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  • Writer's pictureCatherine O'Regan

Where has all the content gone? Asking for a friend…

Updated: Oct 22, 2019

Why your content should be the first thing your users find on your website.

Every so often, there’s a new trend in web design that becomes all pervasive. A bit like the shabby chic of home decor that has become so ubiquitous, you can now buy mass produced shabbiness on every high street. Being authentic has never been so easy or cheap.

However, there seems to be a current state of design at the moment that makes actual content the hardest thing to find on a website or app.

Have a cookie

Before you can even enter the virtual door, the dreaded and now pointless cookie question comes up. Like some dystopian snacking nightmare, we will forever ask you to accept our cookies, every time you visit our site. Will the youth of today even remember a time B.C. (before cookies)?

A picture of the cookie monster
Is anyone else thinking about cookies?

Crimes against content

This is often followed by a chirpy ‘would you like to take a survey?’ pop up window. Now, I’m all for giving my fellow designers and content managers a hand. But when you’re accosting your users like a virtual chugger at the supermarket entrance, you’re losing them before they’re even inside your emporium of information. How can I take a survey about your website, when I can’t even see what’s on it yet?

Ok, so no survey, how about a newsletter instead? Go on, give us your email, please! We promise we won’t do anything naughty with your data. Just your email… well, maybe your date of birth too, and your gender and your age. No peeking at our content until you’ve told us if you prefer Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Suddenly, this is all a very one sided conversation.

Lastly, and in my opinion the worst crime of all, is the pop out video. News reporting sites, you know who you are. Like a compulsive hugger, the pop out video is ready to assault your senses with a wallop of the feels. Is it related to the content you’re looking at? Probably not. Why has it been unleashed in your browser? Who knows? And like a persistent stalker, it will follow you all the way down to the end of the page until you kill it.

If you’re lucky enough to get beyond all these hurdles, you’ll very likely encounter the banner ads top and bottom of the page, the sidebar of shame or the motion sickness inducing background advert.

Feeling used yet?

At this point, your users may have had to click away two, three or more irritations before they actually encounter the content they came looking for. And God help anyone with any kind of impairment or barrier trying to navigate these potholes.

Not all your users can absorb and render media in the same way. For some people, including myself, visual distractions are precisely that... a distraction. Or at worst, a barrier to getting to your content at all.

Your core content should be the first and only thing your users find on a page. We all know websites have to make a buck these days. But if you rely on advertising, then one well placed and prominent ad can be far more effective than repeatedly bashing your users over the head until they submit to click-bait.

Put your content first and center of your site. Make it clear and clutter free. Remember that not everyone ‘sees’ and ‘reads’ content. Do it… or unleash the cookie monster of content at your peril...

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