Why Content Matters in UX Design Why Content Matters in UX Design

Why Content Matters in UX Design

  • date-ic 16 Mar 2020
  • time-ic 3 minutes read

UX design teams have plenty of experience with testing their visual design components and UI, but an area that is often neglected is content. Too often designers build out entire wireframes before copywriters have written any copy. This can lead to tricky page layouts where content and page design don’t fit together. Compelling copy and easy-to-use UI are both essential pieces of the user experience. Just like how poorly designed navigation and non-intuitive interactions can frustrate users, confusing or overly complicated language can impact their experience. Here’s why content matters in UX design and how you can implement testing techniques to optimize your content. 

Content and Design should work in tandem

When conducting website redesigns with existing content, a content-first strategy is natural. However, when designing pages where content hasn’t been written yet or in larger team settings where designers and writers work independent of each other, designers often have to resort to a container-first approach. Designing without content can lead to awkward page layouts and avoidable problems:

  • Empty placeholders can lead to unneeded spaces later. While using lorem ipsum is an easy way to visualize what a page may look like, it can also create unnecessary extra spacing.
  • Rigid templates can create unintended constraints. By not using responsive design, baked-in layout limitations can limit the number of words you can use or even cut off important text on smaller screens. 

To avoid these problems it is best to design page layout and write content alongside each other. Utilising flexible grids and layouts that work for all screen sizes gives copywriters the freedom to write without worrying about constraints. It is important to test both UI and copy to gather insights on the complete user experience.

Understanding Content Personas

Now that you understand why content and design need to work together to build quality user experiences, it is important to understand where content begins. What are content personas and why do you need them? Content personas are composite sketches of a target market based on validated data, not assumptions. Start off with a demographic in mind, and gather inputs from customer support representatives, sales reps, product managers, and most importantly – customers. Once you have a picture of your target persona’s goals and pain points you can create value propositions specific to their needs and compile keywords that are relevant to them. These personas shouldn’t just be made and forgotten, they should inform how you test and measure the quality of your content. Test your content with real users to see if your messaging aligns with your target audience.

Creating an intuitive information hierarchy

Testing for effective messaging and word use is one way that UX teams can improve their content. Another aspect that UX teams focus on is how users react to the flow of information. This is especially important for government agencies, insurance companies, or banking institutions that have to provide lots of important information while still being easy for users to find what they are looking for. 

To get there, here are some methods to optimize how you present information to users:

  • Card sorting – Start off with a set of topics that represent the main content of your site and write each on a separate note card. Ask your testers to organize each card into groups that make the most sense to them. Debrief afterwards to get a better understanding of their rationale when grouping. Figure out what cards were harder than others to group and why.
  • Surveys – Utilise surveys to ask users what terminologies they would use to describe your products and services and what language on the site confused them. Ask them how comfortable they felt using your navigation to find the information they were looking for and whether or not they were successful.
  • A/B testing – Present testers with two versions of text and compare engagement results between them. This is an effective tool when trying to pinpoint the perfect phrasing for call-to-actions and increase conversions. But it is important to take into consideration that A/B tests do not tell you why users prefer one version or another. To get a more complete picture, ask testers to explain their rationale afterwards.
  • Usability testing – Usability testing doesn’t have to just be about UI. Gear your tasks towards measuring your word choice and content organisation. Ask testers to find specific information on your self-service platform and watch their user flow through remote user testing. Or ask testers to read about a product and then have them describe what they read in their own words to gauge comprehension. Pay attention to the language and keywords they use, and the ones they don’t.

Get the most out of your content

Content testing is an underappreciated art-form that can help you nail your messaging to users and help them find the information they need as easily as possible. Leverage measurable results to pinpoint exactly what content works and what doesn’t to raise conversions, engagement, and improve the overall user experience.


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