How to use design to maximise your content strategy ROI

8 minutes to read • Published 8 June 2020 • Content strategy, Digital strategy

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    It wasn’t until the 1960s that there was a creative revolution in the world of advertising where it was decided that both copy and art should collaborate to create a more synergistic approach to deliver better results.

    This approach proved effective and has evolved over time to see many successful companies getting their design and content management staff to work on projects together, which has transformed the effectiveness of their work for the better and improved ROI. 

    It used to be that each business had a separate department that focussed on just one aspect, such as an editorial team working to write copy, an art and design team to create visuals, and a sales and marketing team that took what was produced and built a marketing strategy around it. 

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    Communication, collaboration and teamwork

    Cross-team communication and project collaboration were never really understood or appreciated in many organisations for some years so it was vastly under-cultivated. 

    Today we call these ‘soft skills’ and we now realise just how important they are – and how difficult they can be to implement if your different teams are not on the same page about your project.

    Issues can arise when staff act like it is only their part that counts and is of any importance. The skill is knowing how to bring together and synchronise your teams with an understanding of how user experience (UX), design, development and your content strategy must all work together to make your overall project a success, whether that is building a new website, creating new service or developing a new product.

    Each element of your content plan and design system is as important as the other, but each fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to make the whole project complete. But each piece needs to fit with the other perfectly and not have a shape or design that doesn’t fit with or complement its connecting neighbour.

    Bridging the gap between content and design  

    Bringing art and copy, or design and content strategy, together under one roof may seem like a very simple approach, but it was one that worked well back in the 1960s and helped companies produce a more collaborative approach to their work.

    In the 1960s an ad man called Bill Bernbach believed that art and copy should sit in the same room. His design company, DDB, went on to create iconic, stylised ads for Volkswagen in his ‘Think Small‘ campaign that was radically different from what other advertisers were doing, but his strategies proved to be very effective.  

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    His views were quite revolutionary at the time and resulted in great creative changes to how advertisements were made. The effects are still seen today and we can learn a lot from this period of advertising history.

    These days most companies will focus on two main things: designing visually appealing content and creating engaging content. It is easy to see why marrying these two creative processes together can delivery you with effective results.

    Creating a working team 

    It can be tricky to form a working team that incorporates both content and design. After all, both are experts in their own field so will have a very specific, focused view and even a bias towards their own speciality. 

    However, bridging the gap to create more effective design and content can be helped along by each department having a better understanding of the other’s discipline. You can try team-building exercises that can encourage your two different teams to look outside of their box and broaden narrow mindsets.

    You can include opportunities for the teams to discover, understand and appreciate each other’s work and capabilities. This can help dispel incorrect opinions or assumptions about how the other side works. You should encourage everyone to leave their egos at the door and encourage their collaboration to create the very best combined results. 

    Take the time to talk with your team to explain how one complements the other. Yes, both design and content are critically important elements to your business, but they need to understand that they are two sides of the same coin. 

    Without creative, eye-catching design, your content can look a little dry and quite unappealing at first glance. Did you know that 90% of the information processed by the brain is visual? With 55% of people retaining more information from content when it is paired with a relevant image, it makes sense to align your content strategies with creative visual design. 

    The same goes the other way too. Without relevant, information-rich content, your visual designs may not be actionable or achieve their desired results – encouraging users to buy. You need an effective call to action, so by skilfully combining content and design, you can make this happen. 

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    Ideally, you will want to encourage and plan effective collaboration between your designers, content strategists, and marketers so they can share the same goal for their content and the whole project.

    You have to start somewhere, but where?

    To put it frankly, UX design cannot exist without a content strategy. When creating your content strategy you will be laying out the basic structure for the project. Your design team can then have a structure to work from for their stage of the project. This makes sense because without a content structure your design team will have nothing to base their designs on. 

    From a design point of view, you cannot start planning before you know what materials you will have to work with. However, communications must be kept up between your content creation team and your UX design team throughout the whole project to ensure that both departments remain on and work from the same page. 

    This is important because should your content strategy change, your designers will be able to change and adapt instead of carrying on blindly following the original plan. This can be seen when measuring your ROI for your content marketing. Should your content plans change mid-point, yet your design elements failed to follow suit, it can lead to user confusion and hesitation that can be very costly.

    Each project will be different based on whether you are creating a website, app, product or service, but all of these projects will need the basic staples of a sitemap and content model to work from. This can include a set of standards to include colour schemes, icons, writing style, and fonts to maintain brand consistency.

    Remember that your content and design should tell a story, so it is important that they both are telling the same story. By having an agreed-upon and shared content model you can keep a good level of consistency throughout your project.

    Your UX design is important because how your website looks and feels can win or lose users within seconds if you don’t make the right first impression. Your content strategy working in synch with your UX design can help to strengthen your designs to deliver your users with something substantial that is more than just a pretty face. 

    Creating better outcomes and ROI

    By connecting your design and content strategy you will be delivering a better UX for your audience. Ultimately you will want your content to generate leads, hold on to existing customers and increase your bottom line.

    See also →  4 reasons to shift your business culture towards design thinking

    You do this through supplying your audience with valuable content but wrapped up with memorable, eye-catching and engaging design elements that complement your content. 

    An effective amalgamation of both your design and content strategy will help to grab your readers attention, deliver useful information, highlight key points and persuade your audience to take further action. 

    Whether you are a graphic designer, UX designer or content creator – everyone is a designer at heart, so your work should be seamless and show a united front. Continue to work at working together and follow the same strategic goal. 

    Collaboration between your design and content team can also be very rewarding and motivating for them. To use the words of the great Bill Bernbach himself; “When a team is given responsibility for their own work, it becomes their property. They own it. And they walk with their heads up, and they walk with pride.”

    Here at, we would be delighted to have an informal conversation about your project, to discuss how we might be able to help you. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us today to discuss your needs. 

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