Content is king.
You've probably heard this statement before. If not, Wikipedia (yes, Wikipedia) illustrates the idea of “Content is King” as:
“…without original and desirable content…any media venture is likely to fail through lack of appealing content, regardless of other design factors.”
You can have the best-designed, coolest, most functional website around, but without good content, your website (or ebook, course, podcast, video production, etc.) is pretty much useless.
However, please don't misunderstand the idea here. Design, or presentation is still absolutely necessary.
Design without content is useless, but content without design is dumb.
In other words: design matters.
Perry Belcher is an internet marketing guru. He even has an online button named after himself—The Belcher Button, which I've talked about before here on the blog. I've watched him, listened to his courses and have implemented a lot of his novel ideas into my own businesses.
There is one thing, however, that he always says in the beginning of many of his audio courses that I always disagree with. He always apologizes for the low quality recordings, and that it really doesn't matter because it's the content that counts.
Maybe the poor sound quality doesn't matter to the people who have already paid for his courses to listen to his content, but in our world (you and me), the quality of our presentation is HUGE. The quality and design of how we present our content can mean the difference between:
- A new visitor staying or bouncing.
- A regular visitor reader getting excited or bored.
- A potential customer buying from you, or instead buying from your competitor.
- An existing customer being satisfied, or asking for their money back.
You can have the best content in the world, but without good design or an interesting presentation, your content will generally make little to no impact.
Design and presentation is vital for first impressions. Online, first impressions mean a lot more than you think.
The average person spends about 7 seconds on a single website, which means you have about 7 seconds to make a good first impression on your new visitors, or else they're going to leave. If you're got loads of great content, people won't find it unless you give them a reason to stay.
For Your Website…
This means having a strong visual impact right from the pageload, especially when it comes to what your website is about and exactly what it can do for your visitors. Can you tell exactly what your site is about just from looking at the home page?
This means including something that makes you stand out from the other 200+ websites they visited that day. Why do things the same, when there are an unlimited number of things you can do to be different?
This means not including anything that would turn your new visitors off. What turns you off from websites? Do you do that on your own site?
This means an awesome, non-generic looking cover.
This means a layout that's inviting and unlike something like an essay or a report which would turn people off.
For Audio and Visual Media…
This means a strong intro (song or spoken introduction).
This means getting people excited about the show or broadcast by giving them ideas on what to look forward to.
This means high-quality audio recordings or video presentations.
The Higher the Quality, The Better
Any chance you have to make things look or sound better, you should.
A couple of months ago, I was speaking to Cliff from Podcast Answer Man, about some new podcasting equipment that I will be getting very very soon (for the SPI podcast, yay!). Anyways, he was telling me about just how important sound quality is in the podcasting arena. He even told me that The Grammar Girl, who hosts a very successful podcast on iTunes, won't even give an audio file a 10 second listen if the sound quality is bad, no matter what it is.
I like to think of it like this: you put in the hard work to create the content that you're about to present, so you'll want to give it the best chance to succeed, right?
Learning Good Design
Design is a TOUGH thing to learn, and even presentation too. Luckily, I went to school for architecture, which is all about both design and presentation.
That being said, as tough as architecture may sound, it's really all about common sense, and putting yourself in the shoes of those who you want to read, subscribe, or buy from you. And when common sense isn't so clear, then it becomes all about trial and error—testing, and honing down on exactly what does work for you.
That's why since the beginning of this blog, I've had 5 redesigns, although I've only publicly announced the last two. That's why I'm still constantly learning, testing and tweaking to make sure that I give my content the best chance of getting noticed. So far, it seems to be working.
If Content is King, then Design is his beautiful Queen that's there to make him look better.