Before you even start reading an article, blog post, infographic, or anything else online, you’ve already made a few critical assumptions about it. These assumptions quickly become facts in your mind, and it’s VERY unlikely they’ll ever change.
The reason behind this is the same one that’s responsible for people going to important meetings wearing suits, not t-shirts.
In terms of content, as well as many other things, presentation is vital. Design is what sets your content apart before it’s even read. Because the majority of content producers skim over this, you’ll be at a huge advantage if you make design a priority.
For link building, it’s simple. People won’t link to your content unless:
I know there are other components, but this is just a simplification to make a point.
Content design is responsible for the first and helps immensely with the second.
There are many components of great content design, but one area I won’t be covering is the overall design of your website. My goal is to leave you with a few actionable takeaways that you can apply to your content today, not to yell at you for having web design.
Your body font’s main goal is to make sure your content gets read. If it looks like crap, or if it’s fancy, then people will be less likely to read your content, and as a result, they won’t share or link to it.
But at the same time, you don’t have to go with Georgia, Arial, or whatever else comes up when you Google “most readable font”. Readable is a huge priority, but uniqueness is another important goal.
For example, my blog uses the font Museo. I find it very readable (if you don’t, then I’m going to feel like an idiot…), but I also think that it’s distinctly different than most other body fonts you’ll find on the Web.
Notice that I said body font; you want your main font to be readable, but your headers to ideally be somewhat fancy. They still need to be read, but they should also be (dare I say it) pretty.
The reason for this is because beautiful, fancy header fonts can portray a sense of trust about you, your website, and overall, your brand.
But don’t have more than 3 total fonts on your site. Any more than that can confuse your readers as to what category of words they’re reading.
ACTIONABLE TIP: Sign up for an account on Typekit (a library of fonts), something that I use on all my sites, including this blog. There are 1000s to choose from and it’s super easy to add them to your site. All you have to do is:
OK, there’s no step 4, but I had to add that (even though there’s no ??? for #3)…
I won’t spend too much time on this, just because it’s pretty straightforward, but avoid making your font small. Remember: your goal is to get your content read, not to strain your reader’s eyes.
Ideally, shoot for a body font size of 12-16. Header font sizes can vary, just because I’ve seen some seriously huge headers work as well as smaller ones, but bigger sizes usually look better as long as it doesn’t look weird in your theme (definitely use your own judgement here).
ACTIONABLE TIP: Use the Stylebot chrome extension to live test different font sizes. You can also use this tool to test margin size, font type, font color, and much more.
Images in your content send off good or bad signals whether you like it or not. Here are a few things to consider when adding an image:
A few other bad signals include watermarks, copyrights, and anything that shows that image isn’t actually yours (which is an issue in itself).
A few things I do to make my images more professional is that I always:
ACTIONABLE TIP: Easy things you can do right now are adding borders to your images, making sure they’re high quality (no pixelization), and finding unique ones.
Few realize how important spacing your content out is. Big blocks of text is an immediate turn off for a reader, and can send them elsewhere on the Web before they even read the first sentence.
Utilize the concept of chunking by, you guessed it, chunking your content into readable sizes. Even if you’re talking about the same thing for 6-8 sentences, break it up into 2 paragraphs (or more).
You don’t have to go Derek Halpern style by making almost all paragraphs only a sentence, but overall, strategically splitting up your content into chunks is something you need to implement right now.
ACTIONABLE TIP: Scan your top content for crowded areas and big blocks of text. Try splitting it up a few different ways and deciding which one is best.
You can stop there, but I usually like to go further by implementing a few unique HTML/CSS tricks on important content (it can be time consuming, which is why I said on important content).
For example, you can see here that I made the font different colors for the different variables I was describing above. Simple things like that can send a message to your readers that you take your content seriously.
ACTIONABLE TIP: Take note of simple HTML/CSS tweaks that you like on other sites. You should also try to step back and think about how this affected your view of that article/brand.
Content design is subtle, but it can make a huge difference in terms of links & shares. Don’t be like most and try to ignore it, thinking the actual content by itself is the only thing that matters. Make it your secret weapon.
What other content design topics did I miss? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. I love having discussions with you guys because you’re so intelligent, so please start it and allow me to continue it!
Also – make sure you follow me on Twitter @pointblankseo. I tweet link building & content gems on a daily basis.