Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi; deep dish vs. thin crust; content vs. design. These topics have sparked numerous debates, but when it comes to the latter, which is the most important - especially when it comes to websites?
Is it better to have a beautifully designed site or one with valuable and engaging copy? Whatever a successful website looks like to you, whether it be gaining social followers, increasing downloads, or boosting sales, content and design play a vital role. For comparison, design involves all visual elements, including graphics, navigation, colors, and fonts; copywriting includes using the written word to sell and influence, all while doing so in an engaging way. Together, they must gain viewers, grab attention, build trust, and convert leads into customers. Below, we look at who "wins" for each of these requirements and who is the overall champion in the great content vs. design debate.
Round One: Grabbing the Reader's Attention
It is reported that websites have less than five seconds to grab a reader's attention. Five seconds. That doesn't offer businesses a lot of time to make a first impression. This is where website design stands out. Consumers don't have time to read a lot of content in less than five seconds. They are going to pay attention to images, colors, and navigation. They may have time to read a headline or two, but website design is paramount when it comes to hooking them in. Winner: Website Design
Round Two: Keeping the Reader's Attention
A website can look fantastic visually, but once someone has committed to spending time on a site, the graphics need to be backed up with some substance. Good design may bring people in, but quality content is what makes them stay. Of course, the design will need to work alongside the copy delivered, but overall, the user is there to be informed and decide if it wants to utilize what the business has to offer. Winner: Content
Round Three: Building Trust
Web copy is an invaluable tool when it comes to building trust. Effective content creates a connection, tells a story, answers questions, and establishes the business as a leader in its industry. However, design plays a role in building trust as well. A poorly developed website may convey that the company is not very professional or doesn't have the revenue to update their site, which doesn't instill confidence. Winner: Content (by a smidge)
Round Four: Organization
There is often a discussion about whether content leads design or if design leads content. Depending on the website, both can be valid. However, in either case, an essential element of a successful website organization is navigation. Site navigation is a roadmap for the visitor. The last thing anyone wants is for someone to leave the website because they can't find what they need. With clean, straightforward, and clear navigation, website designers set the tone of the user experience. Winner: Website Design
Round Five: Readability
When many think of readability, they automatically think of content. Poor writing and constant grammatical errors are distracting and can turn away even the most patient prospects. In addition, content should be easily scannable with appropriate headlines and subheads. However, design has a massive influence on readability as well. Elements like line height, spacing, headers, white space, and text color directly affect readability. Winner: It's a Tie
Round Six: Converting to Sales
Most websites aim to convert prospects to paying customers. To do that, design and content must genuinely work together. You can't sell on images alone, nor can you simply have content. To effectively communicate the value of your services and convince consumers that they want what you're offering, a thoughtfully designed site combined with carefully strategized and engaging copy is the only way to convert leads. Winner: It's a Tie
Round Seven: Brand Identity
When discussing brand identity, what comes to mind is often the logo, colors, and fonts associated with that company. What would Nike be without the swoosh or McDonald's without its red and yellow color scheme? However, a brand is also dictated by copy tone. Light or playful copywriting speaks to a totally different target than weighty or professional content. Winner: Website Design (by a smidge)
Round Eight: SEO Rankings
While graphics are essential to website design, search engines do not always pick them up. Nevertheless, other elements like navigation, link structure, URLs, mobile-friendly design, and layout impact SEO on some level. However, content is what ultimately boosts your SEO results through keywords, originality, readability, and metadata. The copy also tells search engines what the page is about, and the more content on the page, the more keywords are picked up by analytics - ultimately helping your website rank higher. Winner: Content
We Declare a Victor
The verdict is in, and it says that you need BOTH to have a successful and effective website. Web design and content are equally important. Excellent design without compelling copywriting is a waste of everyone's time (and money). At GO, we don't think there is any reason why you can't have it all and, in fact, make it our priority to deliver both to our customers. If you are ready to explore the possibilities of stellar website design and engaging content, contact us today.