By Jeff Kline


Web Design vs. Content: Which is more important?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

red vs blue boxing glovesTo wrap up an informative and extremely important web design series, I thought we’d go out with a bang. This week, while most people are celebrating or lamenting their March Madness brackets, I’m hosting a fight to end the ongoing rivalry between Web Design and Content. 


“What’s more essential to my website’s success – the design or the written content?”

I hear this question often as my team works with clients to develop their websites. But today, we’ll figure out the answer, once and for all. I have selected three design experts to go head-to-head against three content marketing authorities. After three rounds of the match, we’ll have ourselves a winner! 

Web Design and Content, to your corners! Ready… Set… DING! DING! DING!


Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group, starts off the match with a hard hit:

“A well-designed space immediately says that you care about the details and that you want to contribute something fun and meaningful to your customers' lives.”

One point for Design! And now Content is getting double-teamed as Jony Ive, senior vice president of industrial design for Apple, comes in swinging:

“Design is a word that’s come to mean so much that…we don't really talk about design, we talk about developing ideas and making products.”

Ouch! That one was deep.

With that said, Round 1 goes to…Web Design! This is going to be a hard one to come back from, but we’ll see if the content marketing experts have what it takes.


The first round didn’t seem to faze Content, because now John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, comes back immediately with an undeniable hit:

“The use of high quality, education-based content has become an essential ingredient in creating awareness, building trust, converting leads, serving customers and generating referrals.” 

And Brian Solis, media strategist, blogger and best-selling author, backs him up by reminding everyone: 

“Today’s web is an endless 24/7 cycle fed by content and social actions.”

And there you have it. Content comes back and dominates Round 2! Look out Design; Content is in it to win it.


Both Design and Content are blazing, but who will come out on top? 

Chris Brogan, CEO of Human Business Works, fights to seal the deal for Team Content with a short (but not-so-sweet) hit, touting the flexibility of content marketing:

“You can write for your idea-spreaders AND you can write for your buyers.”

But Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, dodges the hit and fights back with:

“Design is the fundamental soul of a man made creation.”

Brogan and Jobs both make unarguable jabs. Looks like it’s time for…a tiebreaker! And as the referee of this match, I’ll take it upon myself to settle this once and for all.


two trophiesI’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again.

“Web design and content are like the yin and the yang, perfectly balancing one another. Or, if you prefer to think of it in terms of form vs. function, great website design is the Form that creates the vital first impression. Content is the Function, the device that attracts search engines, intrigues your audience, and drives measurable results.”

SloDive backs me up, explaining why a healthy balance of content and design is important:

  • Good design attracts people to your website. Good content keeps them there.
  • Your web design and written content work together to develop a cohesive branding message.
  • Both design and content are key factors in obtaining a better position in search engine results.

So before this turns into a knockdown, drag-out struggle to steal the spotlight, be sure you understand that web design and content marketing are equally important to the development of a successful online presence. Instead of competing, your design and content must work together. A great website can’t have one without the other! 

design + content = website

And since we began this Design vs. Content dispute with the attitude of Rocky Balboa, I thought we’d end on a more peaceful note with some simple, yet truthful words from musician Jack Johnson:

“It’s always better when we’re together.”


Next week, I’ll begin to discuss the different types of software that can be used to power your website. This new series, Content Management Systems for Nonprofits, will help you decide which CMS software is best for YOUR organization!


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