It’s the age old question to which everybody believes they have the answer: What is more important, how it looks or what it says? There are advocates for both extremes. Some say that ultimately it’s only what it says that matters. That, after all, is what Google cares about and that is what people come to consume. But if that were true, you’d see successful blogs today which still look like those blogs did back when the word ‘blog’ was first conceived.
On the other side, there are plenty of people who maintain that if it looks good then it can be great. But that too is hard to believe – particularly as you can’t be found if the search engines can’t figure out what your blog is about.
In reality, the argument between whether content or design is more important is a misnomer. That’s because we somehow seem to consider their relationships linear. But things like that rarely are. It’s down to bad being stronger than good.
The Power Of Negative:
Consider this thought experiment: I will give you lots of money – say a million dollars. But I’ll also inject you with a solution that will give you with serious and chronic pain for the rest of your life and there is nothing you can do about it. Would you take the deal? Probably not. After all, chronic pain has been shown to make people incredibly unhappy. More importantly for this article, it’s also because the negative outweighs the positive. When you have a friend who is really popular and generous, but who constantly tells you mean lies, you’ll probably not stay friends for long.
It’s the same with content and design. It’s not so much that you need to make sure they are both perfect, but you do need to make absolutely certain that the one you care less about does not detract from the other one. Because however good your text is, if people don’t like your font they won’t read it. They’ve got better things to do.
Things To Watch Out For In Terms Of Content:
Here’s a big problem about writing: People inevitably think their text is more understandable than it is. Mainly, this is down to something called the curse of knowledge. This is where once you know something you can’t unknown and imagine how somebody who doesn’t know it would feel or what they would think. That’s why parents get frustrated while helping their children with their homework and why companies so often use jargon in their communications. They forget other people don’t understand these things.
It’s also why it’s so hard to know if your content is actually understandable. After all, you know what you’re trying to say. The best thing to do is to assume that it isn’t. And though of course you shouldn’t speak down to people, you should still make sure that everything is clear. A good test is ‘would my grandmother understand this?’
Another big thing to watch out for is readability. It’s not quite the same as engagement, but if your audience can’t understand what you’re saying, then it doesn’t really matter what you’re saying, does it? For that reason, first and foremost good texts are accessible texts. Only when you’ve got that down should you start worrying about other things.
Things To Watch Out For In Terms Of Design:
The great thing about design is that you don’t actually have to add that many features nowadays to have a relatively good looking website. That’s down to our current fascination with minimalism and the power of white space to emphasize what actually matters. In fact, a mistake many people who create their first blog make is putting way too much stuff on there, under the guise of ‘more is better’.
The thing is, that’s not true if the more seriously distracts people from what you actually tried to attract them with, namely the content of your blog. So, whenever you’re considering adding any element to your page you shouldn’t ask yourself ‘does this look nice?’ but ‘does this add anything?’
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can do away with images entirely. For one thing, we expect them. For another, when we share content of our blog on most social media, they’ll use the images you’ve supplied. No image on your site, no image on the social media – and as links without images receive far less clicks, that’s a no-no.
No, you will not be able to become famous by eliminating all of your negatives. Obviously, you’ll need to do a lot more than that to get your blog noticed. Nonetheless, if you do all that and don’t eliminate the negatives, then chances are you still won’t be able to get anywhere, as people will simply be too annoyed with what they see as downsides for them to give the rest of your site a chance.
What’s more, because different people have different expectations of what they feel is a basic requirement, it’s important that you maintain your content and your design up to high standards. Even then, you won’t be able to please everybody all the time. Still, as long as they can satisfy most people you’ve actually got a shot at making it out there. And that’s all we need.