How Content and Design Work Together

By: Craig Minch  | 05/30/2016

Content and design, without the other, can each be bold, solid and effective. But when combined, they can be powerful and revolutionary.

Many products and services that have emerged over the years have found ways to tap into this power. And their success is often attributed to great design or easy-to-use interfaces. And while this is often true, there’s usually another unknown, behind-the-scenes factor at work, getting little of the credit. That factor is content.  Content is more than just words.  Content is words and pictures, working together towards the same goal.  

It's no secret that Apple receives much of its notoriety for its design sensibilities. “It just works” or “It's simple” they often say. But, if you’ve set up a new device recently, you’re not confronted with amazingly designed screens. They’re generally quite stark and boring. What you are confronted with is often the beginning of a conversation or story. It begins simply with a “Hello” and is often followed by carefully crafted, simple questions that guide you on a journey of setting up accounts, preferences and security settings.

Any supporting visuals or imagery are there for a specific purpose, too. They might introduce a new feature or function and provide context for the new icon within the interface. There are pathways forward for advanced users and exits for those that would prefer to fine-tune settings later. Careful attention goes into the manner and tone of every word on each screen at every step of the way. I imagine that its very intentional that one could perceive the new device set-up experience to that of a helpful, friendly assistant, and not a frustrated IT technician.

Within those screens, steps and prompts, there is the right amount of friendliness, detailed information and context for the purpose of each step and why or how it matters to the user in the end. Apple doesn’t set out to simply guide one through a device set-up process. They are engaging you on a journey that can turn your shiny new piece of metal and glass into an everyday, my-whole-life-is-in-there, coveted device.

Yes, it's part design and, yes, it's part experience. But don’t discount the story, the narrative and the carefully crafted words and imagery that work in collaboration to guide you through each step of your journey. That’s the true power of content and design.

Tell us, how does your content and design work together?  Sound off in the comments below!

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