On the Importance of Content in Web Design Projects

In the last ten years as a web designer and developer, I’ve learned the hard way that clients who provide content ahead of the project can expect better value for their money.

Published on 26 December 2023

On the Importance of Content in Web Design Projects

The content is at the heart of each website and design decisions are based not only on business requirements and users' needs but also on the type of content provided to the web design team. A high-quality layout is designed to highlight the key information to guide the user in achieving a certain goal, usually, a call to action, such as online purchase, inquiry submission, or social media follow. Additionally, a web designer can create a hierarchy based on the content provided by the client, instead of making assumptions. Such layouts are often designed to pixel-perfect detail, and even a small change to the content, could drastically alter the overall design of the website.

Of course, clients can always ask for advice, and the design team will be happy to give helpful advice on what works best on websites. After all, they’re the experts. It’s worth remembering, though, that big changes to the content can cause unexpected delays in launching the website because design and hierarchy are created around the content. Therefore, agreeing on the content before the project goes into the design and development stage will save designers many screams at their clients and bosses' emails, a thing that, in my opinion, is quite common in the web industry.

Therefore, after many discussions with the team at Edward Robertson, I think that it is more efficient to build a website around the content, which in return will speed up the process of getting your website ready so you can start selling products or services online, and save you money when you decide to make a change once the website is live. Usually, post-launch changes to the website that are outside the scope of the project are charged at a premium, either as a one-off cost or as a part of an agreed maintenance plan.

That being said, in this article, I want to give you some examples of content that you should keep in mind, and give you some pros and cons of each. I hope this will help you evaluate what the design team will expect from you and give you some ideas on creating a stunning website that people can enjoy. Please keep in mind that this is a partial exploration of different types of content. In future articles, I will focus on each separately, where you will be able to learn more about each in more detail. Let’s dive in.

In this article:

The Importance and Annoyance of Text

If a web designer knows ahead that the website will be text-heavy, she can incorporate a design that utilises beautifully designed and easy-to-read typography. For example, Nordstar uses a large, bold typography to deliver information about their business. A well-thought-out typography could have a strong positive visual impact, helping your audience to easily digest information. However, I don’t recommend text-heavy websites, instead, I would recommend combining text with photographs. People are busy, and they don’t have time to read through long paragraphs, especially if they want to quickly learn about what you do. Therefore, aim to use the least amount of text to convey the maximum amount of relevant information, a single paragraph, or sentence will suffice. Try to utilise graphics that convey key information in a simple visual form alongside your text. Unless you’re writing content for a blog article (like this one), case study, or news story, then, longer blocks of text are more acceptable because users visit those pages with more cognitive energy, as they’re prepared to read more about your business. Also, I’ve seen clients posting short paragraphs as blog articles. I don’t recommend doing that, alternatively, consider integrating social media for short-form messages.

The Power and Detrimental Effects of Graphics

When web designers talk about graphics, they usually mean photographs, illustrations, logos, brochures, leaflets, or banners that fall into the group of assets they can use to design a website. Anything that helps them to visualise what you do and who you are falls into this category. Web designers also appreciate good-quality graphics that they can use to create good-quality websites, e.g., low-resolution photographs or blurry logos and disproportionally cropped photographs of people will not do your website any favours. Graphics also help web designers to look for inspiration, and create a website that will reflect your personality, your business, and the people who work for your business. According to Whitenton (2004), humans are visual creatures, thus graphics could be a powerful medium to convey an impactful message that will be memorised by your audience. Try to stay away from stock images. They are great for prototyping, but I would recommend hiring a professional photographer to take some shots of the people who work at your business. Consider action shots that demonstrate how your business operates. Perhaps a chef preparing fresh pasta, or barista brewing that perfect cup of coffee. Authentic photographs will help you build trust with your customers and will help you stand out from the hundreds of one-size-fits-all website templates.

The Engagement and Bandwidth Curse of Videos

One of the trends is to use a full-screen background video on your homepage as a powerful tool to make websites visually and emotionally appealing (UX Planet, 2019). Smeaton’s Gin and Finance 55 are good examples of this approach. In both cases, videos convey an important message; Smeaton wants to show you what their customers can do with their gin, whereas Finance 55 tells a story about growing a property portfolio. However, if your website contains multiple videos, then consider asking your web designer to create a dedicated web page to list all your videos. Videos are great for telling a short story, conveying an important message, increasing engagement with your website, or simply for aesthetics.

