?’ That’s how you should describe your image. For example, the ALT text for the image below is, ‘Black cat climbing white shelf’. Simple.
Example of website content with good accessibility
It’s safe to say we have a lot of work to do to improve the accessibility of our websites (us included). But as I said, the website design/development industry is changing in this area. There is definitely a thirst for more education and training around accessibility issues.
In terms of websites that do this well, HubSpot is a great example (below).
The text is clear and in contrast to the background. The links are clear, and all the images have ALT text (on the blog post I checked at least!)
But also, it’s incredibly simple. There’s no flashy stuff, no automatic videos playing, no stuff cluttering the page. Simple is a word you’ll notice a lot when it comes to the design of your website and content. Often the simpler, the better!
5. Conversions impact how you well your content delivers leads or sales
The way you design your website can have a huge impact (both good and bad) on conversions, i.e. the number of leads and sales you get through your website.
Ultimately, that’s what your content is all about, right? Increasing conversions! There’s no point continuously creating content and getting nothing back from it.
Our content brings us a steady flow of leads because we’ve designed our website to encourage email sign-ups. So how can you do the same?
Ways to improve your content’s conversions
Add a sidebar to your blog or podcast
We’ve added a sidebar to the right that follows you as you scroll on our blog.
Adding a sidebar is controversial, as some people prefer a clean page with nothing around the text. However, we’ve found this works incredibly well for getting email sign-ups, and it’s not too cluttered or distracting.
Try not to feature too much here; include things like one call to action and some links to your other content.
Add a call to action in the footer
You can also add a footer to each blog or podcast page, which encourages your user to take action.
This could be encouraging someone to sign-up to your newsletter or download a freebie.
Encourage people to consume more content
When you categorise your content correctly, you can showcase similar content that might be of interest to your reader at the bottom of the post or page.
This is pulled through automatically to every single page. So at the bottom of this one, I’m hoping you can see other articles related to content marketing!
This works because it hooks your website visitor into more content from you, building trust and credibility in the meantime.
Example of website content that encourages leads
Mike and Callie, AKA, The Membership Geeks have a fantastic blog that not only is an amazing resource for those who run membership sites, it’s well designed too!
In the sidebar of their blog, they have a few call-to-actions such as buttons to their free Facebook group or downloading their blueprint. They also include a box that encourages you to join their academy, which follows you as you read their blog.
These elements aren’t intrusive and don’t steal the attention from the fantastic content. But I imagine they work well for encouraging email sign-ups and sales.
6. Technical issues impact how long people stay on your content
This last one is a biggie! If your website experiences technical issues then this will impact the success of your content. Your website visitors may leave if there are issues, and Google may limit your appearance in their search results. After all, Google doesn’t want to show their users websites that don’t work, right?
You may need a website developer to fix any specific issues, but here are a few things to watch out for.
Ways to solve any technical issues that impact the success of your content marketing
Check it works on mobile
First thing’s first, check your website works on mobile. And not just works but looks and works just as good as it does on a desktop computer.
We tend to view our own business websites from a laptop or desktop, but don’t forget about mobile! In the last quarter of 2021, mobile devices accounted for over 54% of all internet traffic.
The simplest ways to check your website works on mobile is:
- Get your friends to check on their various phones!
- Use Google’s mobile-friendly checking tool
Keep checking it regularly too, you never know what will crop up.
Make sure your site loads quickly
We’re an impatient bunch, aren’t we! Unfortunately, people will not wait while your content loads on their screen. If it takes too long then they’ll hit the backspace button and go to another website that answers their question.
Ideally, your page should load in less than two seconds. Any more than that, and your website visitor will start to get antsy.
To check your page load time, you can use a tool like GT Metrix to help. Just pop in your URL and it’ll give you all the info you need.
Make sure your website is secure
Finally, make sure your website is secure by installing an SSL certificate. This isn’t the only thing you should do to secure your website, but it is something your users (and Google!) will notice.
If you don’t install an SSL certificate this could impact your search engine rankings AND users may notice that it’s not there. An SSL certificate makes sure there’s a secure connection from your webserver to your browser.
The best way to check is to look at your URL, if there’s a little lock symbol then your website has an SSL certificate.
If you don’t have one, speak to your web developer or host about getting one installed on your website.
What’s next for you?
That’s pretty much all the ways that website design impacts content marketing.
If you’re creating website content yourself and want to know how to improve the look and feel of the content, then check out our blog post on how to make blog posts look good!
Alternatively, if you’re looking to hire an SEO content writer, you might want to check out our blog management service. As well as writing content we also optimise it for search engines, do all the keyword research and strategy and format it and make it look good.
Owner at Jammy Digital, Digital Marketing Specialist and Writer of Young-Adult Fiction.