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A Guide to Content Strategy for Design

By March 15, 2022

High-quality, engaging content is the key to a successful project.

 

Design is the visually appealing package wrapped around your message—helping you deliver it more effectively across many platforms, and increasing the chances it will be seen and understood. But it’s what’s on the inside—the content—that’s most important.

Whether you’re working with us or other partners or creating the content yourself, it’s important that it is complete, accurate, and produced in a timely way to avoid missing deadlines, or necessitating costly redesigns.

We can help you develop a content strategy including determining what content is needed, which vendors and partners to work with, and help identify resources within your team to fill in the content framework.

 

What is content anyway?

 

In a book or publication, content is the written words and images. On a website, content might be words and images, plus audio and video. In a presentation, content may include key messages and data. Although it often looks different depending on the project, it’s always the primary substance being communicated or shown to your audience.

Typically, when we talk about content, we mean:

  • Writing
  • Data
  • Photography
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Illustrations

Tips for Creating Meaningful Content

 

Plan ahead—way ahead

Truly great content that’s valuable to your audience takes time and effort to create. And in our experience, it takes even more time and more effort than we think it will!

Even if you are working with us or another partner outside your organization to create your content, there will likely be significant time and focus required from your team.

We will work with you to start planning the content right at the beginning of a project. We’ll provide a schedule with milestones, and encourage you to review it carefully to ensure it’s realistic given you and your team’s capacity.

It’s much better for the momentum of a project to have a reasonable plan from the beginning, than it failing to meet goals and continually pushing back deadlines.

 

Be strategic and wireframe

Just like your brand, content should help support the vision and goals of your organization. Keeping the bigger picture and audience in mind can be invaluable for deciding which content to include and which to emphasize.

A wireframe is often the bridge between content and design. This works as a visual aid to give everyone a better idea of how long a content piece will be, and how it needs to be organized. In those cases in which a wireframe is needed, we will create one without design in order to present a recommended layout, flow, and hierarchy of elements.

Wireframes are most commonly associated with websites and digital projects, but we also find them extremely useful for print, presentations, and infographics. A wireframe can show the basic layout and story taking shape, while still being easy to adjust and change.

Wireframe for an infographic
Wireframe for a print publication
Wireframe for a website

We may use some placeholder text and images in the wireframe to help determine what certain elements should be but, by the end of the wireframe process, and before we start design, all content should be final.

Corrections Cost Money

Making sure that text is complete, correct, and well-organized from the beginning will save on costly additional rounds of design revisions later on.

We usually include 2 rounds of design revisions and 3–4 rounds of editorial revisions in each project scope. Each round of revisions should include a smaller and smaller number of corrections as we progress toward the final product.

One of the most common reasons for a project creeping beyond scope is when there are major changes or additions late in the process. A way to avoid this is to be sure that decision makers on your team review the content and design at key stages along the way.

From the beginning of a project, we can help you strategize who should be included in the review process and when to keep everything moving as efficiently as possible.