However, please keep in mind that videos take a lot of bandwidth. As a guide, I suggest having one video on the homepage that is under 1MB. If you provide a bigger video, your web designer will be able to reduce its size. Still, he will likely cut out certain frames and reduce the video quality to optimise it for your website using specialised tools. It’s normal because loading speed is more important. If you want longer and high-quality videos on your website, upload them to YouTube or Vimeo, and your web developer will be able to embed those videos on one of the inner pages of your website. Remember that embedded videos could potentially lead your users outside, e.g., to YouTube, and consequently decrease the time they spend on your website. Well, there are some trade-offs.

The Sounds of Feedback and Embarrassment

There are some best practices for using sound, for example, to give subtle feedback to user interactions, warnings, or errors. Sounds could be also used in branding and personalisation (Babich, 2017). Take for example the sound played when you turn on your Windows or Apple computer. Likely, most people will instantly recognise and associate the sound with the brand without a single look at the device. However, incorporating sounds on your website is a different story. It’s a bad practice to play sounds automatically when the page loads. How do you feel when the sound plays unexpectedly? Personally? Embarrassed. However, if you want to integrate sounds with your website, for example, to let people listen to your podcast, listen to the page instead of reading, or download sound effects that you created, I would recommend mp3 files. These files are compatible with all web browsers and can be converted to other formats using specialised tools.

The Upsides and Downsides of Animations

Animations are a great way to indicate that something is happening. For example, subtle movements like the one on the Aurora-ecs or Hamilton Shanghai websites can capture user attention, whereas progress bar animations like on Kirami can give users helpful feedback about the state of the process, e.g., form submission. Animations can help users achieve their goals and create a perceived sense of a website that is fast (Porozhnii, 2020). Furthermore, animations can be used to add visual clues to page elements that can be interacted with. Simple interactions like hover or click of the button can be animated to indicate that the user interacted with the page element. I wrote an article about Middlesbrough FE conference, where Jake Archibald explored applications of page transitions and how they can improve engagement with your website, or make it a nightmare if used inappropriately. I recommend you talk to your web designer about web animations, and whether they’re necessary on your website.

The Benefits and Nightmares of Downloads

There are use cases when users may want to download something directly from your website. Take for example a restaurant like Zucchini Pasta Bar. Food and drink menus are usually designed for a specific dimension. Therefore, converting the drinks menu into a web page like I did on Nicky Noo’s would increase the time needed to complete your project.

The World of Friendly and Unfriendly Ads

This one is a strange hybrid that could be one or a mixture of everything discussed so far. If you want to feature ads on your website to generate additional revenue, it is important to let your web designer know beforehand. Website ads come in different shapes, sizes and types (image, animation, video), therefore not knowing what they look like beforehand, could destroy a beautifully designed website if the ads look ‘out-of-place’. If you decide to create your ads, then your designer will be able to create ad designs that match the look and feel of your website. However, if you use external adverts, you’ll have to make some trade-offs. If your ads don’t fit well with the design of your website, and distract from the main content, or worse, obscure the content, users will either leave your website or turn on the ad blocker. However, if you choose advertisers that provide subtle, non-intrusive ads that are simple, such as Carbon Ads.

I hope that this rather long article helped you to develop a better idea of what to prepare for your website for it to shine. Having content ready beforehand could greatly improve the chances that your web designer creates something that you can be proud of and that your users can enjoy. And remember, content is not limited only to text and images. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Whitenton, K. (2004). Available at https://www.nngroup.com/articles/image-focused-design/ (Accessed: 8th May 2020).

UX Planet (2019). Available at: https://uxplanet.org/review-of-ui-design-trends-we-start-2019-with-68f128151215 (Accessed: 8th May 2020).

Babich, N. (2017). Available at: https://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2017/12/the-ux-of-sound-designing-audio-experiences/ (Accessed: 8th May 2020).

Porozhnii, K. (2020). Available at: https://yalantis.com/blog/web-animation-technologies-and-tools/ (Accessed: 8th May 2020).

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