I used to call this section “Site Design”, but I realized that this implied the concept that the site was designed once and then finished. In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth. Your actual “site design” is probably the quickest and easiest part of creating a website. You pick a look, a color scheme, add your logo, and you’re done. That’s site design. It’s the quickest, easiest, and cheapest part of building websites.
Content design, on the other hand, is the real work of creating your online marketing platform. This is where you engage the search engines, engage your audience, and generally present the ongoing story of your business.
IMPORTANT: I am going to make a point right now of saying that because technology changes so rapidly, there’s almost no reason whatsoever to write out extensive details on which templates, themes or plugins to use with your Online Marketing Platform. We spend dozens of hours a week just staying up to date on the plugins and themes we use for our clients, and many more hours staying abreast of the latest changes in other marketing platforms. So, which is better? Infusionsoft? HubSpot? Marketo? The answer is far more dependent on who is asking and when you ask than you can really imagine. We put together a regular newsletter for our clients so they can just get the quick updates they need.
Having said that, there are some trends and underlying themes that remain the same, regardless of the technology or web based platform. If you choose a platform other than WordPress (and unless you have a couple metric tons of money to develop your own platform that is just LIKE WordPress, I have no idea why you’d make that choice), you’ll have to translate the basic concepts into the plugins or extensions available to your software.
Many people think a website is designed first, but that really is putting the cart before the horse. You need to know how your content will interact with search engines way before you start to imagine what you site will look like. A pretty site may appeal to your friends and family, but it won’t do anything to help you be found by new customers. In fact, many of the slickest, prettiest sites on the internet are nearly impossible to find, because the fancy images, slideshows and embedded flash video mean absolutely nothing to the Google algorithm.
The most important things on your website are the words and how they are written. Notice there are two parts to this sentence. Like the images, if you don’t present the words properly, you will not only give up any SEO advantage you might get from your content, but if you do it incorrectly, you can actually harm your site’s SERP rankings. It’s an important distinction to understand, but fortunately the line between “does nothing” and “hurts my site” is pretty broad, and as you’ll understand soon, pretty easy to avoid.
And the really good news is that there’s one way to do all of this, do it well, and do it fast.