“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design. Its decoration.”
–Jeffrey Zeldman, Happy Cog Studios Founder and Executive Creative Director
So, content matters, but that’s a big and bold statement. How do we make content manageable, accessible and actionable without feeling overwhelmed? Let’s explore what good content looks like and how we guide the creation process.
Content Matters Most To Your User
Simply stated, the purpose of a website (and other platforms) is to communicate and connect. When a user visits your page (website, Facebook, application, LinkedIn, etc.), he/she is seeking information.
If the content is poorly written and organized, the user will leave empty-handed with a negative and unclear impression of the brand, regardless of the visual appeal of the design.
A brand frequently creates different types of content—website, social, blog, internal communication, marketing material, new business pitches and more. In almost all cases, this content is created, posted and managed by many people with different writing styles, positions and skills sets.
With so many cooks in the kitchen, it’s important to establish guidelines that ensure each piece of content works together in a cohesive and consistent manner and not against itself.
Guides for Uniform Copy
There are two essential components to creating cohesive copy—Voice Guide and Style Guide.
1. Voice Guide
Before you write any content (arguably the most important aspect of your brand), you must establish a brand voice. In the same way a designer creates a style guide for the visual voice of the brand, one should be created for content, too. To help define and streamline this voice, we recommend a Voice Guide.
By providing tips and examples, this guide helps define the voice of the company and drive uniformity. While this voice does not change, the tone of the copy adjusts to the reader and platform. This is a valuable tool to help all company employees navigate conversations surrounding the company—both written and conversational.
2. Style Guide
The second component to creating consistent copy is a Style Guide. This guide is for all employees within the company who write and publish content. It provides specific directions to navigate the style and formatting.
For example, does the company use ampersands? What search keywords should be included? How are sentences structured or punctuation used? Do you use wordplay or jargon?
By using these signs uniformly, you create copy that speaks to the brand voice and also gives the illusion that there is one persona behind all written content. This is essential.
Let’s Get Started
Keep in mind that creating consistent copy does not require you to rewrite an entire website and all marketing materials that already exist. Armed with a voice guide and a style guide, you can revisit and edit the existing content for consistency and brand voice. In addition, these tools continue to influence all new copy.
Spyder Trap can work with your already existing brand guidelines, core values, and company personalities to help you wrangle in your content.
Regardless of who writes the content—client, freelance copywriter or Spyder Trap—it is essential that there are guidelines to drive consistency and cohesion across all copy and as a result, better leverage the brand guidelines, company voice and personality that already exists.