The Battle Between Content and Design


Aug 02, 2012 - by Indra Gardiner Bowers
The Battle Between Content and Design

Back (waay back) in 1996, Bill Gates wrote an article titled "Content is King". The piece was prescient in many ways:

"But the broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate."

I love this line:

"If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video."

How right you were Mr. Gates. We get it all and we never turn those darn computers off now. This was before Google (Google, Inc. launched in 1998), so he couldn't know to what extent content would matter from a data and search perspective. What he did know was that the Internet would be a business game changer that had the potential to level the playing field. So long as we would "put up" with turning on our computers…

Great content keeps us coming back for more. We share it. We comment on it. It gets crawled and ranked. It keeps us company and it makes us smarter.

If you do a search for the term Content is King you will get more than 1 billion results. Guess a lot of people really believe that statement. If you do a search for the term Design is King, you also get more than 1 billion results. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you will see the irony inherent in the number of kings running around here.

If your design sucks, no one is reading or watching your content. No matter how good it is.

Earlier this year Forbes ran a story titled "Welcome to the Era of Design". It is spot on in terms of how consumers have grown in design sophistication over the past couple of decades. Companies like Apple and IKEA have created an understanding and demand for great design that works. When someone encounters bad design, they usually know it. We humans like pictures even more than words. We process imagery fast and make judgements about things based on how they look.

So if your website looks like a dump truck hauled off a truckload full of words onto a page, or your images are low resolution, or the layout is confusing, you have probably lost your potential reader. Good design is what will draw them in. Great content is what we will keep them there.

Should we only have one king? The folks in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros probably don't give a rat's ass how many kings there are, so long as they leave them in peace. I think these two kings are entirely co-dependent and must learn to love each other. What say you?


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